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Shopping in Covent Garden
Covent Garden (London)
Member Name: spacelamb
Covent Garden (London)
Date: 29/01/01, updated on 29/01/01 (121 review reads)
Advantages: caters to many tastes
Disadvantages: careful of tourist trap
If you are visiting London, one of the best places to go for shopping is Covent Garden. It can be a bit of a tourist area, which seems like a bad thing (and sometimes is - it is easy to be ripped off by market traders whose chief customers are tourists), but it is also a good thing because there is always high-quality street entertainment and busking which gives the place atmosphere.
There are two markets - Covent Garden and the Jubilee.
Covent Garden market is partially undercover and has a range of small and exclusive shops, as well as craft stalls every day. Given its proximity to the Royal Opera House there are often opera singers busking outside the downstairs cafes and they are always of an exceptional standard. It has retained its old-fashioned charm and is lovely to wander around, but the boutiques are expensive and Londoners wouldn't generally shop there.
The Jubilee market is targeted even more towards tourists and specialises in 'amusing' jester hats bearing the Union Jack logo. Unless you are specifically looking for tacky presents to take home I'd give it a miss. There are much better-quality gifts to be found across the road in the London Transport Museum Shop (you don't have to go in the museum to get to the shop) - they sell well made clothes, stationery etc with tube map prints, and offer very good value for money. They also sell old transport posters and postcards which are often very amusing in a kind of fifties advertising way.
Neal Street is the best actual shopping street. It has high street names like Diesel, Office, Miss Sixty and Storm but also the fantastic Neal Street East. This is a three-floor Oriental department store that specialises in homewares, but also has a book section, clothes (mostly kimonos, wraps, slippers and so on) and a gift basement selling toys and knick-knacks quite cheaply. And it smells lovely.
Further down Neal Street is a mini shopping centre housing
only surf and skate wear shops. These tend to be a bit pricey but have high quality garments that you can't find anywhere else.
Floral Street has larger designer shops such as Paul Smith and Uth, also Home which stocks the Paul Frank brand (the one with the monkey face!).
Earlham Street is a particular favourite of mine, housing Cyberdog (clubwear), Kitschen Sync (garish homewares!) and a brilliant accessories street stall which is very quick to pick up on trends, and also has a lot of cute Japanese stuff imported.
Finally for vintage clothes you can't beat Monmouth Street, home to the famous Pop Boutique amongst others. Pop really is the cream of the crop though and has celebrity regulars, but is still quite affordable. Tee-shirts are under £10, funky trousers between £15-40 depending on condition. They also have an excellent range of belts perfect for this season's 80s thing.
Long Acre, which runs between Covent Garden and Leicester Square (more tourist nonsense, but good fun all the same), has all the high street names without being as busy as Oxford Street - Marks and Spencer, Gap, Body Shop, Muji, Morgan - explore for yourself. There really is something for everyone.
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