Which are the UK’s best cities for festive shopping?
Finesse your Christmas stockings with our guide to the finest boutiques and gift shops in London and Edinburgh
Flip the festive romcom script to turn winter shopping from a chore into an indulgent mini-break in these UK capital city shopping hubs. With Rocco Forte Hotels’ Brown’s Hotel, London, and The Balmoral, Edinburgh, as your blissful bases, explore these twin cities’ beguiling boutiques, luxury brand flagship stores and intriguing specialist shops. Run by artisans, designers and curators, who have spent decades honing their craft or travelling the world in search of one-off pieces, these are the ideal hunting grounds for objects of use, beauty, exquisite craftsmanship, or simply made with love. What’s more, by joining Rocco Forte Friends, you will enjoy extra privileges, such as late check-out and early check-in, welcome gifts, 15 per cent off drinking and dining experiences and exclusive invites to local events.
In London, tear yourself away from breakfast in The Drawing Room of Brown’s Hotel to visit what is, hands down, one of the best shops in the city. Covent Garden’s Choosing Keeping is an independent stationery store, selling unusual and beautiful Italian papers, hand-turned pens, Japanese inks, notebooks and accessories. It’s hard to do this boutique justice, but head here first and you may find it a one-stop-shop for all your needs... Of course, special mention also goes to Pimlico’s Rose Uniacke for its crystal tumblers, Anya Hindmarch’s Chelsea Bespoke Shop for monogrammed accessories, and Bloomsbury’s Pentreath and Hall for truly original goods and furnishings.
France may lay claim to inventing the Christmas hamper, but these days everyone knows London does it best. Piccadilly’s Fortnum & Mason is the home of the heavenly hamper, complete with that good taste signifier of a picnic basket to keep in view around the house. For something a little more original, head to Soho or Marylebone’s Lina Stores for an altogether Italian take, or yet further afield to St John’s Wood destination deli Panzer’s for more options, including its incredible Going Overboard hamper.
As you wind your way back to your Mayfair digs on Albemarle Street, perhaps dreaming of some downtime in the glamorous Sir Paul Smith Suite, be sure to stop by London’s oldest bookshop Hatchards on Piccadilly for a signed first edition of Zadie’s latest, before popping into the beautiful Postcard Teas for some small batch oolong and suchlike. Then, after a long day of browsing, back at Brown’s Hotel, settle down for a delicious romantic dinner at Charlie’s, where chef Adam Byatt serves up seasonal British dishes with added Mediterranean flair. Or you might even suspend time and steal yourself away to your beautiful room for a bath and order room service.
After a delightful stay in London, fly to Edinburgh with British Airways from a choice of three London airports. Upon arrival, a short tram or taxi ride will bring you to The Balmoral, located in the heart of the city at 1 Princes Street, where Edinburgh’s Old Town meets the New. Make straight for the Palm Court for a spot of afternoon tea and to form a plan of action (and inaction). Indeed, having whisked yourself away to Scotland and found yourself amid the splendour of The Balmoral, you can wrap up and hit the shops armed with the comforting knowledge that there’s a spa with a Turkish steam room, Finnish sauna and indoor pool awaiting you on your return to the hotel, as well as a destination bar (opening image) with more than 500 single malts and blends to choose from…
Outside, you will find yourself in a city that tops the leader board when it comes to globally recognised lifestyle brands. George Street’s Hamilton & Inches boasts the world’s finest collection of 22ct Scottish gold jewellery, while Old Town stoneware and textile purveyor Anta offers tasteful and exquisite pieces, all made in Scotland. Leith’s Bard is off the beaten track, but a must-visit for those seeking Scottish craft wares, whilst Lifestory draws inspiration from Scandinavia for its line of home accessories.
With enough homeware to fill your suitcase and then some, why not head to Stockbridge natural skincare brand The Method for locally produced creams and concoctions. And, if gifting for the eco-conscious, make for nearby Treen and its quietly luxurious range of vegan garments and accessories.
Finally, nothing beats an edible gift, and Morningside chocolatier Edwyn and Irwyn’s signature chocolate frogs and dragon tails make for luxe stocking fillers for all, along with the biscuits from Mary Contini’s legendary deli Valvona & Crolla. High time to slink back to The Balmoral’s Scotch bar for a Macallan, we think? Slainté!
Win a two-night stay for two in London and Edinburgh
UK residents who join British Airways Executive Club, the airline’s frequent flyer programme, as well as Rocco Forte Friends are in with the chance to treat a friend or loved one to a complimentary two-night stay of deep relaxation and refined pampering in London and Edinburgh with Rocco Forte Hotels.
For more information and to enter the prize draw from 16 November, click here.
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