I tend to avoid Piccadilly Circus, Shaftesbury Avenue and Leicester Square because this West End district is a little bit tacky and jammed with cars and people. If you can get to Covent Garden without passing through these areas, the better off you’ll be. Covent Garden is fun, albeit touristy too. Once you’re done there, I suggest a more interesting area which is only a few blocks north-west and includes Monmouth, Earlham and Shelton Streets.
Here’s a favourite clothing store of mine – the cult Swedish designer, Gudrun Sjödén, located at 65-67 Monmouth Street. Her eco-conscious, fanciful designs have been called Pippi Longstocking meets Issey Miyake. She also has a boutique in Soho, NYC at 50 Greene Street.Further along at 31 Monmouth is the fabulous Orla Kiely shop, the Irish fashion and textile designer based in London. Pop in to see her handbags, kitchenware and other wares. She also has a shop in NYC at 5 Mercer Street.
Here’s Neal’s Yard, a fun hodge-podge of shops and eating places accessed via a lane from Monmouth Street. You must visit Neal’s Yard Remedies, Britain’s favourite natural health and beauty products store. Their products come in iconic blue glass bottles which, once finished, can be returned to the store for recycling. They do a fantastic moisturizing cream enhanced with frankincense and myrrh, as well as wild rose beauty balm, gorgeous bath oils, foot and hand care, massage oils, etc.
Three English blokes passing by the Monmouth Coffee Company. Great filtered coffee.ALL SAINTS is geared for the younger crowd, but I like their clothes. FOPP has a massive stock of DVDs, all genres, at cheap prices. I buy a lot of DVDs there that I wouldn’t find anywhere else. Both of these stores are on Earlham Street.Love these old brick walls. You don’t see brick in Paris.
Here’s me (above) loaded down as usual with backpack, camera, handbag and a shopping bag or two. And last but not least – FOYLES famous independent bookstore. Visit their beautiful new flagship store at 107 Charing Cross Road, it’s huge and beautiful. A great place to wander and have a coffee or tea on the top floor. London is a booklover’s paradise.
Coming up: Bloomsbury.