Carnaby Street is a shopping street situated in the heart of London's West End. It runs from Great Marlborough Street at it's north end to Beak street at it's south. It is famed for it's shopping and most notably for it's scene in the 60's where hippies and mods would congregate making it an interesting hotspot and place where you could star spot everyone from The Beatles to The Who.
Alas, it's glory years are now behind it. Carnaby Street today is a mish mash of tourist opportunism, high street chain retailers, the odd more upmarket main stream fashion outlet such as Diesel and the very rare independent boutique. Not all is lost though because if you step away from the main boulevard numerous treats await.
but first, Carnaby Street itself.
Tourism is big here as one would expect given the history and you can't help feel that they play up to it with an array of 'mod' shops selling vesper t-shirts, etc... I find that genuine quality is hard to find and when not encountering a faux mod shop you are greeted with Pret A Manger, The Orange shop or Muji.
The over-riding feeling I have for Carnaby Street is not that it is bad as such but that it is not distinguishable from any other similar pedestrianised street.
To my reckoning, it has one pub and that is dark and dingy.
If you are in the area I would recommend getting away from Carnaby Street itself and exploring some of the more interesting side streets surrounding it. This is when the area comes into it's own and you find the independent boutiques you were longing for. here you can find designer clothing and interesting restaurants, bars, etc... all within a very short walk.
Of particular note I will mention my favorite shop, Beyond The Valley on Newburgh Street. Here you will find a wealth of boutique wonders and oddities. They have amassed works from many unheralded cutting edge designers and although only a very small shop, have filled it with trinkets, furnishings, clothes, accessories, gimmicks, jewellery... you name it, it will be there. Staff are very friendly and helpful and it's the perfect place to go if you are looking for that something unique or a funny gift. It's dynamite for Christmas as it stocks such an array of items.
Just over the road is what I believe to be the best restaurant in the area too. It's a french Restaurant called La Trouvaille also on Newburgh St. Again small and very cosy, the cooking is classic French and not overpriced... which is rare for the area. Service is remarkably friendly too.
So, my advice, get off Carnaby Street as soon as you can and sample some of the delights neighboring streets have.
Carnaby Street is one of London's top shopping districts. Made popular in the 60's and 70's Carnaby Street certainly maintains that era's flair and has also kept up with the trends. The nearest station is Oxford Circus and it runs parallel to the fancy Regent Street. Always busy, Carnaby Street offers a range of stores to shop in, from charity shops to your regular priced high street shops like Office and Muji, to the more expensive and pricier shops such as Diesel and Miss Sixty.
Walking through Carnaby Street, it's a long paved pedestrianised road with a huge sign spanning across the front welcoming you. During the christmas season you can see it decorated so beautifully that even that is worth the trip alone. Last year they had huge paper chains draped across the whole area and this year (2008) they have huge balloony snowmen up above and greeting you at every turn. Sort of reminds me of marshmallow man in Ghostbusters, but in a good way! It's very magical walking through there during the christmas period. The street also offer many treats and events. My favourite is one organized in conjunction with Grazia magazine that seems to be an annual event now. By signing up to their website you get newsletters of upcoming events and some of them are not so well advertised on the actual street. The night I went was sort of a prep night for xmas where they offered 10%-20% discounts at pretty much all the stores. Each store was packed and staff did a great job controlling it and ensuring everyone that entered got a free drink, it be beer, wine or champagne in some. A great way to get more familiar in shop you hardly buy things from.
There are many great eateries located in and around Carnaby Street and after a bit of shopping all you have to do is turn a corner and you can find either a small cafe, restaurant or a pub where you can rest your feet. My favourite places to eat are Mother Mash and Mangosteen, both located on Ganton Street which comes off the middle of Carnaby Street. Another great place is Don Zoko, a japanese restaurant that almost makes you feel you are in Japan!
Kingly Street and Kingly Court are located right next to Carnaby Street and they both share a range of shops, mostly expensive and restaurants.
If vintage clothing is more your style then Foubert's Place and Newburgh Street, also next to Carnaby Street, are great places to shop. Many celebrities still make the trip to these places and they are all very trendy.
Carnaby Street offers shops for everyone. From men and womens clothing (Miss Sixty, Energize), jewelry and accessories (Ollie and Nic), make up (MAC, Benefit) to toys (Octopus, Playlounge on Beak Street), shoes (Office and Gola) and sportswear (Puma and Adidas).
This is definitely one of my favourite shopping areas. It may be a little pricey for some but then you always have Oxford Street less than 5 mins away.
You can find more info on events and shops on their official website:
Introduction ~~ Carnaby Street, well it was once the place to go in the 60’s and 70’s but now it’s a bit less well-known. Now its been modernised as times passed but it still keeps a bit of its remarkable 60’s charm which makes it what it is. Carnaby Street is also less crowded than other parts of London such as Oxford Street and Regent Street. Location ~~ Carnaby Street could not be in a better location. It is just 3 or 4 minutes from Oxford Circus. tube station and is also within easy reach of Marlborough St and is no more than a 15 minutes walk from anywhere in Soho. Shops ~~ The shops in Carnaby St. vary quite a lot from trendy fashion shops to the old cheap and tacky tourist shops. My favourite particular shop on Carnaby St. is the Mambo shop. If you haven’t heard of Mambo they are a Australian surf/skate brand. Well I did mention cheap and tacky tourist shops. Well there is one “cheap and tacky” tourist shop that is actually rather good. Half of the shop is crap, postcards, shortbread tins with Prince Charles on the front and famous London Underground signs. The other half is stuff like the mirrors used in bars. Jack Daniels and Budweiser mirrors, which would look pretty cool on your bedroom wall. And for landlord wanabees who dream of their own minibar in their bedroom this shop also sells bar optics and pumps. Despite all of that though I settled with a Coca-Cola fridge magnet for £2. They also sell film masks, the most famous one I could recall was the famous Scream mask. Anyway even if your not bothered about any of this stuff which is frankly of little use but just cool to have do have a look in this brilliant shop. Unfortunately I cannot give you a name of this shop as last time I went in it simply had a plain white sign! But I can give you directions to it if your that interested! Well its past Prêt a Manger and Mambo which are near the top of Carnaby St. and is near the b
ottom. Though don’t worry you haven’t got a long walk as Carnaby St. is not that long! Eating ~~ Last time I was on Carnaby St. the only place to eat on Carnaby St. was Prêt a Manger. Though don’t worry about the lack of choice as you are still very near Oxford St. and Soho. The Prêt a Manger down Carnaby St. is good as it less busy than the one on Oxford St. other than between 12 and 1 when it is crammed with office workers coming from the fancy plush offices in Soho. All other times you can practically always get a seat. (For more about Prêt a Manger please see my opinion on the café) Getting there ~~ The only way to go to Carnaby St. realistically is by tube. That is the only way I recommend, parking in London is very expensive and is slow due to the amount of traffic. As I said before the nearest tube station from Carnaby St. is Oxford Circus and its only a 3 or 4 minute walk. Overall ~~ I really like Carnaby St. as it is a place you can go from Oxford St. in a few minutes if you just want a break. Its far less crowded than Oxford St. and is smaller, so its easier to find your way around. Carnaby St. is also pedestrianised so it’s a lot quieter as there’s no buses or taxis. Shops in Carnaby St. are different and unique whereas I tend to get bored of Oxford St. where all of the shops are just typical highstreet shops. Big HMV’s, big Gaps, etc. Many shops on Carnaby St. are independent. Though most clothes shops on Carnaby St. are shops owned by the brand and are shops that you won’t see on your typical town highstreet. Overall I say if your near Carnaby St. go there, its different, less crowded and has some unique shops.
Carnaby Street has to be one of the coolest streets in London. As you enter Carnaby Street, you will see a big sign across the street with the name across it. Situated close to Oxford Street and Regent Street, it is set in one of the busiest parts of London. The nearest tube station is Oxford Circus. People of all colours, genders and ages flock here in their thousands to browse around the many shops and stores to spend their cash. The shops are amazing! You will find the wackiest and craziest clothing, shoes, accessories etc all down here. I mean, where else would you find brightly coloured shoes of all shapes and sizes? Purple, green, union jack, platforms, you name it, they've got it! It may seem that it's all women who can shop 'till they drop. But, believe me, I'm just as bad, if not worse, when I go down here! If you're feet start to tire you, you will find bars down here to have a relaxing drink. You could easily spend hours down here just looking through all the shops. It's a very trendy street. There are the latest and craziest fashions to be bought and sought after here. If you are young, have plenty of money and time to spend, you will think you have died and gone to heaven here. I love going down Carnaby Street. It's cool, hip, and very up-to-date.
A visit to London is not complete without a trip to Carnaby Street in the heart of colourful Soho. This street has a vivid, hip past and present. The trend is ripe. Carnaby street the gateway to Soho is a located behind regent Street. To miss it is a crime. The street is associated with clothing boutiques, coffee houses and pubs. Shops specialise in Mod, hippy and alternative clothing and merchandise. Brands such as Lonsdale and Ben Sherman dominate almost all the shops. A naval stud or eyebrow ring can be found almost anywhere. A banner bearing Jim Morrison or Jimi Hendrix are two a penny. A pair of flares; cords, denim, or ripped is light work to find. Flower power necklaces and goth doggy collars are staring you in the face. All in all aimed towards the alternative, retro being. The street became World Famous in the mid 1960s. An array of shops selling the best in clothing from mini skirts to Kaftans were well established. To shop in Carnaby Street was to be ultra hip and trendy, on both sides of the atlantic. To be seen in the street was enough. It was here the phrase: 'Swingin' London' was emerged, coined by Time magazine. At the time the Street particularly had a strong affiliation with the Mod scene, the likes of Twiggy, The Who and The Small Faces were seen shopping 'til they dropped. The Mod association has continued to this day. The shops 'Merc' and 'The Face' cater for everything today's Mod needs. From three piece suits, shirts, parkas to a glowing range of vinyl, postcards, books and badges. A girl's range of clothing is also available. I picked up a couple of slim fitting Ben Shermans from 'The Face', who offer 10% discount on production of NUS card. A shop bearing the name 'Gear' specialises in jewelry, the kind you cannot pick up in conventional stores. Upon walking in, you will find a glass cabinet, this is your stop. I
nside is a fantastic range of eyebrow, navel, tongue, lip rings and studs and 'add ons'. The prices start from £4.99. The assistants, are outta this World. You will know to ask them if you need help regarding the rings/studs. I have bought a couple of body rings(purple), an eyebrow ring(blue), and endless supplies of earrings, nose studs and toerings. Both the quality and prices are great. The best of its kind in London I'd say. Coffee houses including Starbucks and Pret a manger, are located off Carnaby Street in Malborough Street. However you will not notice this cut off, the street merely joins on. The atmosphere at lunchtimes and Thursday evenings is breath taking. Those who cannot find seats will perch on walls, bikes and indeed the ground. This is the place to watch people go by. My, allsorts do just that. There is a relaxed, almost bohemian kinda air at these times. Most youngsters are hangin low are here to see and be seen. Last but not least 'Piadina' the recent addition to coffee houses is worth a visit. They served a great coffees and tortilla like wraps crammed with your favourite filling around the clock. A couple of pubs, serving food with outdoor seating are nearby these coffee houses. Pub prices too, you will be pleased to know. Again if seating cannot be found, customers will settle anywhere... Boots and BodyShop are neatly located in the vicinity. What's new, thse two shops prop up everywhere (!) Miss Sixty, Muji, First Sport and G-factory shops are handy for those trendies amongst you. Having said that I've seen many an alternative wrist don the baby G watches ;-). I could write an episode on Carnaby Street, perhaps I will. Watch out for the 'history of', coming shortly.