Explore the shopping gems on London’s Regent Street
It’s just past ten on a bright, slightly chilly morning in London and I’m making my way from The Cavendish London, where I’m staying, to Tonic Coffee Bar on Sherwood Street. Having just stepped off the 13-hour flight, I desperately need a shot of caffeine to keep me going. I order a flat white and owner Tim lets me try some cold brew coffee. It wasn’t quite what I’d expected (cold brew is not just cold coffee) – it had a bright, slight vegetal taste, which was comforting – it’s almost like sipping on herbal tea. Situated just around the corner from Regent Street, it was the perfect starting point for my tour.
Located in the heart of London’s West End, Regent Street is one of the most popular shopping streets in the world, home to many flagship stores the likes of Burberry, whose store at 27,000 square feet makes it the largest Burberry store in the world. The store is set in a 19th-Century Grade II listed building that was built in 1820 for the Prince Regent, after whom Regent Street was named. Showcasing enhanced audiovisual displays, which includes the tallest indoor retail screen in the world, the store also makes use of state-of-the-art technology, such as radio-frequency identification technology that detects content specific to a product, which enhances the customer’s experience.
Next door is Penhaligon’s, a gem of a scent box. Typically English, Penhaligon’s offers the finest perfumes made from rare ingredients – take your pick from seductive oriental scents or intense florals created by master perfumers. If it’s quality shoes you’re after, Church’s Shoes is just a few doors down. William Church was the man who first introduced shoes that differentiated between the left and right feet, something unheard of in the early 1880s. Once you’ve decided between brogues or velvet slippers, cross the road to the revamped Jaeger flagship store. A classic British brand, Jaeger underwent a rebranding and now carries a new straw logo in camel and black, a modern take on the original design. The latest capsule collection, Jaeger by Jaeger, has also just been released with pieces inspired by the brand’s archive.
Few shops away is Reiss, whose designs have been worn by the Duchess of Cambridge – famously, the white Nanette dress for the official royal engagement shoot. Offering smart separates and chic accessories, Reiss introduced a personal tailoring service in 2010, offering made-to-measure suits to rival those of Savile Row, but at a fraction of the price.
Another high street favourite but with a completely different attitude is All Saints. Kitted out in rich oak flooring and raw brick walls, a key feature of the store is the Singer sewing machine display, which highlights the brand’s dedication to craftsmanship. The brand’s spirit of freedom and individuality is epitomised in the leather biker jacket, one of the most popular items in store.
After working up an appetite from all that shopping, break for lunch at the Hawksmoor on Air Street, housed in a
charming Art Deco room. Proud of its British beef that’s cooked over real charcoal to your liking (the medium-rare fillet comes highly recommended), Hawksmoor also offers a range of seafood that’s bought fresh at Brixham market every morning. Another option is MASH (Modern American Steak House) where Danish steaks are dry-aged for up to 70 days in a traditional process. Led by two-Michelin-starred head chef Francis Cardenau, the menu also includes corn-fed beef from America and Kobe-style beef from Australia. Pair with MASH’s own 2011 house Syrah, No Bull, and you have a deeply satisfying meal.
Once you’ve had your fill, head out towards the iconic Tudor-style building that is Liberty. The department store carries covetable brands from Haider Ackermann to The Row, and has a Beauty Hall with a dedicated area to ‘Beauty Must Haves’ – cult beauty items sourced from all over the world. Here, I found my current favourite Lemon Lip Cream from New York apothecary C.O. Bigelow.
Cross the road to The Organic Pharmacy for a quick manicure, which uses nail polishes from its own brand, Organic Glam, that’s non-toxic and fast-drying. On your way out, pick up a custom blend of herbs or supplements, whether it’s a natural detox or probiotics you’re after. Nearby is Aqua Spirit, a dim, seductive space but if it’s a lovely day outside, head to the rooftop bar with views of the London Eye and BT Tower in the distance. Take in your surroundings while you sip on a glass of signature Japanese Velvet. On weekends, the Japanese restaurant, Aqua Kyoto, offers the Infinity Brunch – contemporary Japanese cuisine served with limitless Veuve Clicquot champagne – at £55 per person.
If there’s time for some pampering, head to So Spa by Sofitel for a facial. Housed in an original Grade II listed building, the spa has retained its original marble walls and its Corinthian- style marble columns. Choose from signature treatments like the So Rejuvenating facial, where the therapist mixes a blend of luxurious products to suit your skin type. The spa uses two prestigious French brands – Carita and Cinq Mondes – so you know you’ll be leaving the place with rejuvenated, radiant skin.
If it’s a massage you prefer, try the Oskia Harmonising body treatment at Europe’s first Chuan Spa at The Langham London. Incorporating principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the massage aims to restore balance to the body, mind, and spirit. You lie on a warm waterbed, which aids relaxation, while the therapist uses acupressure massage techniques to release stress knots and improve circulation.
Post-massage, head back to The Cavendish to freshen up before dinner. Rooms are indulgently spacious by London standards – at 27-30 square metres for an executive room – and even have separate bath and shower facilities. Elegantly appointed, the hotel boasts a great location with key attractions including Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, and Trafalgar Square all within walking distance.
With countless options on Regent Street, you’ll be spoilt for choice but two fantastic dinner options would be Piccolino for traditional Italian cuisine or Brasserie Zédel, which serves classic brasserie fare in a stunning Art Deco space. Originally the Regent Palace Hotel that was built between 1910 and 1913, Brasserie Zédel serves up hearty French food at very reasonable prices. Try the roast duck with cherries and mousseline potatoes, or the freshly grilled sea bream with fennel, orange, and thyme. Remember to leave space for some ice cream and tarte tatin.
If Piccolino was your pick, expect only the freshest produce sourced from Italy. Located on Heddon street, just off bustling Regent Street, Piccolino’s award-winning interiors further enhance the dining experience. Order the crab ravioli, large pasta pillows filled with hand-picked crab and shellfish butter or classic Milanese veal cutlet. Alternatively, you could ask for the specials – the lobster linguine we had was truly something else.
With a fantastic mix of restaurants, bars, shops, and hotels on top of its central location, Regent Street is a destination in itself with so much to offer to keep you coming back for more.
Regent Street, London
The Burberry flagship store
Hawksmoor Air Street
A treatment room at So Spa by Sofitel