Ex­plore the shop­ping gems on Lon­don’s Re­gent Street

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Bazaar - By Cai Mei Khoo.

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


Brasserie Zédel

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