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London was an important trading port and commercial centre in Roman times. In the Middle Ages her shops and markets were famous, and some street names today date back to medieval days - for example Poultry, Cheapside, Friday Street, Pudding Lane. Of the traditional markets and shopping streets that now operate in the square mile of 'The City', many have existed in the same place for hundreds of years and continue to sell the same types of goods now as they did long ago.
Today London has some of the best shopping in Europe. Whatever you are looking for you should be able to find it here. Some of London's shops are worth visiting just for the experience, even if you don't buy anything (Harrods' Food Hall, Fortnum & Mason and Liberty, in particular).
Famous shopping streets and areas in central London
- Knightsbridge and Bond Street: here you can find luxury goods.
- Regent Street: an elegant Regency street with many interesting window displays and famous shops.
- Savile Row: famous for its exclusive tailors.
- Jermyn Street: shops specialising in exclusive men's wear, including made-to-measure shirts.
- Burlington Arcade: 'The world's most exclusive shopping arcade (built in 1819) patrolled by the world's smallest police force'. Luxury goods are sold in small, elegant shops.
- Oxford Street: has many lively boutiques and a number of well-known mass-market department stores.
- Kensington High Street; King's Road, Chelsea; Carnaby Street: popular with young people for their trendy shops and fun fashions.
- Charing Cross Road: famous for its bookshops, from Foyles 'the biggest bookshop in the world' to specialist shops like E. Joseph for fine rare books and David Drummond (in Cecil Court) for theatrical books and poster.
Famous individual shops
- Harrods: a world-famous department store (Knightsbridge)
- Fortnum & Mason: a small, exclusive department store with a wonderful food department (Piccadilly). The Queen gets her shopping here!
- Paxton & Whitfield: famous for cheeses (Jermyn Street)
- Hamleys: specialises in children's toys and games (Regent Street)
- Liberty: for rare and beautiful materials (Regent Street)
Westfield London Shopping Centre
In 2008 Westfield London Shopping Centre opened just five minutes walk from our Holland Park school. It is one of the largest in-town shopping centres in Europe with over 265 shops from 15 different countries. They range from top-end designer boutiques like Louis Vuitton to large department stores. 80% of the shops are fashion focused but Westfield also has nearly 50 different places to eat and in 2010 a 14-screen state of the art cinema, gym and spa will open. Westfield is open until 10pm every weekday evening, as well as at the weekend.