Shop till you drop

by Lorraine Buxton
   
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It’s an enviable problem; you have plastic to flex in your pocket and need to find somewhere exciting to spend it. It’s all very well going on holiday with the intention of shopping till you drop, but if the boutiques and shops leave little to be desired then you potentially could return home empty-handed, which is a truly shocking thought!

Shopaholics can breathe a sigh of relief. We have compiled a list of what we believe to be the best cities for shopping in the world. Designer boutiques, world-famous department stores and antique markets, you name it – these cities have it…

Paris

Paris plays a central role in the fashion world and is home to a number of large fashion houses including Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel and Louis Vuitton. Parisians are renowned for their simple yet elegant style, and given the excellent pick of stylish boutiques and designer shopping areas, it is easy to see why.

The city is made up of 20 different neighbourhoods (arrondissements) each with its own distinct character and attractions.

Head to Avenue des Champs Elysees in the 8th arrondissement, where you will find an array of designer stores, chic cocktail lounges and luxury car showrooms, as well as the largest Louis Vuitton store in the world.

Boulevard Haussmann - another impressive avenue - houses Les Galeries Lafayette, a large department store selling beautiful designer wear. The store holds its own fashion show every Friday, giving you the change to view the latest couture.

Also located on the avenue is Au Printemps, a must for visitors who adore gourmet cuisine and fashion. The store boasts a superb range of men’s and women’s designer labels and a handful of excellent restaurants.

If the main reason for your visit isn’t fashion then you may like to peruse the unique antiques at Le Louvre des Antiquaires, located beside the Louvre on place du Palais Royal. Or browse first-edition French literature at one of the small shops in Sorbonne.

Elegant, chic and stylish, Paris is the city to visit for a classic shopping experience. 

London

This busy metropolis is a shopper’s delight, offering a dazzling array of shops suited to all tastes and budgets.

Visit Bond Street’s boutiques and designer shops for a truly luxurious experience. Here you’ll find Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Hermes and Chanel amongst the throng of shops. This area is also well known for its luxury jewellery shops, including Tiffany & Co and De Beers. Knightsbridge is an exclusive area, and home to the world-famous Harrods, a luxury shopper’s dream. Selfridges and Harvey Nichols are both also well worth a visit with rail upon rail of designer labels.

To avoid the tourists and experience a slice of ‘city’ life, visit The Royal Exchange; a stunning building housing a collection of excellent designer shops and gourmet restaurants.

Fortnum & Mason is a food lover’s dream, with an abundance of luxury food items available such as black or white truffles, caviar, chocolates, wine and champagne.

And finally, those looking for something unique should visit Grays Antique Market next to Bond Street station. This indoor market holds one of the largest collections of antique jewellery in the world.

Madrid

This stylish European city offers a wealth of sophisticated shopping. The Salamanca neighborhood should be your first stop, offering chic boutiques and designer shops.

Calle Serrano is renowned for having some of the most exclusive shops in the city. Peruse the expensive jewellery stores and designer boutiques whilst admiring the stunning architecture along the way. Here you will find Armani, Versace, Hermes and Hugo Boss amongst the many designer offerings.

Dubai

From January 24 to February 24 2009 Dubai will be hosting its annual Dubai Shopping Festival, which promises to focus on shopping and family entertainment. During the festival, many shops will offer discounted rates and visitors will be treated to impressive firework and laser displays. This is a great time to visit Dubai.

If you plan to visit at any other time of year, then you will still not be disappointed. The Deira Gold Souk is the largest gold souk in the world, selling a dazzling array of gold, diamonds, precious stones and other wonderful pieces of jewellery – visit here to have a bespoke ring or necklace designed just for you.

The most impressive shopping venue in Dubai has to be the Dubai Mall, which is going to be one of the largest shopping malls in the world, covering an area of 12.1 million square feet. The mall is due to open in August 2008 and boasts a fashion island with over 70 designer flagship stores selling the latest fashion creations, the world’s largest gold souk with over 220 gold retailers, one of the largest aquariums in the world, a waterfall, Olympic-sized ice-rink  and a large indoor/outdoor street with a retractable roof.

Milan

Home to Versace and Armani, Milan is one of the world’s fashion capitals. Walk among the glamorous Italians and soak up the sophisticated atmosphere.

Head to Milan’s fashion district – Quadrilatero della moda – where you will find Via Montenapoleone, the finest street in the area. Designer stores abound – this street is a label-lover’s heaven. Other noteworthy streets are Via Borgospesso, Via Santo Spirito, Via Manzoni and Via della Spiga, which also boast an impressive array of designer shops.

After a long day buying the latest designs, head to Nobu in Via Manzoni to sample delectable gourmet Japanese cuisine.

If you are spending a few days in Milan and have a little spare time on your hands then it is well worth taking a trip out of town to one of the many designer outlet stores, which include Dolce & Gabbana, Frette, Fratelli Rossetti and Max Mara.

This fast-paced capital has a lot to offer in terms of unique shopping experiences. In this quirky city of strangeness and gadgets it is possible to buy anything.

Tokyo can seem like an endless maze and finding specific streets can be a tad difficult.
The best way to experience this wondrous city is to amble around the streets, absorbing the cultural differences. This way, you are more likely to find unique shops and other hidden gems.

However, if you are determined to source the best of what Japan has to offer, then head to the Ginza district, which is famous for its glittering showrooms displaying the latest high-tech gadgets, elegant department stores, traditional shops and contemporary galleries.

Another great area offering high-end goods is Omotesando. Here you’ll find the large shopping centres and designer boutiques.

New York

Surely the number one shopping destination in the world?

Brimming with excellent shopping experiences, from vast department stores to chichi designer boutiques, New York is the place to visit if you want to flash your cash.

So, let’s start with the department stores – Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Barneys and Saks are names recognised around the world, with tourists piling through their doors.These department stores showcase a stunning array of premium designer goods and are therefore a fashion attraction not to be missed.

Bergdorf Goodman is perhaps a lesser known household name, but impressive nevertheless and also well worth a visit. Here, shoppers can find a sophisticated space, selling designer menswear and womenswear.

Make like Carrie Bradshaw, put on your favourite heels and strut down Madison Avenue. Along with its elegant department stores, the street is home to Tiffany & Co, designer flagship stores, art galleries, spas, salons and restaurants. Treat yourself at one of the spas and feel like a god or goddess for the day.

Planning a shopping trip?

Take a look at our exclusive hotels:

Inspiring New York

Algonquin Hotel

Luxurious Paris

La Villa Maillot

Fashionable London

The Landmark

Outstanding Madrid

Westin Palace Madrid

Chic Dubai

Majestic Hotel Tower Dubai

Contemporary Taiwan

Les Suites Taipei Ching-Cheng

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