Should you be thinking of visiting Central London and wanting to book accommodation near the West End district, then you might try finding a hotel in the elegant environs of Bayswater. Jam-packed full of attractions, amenities & diverse shopping options, it’s superbly situated for some serious retail therapy, in particular …
Portobello Road Market
(65 Portobello Road W11 2QB)
World famous, thanks for its featuring in so many movies, TV shows and books (everything from rom-com Notting Hill to musical Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Paddington Bear to Bargain Hunt), this market that meanders the mile-and-a-bit length of its street might be blessed with the most recognisable moniker of all of the capital’s street-stall cornucopias. The original antiques market only takes happens on Saturdays, admittedly; but fruit, veg and fresh produce stalls vend throughout the week.
Simply one of the world’s greatest retail thoroughfares – certainly in terms of name recognition – Oxford Street could be said to be the UK’s leading high street. You’ll find everything down here; sophisticated department stores like Selfridge’s and John Lewis, brand name outlets including Nike and the Disney Store and a plethora of fashion retailers (Top Shop and Urban Outfitters), eateries, coffee shops and tourist-goody-stocking vendors. Don’t forget too that the stylish (and, yes, expensive) boutiques of Regent Street and Bond Street are off the main strip to the south, as is Liberty’s department store and the Swinging Sixties-iconic Carnaby Street – all of them, handily and wonderfully, a short walk away from any of the hotels near Bayswater.
South Kensington Farmers’ Market
(Bute Street SW7)
With its commitment to featuring and putting on sale produce grown in, raised on or caught by a nursery, farm or fisherman, this market is the genuine article when it comes to quality and social consciousness, all right. Usually featuring no more than 18 stalls and, for that reason, a seasonal operation, it tends to be something of an enterprise for those-in-the-know; the farms involved will email regular customers the day before market-day to raise awareness of what they’ll be retailing. All the same, it’s more than worth popping along to on a Saturday for curiosity’s sake alone, especially if you’re staying in Bayswater accommodation.
Westfield Shopping Centre
(Ariel Way, Shepherd’s Bush W12 7GF)
A true monolith of a mall right in the heart of Central London, Westfield pretty much has everything for everyone – whatever they’re after. With a retail floor area of 150,000 m² (equivalent to 30 football pitches) and 255 retail units, it features all the high street favourites you can name – and more (while its high-end shopping area ‘The Village’ includes the likes of Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Mulberry, De Beers and Tiffany & Co.). Plus, you’ll also find tucked inside a food court and a multiplex cinema, the latter boasting a total seating capacity of 3,000.
Whiteleys Shopping Centre
(Queensway W2 4YN)
Finally, originally home to a luxury department store of the same name (founded by William Whitely in 1911), this retail space – whose building became Grade II-listed in 1970 – today houses high-street heavy-hitters like Marks & Spencer, Toys-R-Us, HMV, Zara and French Connection, as well as a large ground-floor food court and an entertainment complex that includes bowling alleys and, yes, another multiplex cinema. Just like the protagonist of George Bernard Shaw’s satirical novel Pygmalion (in which the original department store featured), the shopping centre’s undergone much self-improvement in recent years, ensuring it’s a retail destination that’s definitely worthy of a visit.