48 hours in… Glasgow

Scotland's largest city, Glasgow is renowned for its vibrant arts, music and culture scene, rich architectural heritage and a wealth of friendly locals .

The city has the greatest concentration of creative industries in Britain outside London. Its architectural assets include the Victorian splendour of Glasgow City Chambers, the neo-classical surroundings of the Gallery of Modern Art, and the ultra-modern spikes of Zaha Hadid's Riverside Transport Museum. And with more than 1,500 shops, this fashionable city is recognised as Britain's second largest retail centre.

UNESCO City of Music, Glasgow stages an average of 130 music events in the city every week. It's also considered a place to discover new talent: bands hailing from, or starting their careers here include famous names like Franz Ferdinand, the Fratellis, Belle & Sebastian, Snow Patrol, Travis, Texas and Paolo Nutini.

TIME TO CHECK IN:

The four-star Grand Central Hotel has been open since 1879; this Queen Anne style landmark has 230 rooms and suites, and former guests include politicians and Hollywood stars.

Situated on the Banks of the River Clyde next to The SSE Hydro, the Radisson Red Hotel opened its doors in 2018 and is home to 174 studio rooms. The OUIBar + KTCHEN and rooftop RED Sky Bar, with its craft beers and classy cocktails, mean your food and drink needs are well covered too.

Scotland’s largest bedroomed hotel with 374 rooms, Motel One Glasgow provides a stylish budget option with an interior that takes inspiration from its location next to Glasgow Central Station. The hotel’s signature One Lounge – a breakfast café, bar and living area rolled into one – is themed around the golden age of train travel in Scotland. 

Alternatively, the new Ibis Styles Glasgow Centre West is another that mixes affordability with style across its 137 rooms. The hotel recognises Glasgow’s influence on the global music scene, so keep an eye out for the names of iconic bands and venues that are splashed across the décor.

DAY ONE:

11.00 Take in the Gallery of Modern Art

Discover an incredible collection of contemporary art right in the centre of Glasgow at the Gallery of Modern Art. Thought-provoking displays and temporary exhibitions pack the gallery, and building tours take place at weekends that can introduce the history of the building and the exhibitions within it. 

12:15 Follow in the footsteps of great pioneers

The historic campus of the University of Glasgow is another edifying tourist attraction. Take a self-guided tour of Britain's fourth oldest university, and follow in the footsteps of renowned visionaries such as the pioneer of television John Logie Baird. Not to be missed are the Cloisters - these impressive archways have featured in several films, including OutlanderOutlaw King and Cloud Atlas.

13:30 Enjoy lunch along a cobbled backstreet

A cobbled backstreet close to the university, Ashton Lane is a treasure trove of bohemian bars and restaurants. With its rustic chic interior and a beer garden for al fresco drinking and dining, Belgian-style bar and restaurant Brel is a popular choice. Or try renowned Glasgow bar and eatery the Ubiquitous Chip.

14:30 Experience Glasgow's bohemian side

The neighbourhood that includes the University of Glasgow and Ashton Lane is known as Glasgow's West End. This bohemian quarter of ornate sandstone tenements and cobbled streets is well worth exploring. A fantastic range of vintage and design stores, cafés, bars and specialist delicatessens can be found here. It's also home to the picturesque Botanic Gardens and Kelvingrove Park, as well as Charles Rennie Mackintosh's distinctive and stylish Mackintosh House.

15:30 Explore Scottish and world history

Also located within Glasgow's West End is Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Built in 1901, this grand red sandstone building displays one of Europe's greatest and most eclectic art collections, and is one of Scotland's most popular free-to-enter visitor attractions. Highlights include Salvador Dali's iconic painting Christ Of St John Of The Cross, plus Scottish history and archaeology, dinosaurs, Ancient Egypt, arms and armour, and Dutch Old Masters. Several stunning exhibitions run throughout the year, while visitors can take the Natural History Trail to explore Scotland’s natural world.

19:30 Dine in a cool up-and-coming quarter

Once an industrial area frequented by dockworkers, Finnieston is now a neighbourhood with a cool new vibe. Anchored by The SSE Hydro arena, initially built for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and now a renowned live entertainment venue, the area has witnessed a change in fortune. Known as the city's foodie quarter, a stretch of Argyle Street is now lined with bars and eclectic restaurants, with top picks including industrial eatery The Gannet, tapas-style Indian food at Mother India's Café, or fish and shellfish at Crabshakk

21:30 Sip a cocktail or a dram of whisky

After-dinner options along Argyle Street range from cocktails at Kelvingrove Café to a dram of Scottish whisky and traditional live music at The Ben Nevis.

DAY TWO:

9:30 Visit a champion transport museum

Voted 2013 European Museum of the Year, the spiky Zaha Hadid-designed Riverside Museum is Scotland's museum of transport. Its collection includes a historic Tall Ship, an icon of Glasgow's shipbuilding heritage now moored at Riverside, while inside the vast free-flowing gallery space are trams, trolley buses, vintage cars, bicycles and motorbikes - each object telling a unique story. Discover the story of Glasgow’s telegram messengers throughout 2019 and keep an eye out for numerous one and two-day specialist exhibitions that are held across the year.

11:00 Take a Scottish brunch break

Enjoy a delicious Scottish brunch at Cup, Glasgow's award-winning tea rooms. The tiled Victorian interior of Cup Tea Lounge is truly stunning. There's also Cup Tea Room in Glasgow's West End, and the Cup Tea Garden in stylish Merchant City. Cup's big breakfast includes Scottish cured bacon, sausages and homemade beans. Other choices include Eggs Benedict, Florentine, Royal or Stornoway - the latter two coming with either Scottish smoked salmon or Stornoway Black Pudding. Cup is also a great choice for afternoon tea.

12:00 Shop till you drop in Britain's second largest retail centre

With more than 1,500 shops, Glasgow is recognised as Britain's second largest retail centre, providing one of the best shopping experiences outside London. Glasgow's Style Mile is the city's central shopping district, with all the big high street brands. Tucked away behind the city centre is the Merchant City, one of Glasgow's oldest quarters and an area of huge architectural interest. Dating back to the 1750s, it was home to the warehouses of wealthy merchants. Those old warehouses have since become quirky designer boutiques, bars, restaurants and stylish loft apartments.

14:30 Head out of the city to a grand old country house

In easy reach of Glasgow city centre, Pollok House is a grand country property built in 1752. Now part of the National Trust for Scotland, its lavish family rooms are packed full of period furniture and fine art, while downstairs are vast servants' quarters. Afterwards, hire a bike to explore the surrounding Pollok Country Park - look out for the Highland Cattle and Clydesdale Horses.

19:30 Taste a crisp apple ale and hearty Scottish fare

Britain's first experiential craft brewery, Drygate produce a range of ales and IPAs, and is home to 26 rotating taps and a carefully curated bottle selection. Their Glasgow brewhouse is also home to Drygate's Craft Beer Bar & Kitchen serving seasonal Scottish produce, burgers and charcuterie-grazing boards.

22:00 Listen out for the next big thing in the City of Music

Glasgow is designated UNESCO City of Music thanks to its thriving music scene and multitude of live music venues. King Tut's Wah Wah Hut is consistently named Britain's best small live music venue, or there's the legendary Barrowland Ballroom in the east end of Glasgow, plus Saint Luke's, an exciting music and arts venue in a restored former parish church.

HOW TO GET HERE:

Glasgow is in Scotland, five hours by train north of London, one hour from Edinburgh. Glasgow International Airport is just shy of 9-miles from Glasgow city centre with a bus connection taking 15 minutes.

Where to find the best post-Christmas sales in Britain

Coincide your visit to Britain during one of the major sales seasons and you could make huge savings on shopping during your trip. Post-Christmas is a brilliant seasonal sale period as shops offer great discounts and incentives, usually from Boxing Day (26 December) onwards. You’ll find them everywhere, from major department stores and high-street shops, independent boutiques and outlet centres.

CITY SHOPPING

London

England’s capital is, without doubt, one of the best places in the world to shop! Legendary shopping haunts such as Oxford Street, Bond Street, Regent Street, Westfield in Stratford, east London and Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush, west London, Covent Garden and Knightsbridge, plus pretty much every other street in the capital, are teeming with shops that offer post-Christmas sales. If you’re searching for great prices at high-end stores, why not start at the ‘grande dame’ of them all, Harrods in Knightsbridge. Its Winter Sale is a real show-stopper of an event, opening with great fanfare on Boxing Day – in previous years, the Boxing Day sale event has featured live reindeers and a performance by Florence + The Machine. Also head to Selfridges on Oxford Street where, across six floors, you’ll discover fantastic sales on designer wear (its sale also kicks off on Boxing Day), while over in Knightsbridge, Harvey Nichols is a must-visit for luxury brands at sale prices. Homewares, fashion and beauty bargains can be found at the elegant designer department store Liberty on Regent Street and, if it’s a good deal on foodie treats you’re looking for, head to Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly, where sales tend to start on 27 December. 

Birmingham, central England

Jump on a train from London and 90 minutes later you’ll find yourself in another shopper’s paradise. The city of Birmingham has a wonderful mix of shopping experiences, from luxury department stores and independent boutiques to historic markets and high-street favourites. Check out the post-Christmas sales at its branches of Harvey Nichols, found at the Mailbox shopping venue, which is also home to brands such as Armani and Calvin Klein. The Birmingham branch of Selfridges is located in one of the city’s most distinctive buildings and is part of The Bullring & Grand Central shopping destination. It boasts upscale brands such as Michael Kors and the British institution that is department store John Lewis, which kicks off its famous sale on 27 December. Close by is Birmingham’s New Street, which has a myriad of narrow streets leading off it where you’ll find sales events at the independent boutiques and high-street favourites that have their home there. And don’t forget to explore the city’s renowned Jewellery Quarter, packed with historic buildings and jewellery boutiques to hunt for that gem of a post-Christmas bargain.

Manchester, north-west England

Whatever style you’re into, you’ll find it in Manchester’s shops – and at great prices too during sales season. Like London and Birmingham, Manchester has branches of luxury department stores Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, each home to a raft of designer concessions. If you’re looking for high-street bargains all under one roof, check out the city’s fantastic shopping centres; the intu Trafford Centre (where Selfridges is located) is home to Zara, Victoria’s Secret, John Lewis and that British favourite, Primark. For shopping in a historic destination, visit The Royal Exchange – once the hub of the world’s cotton trade and a Grade II-listed building – where premium high-street brands (think French Connection and Molton Brown) sit alongside independent boutiques and luxury retailers. The venue is also close to Manchester Arndale, where bargains can be found at leading British high-street fashion stores such as TopShop, River Island and Next. It’s also worth exploring Manchester’s creative, bohemian hub, the Northern Quarter, for vintage boutiques and independent record stores and head to Afflecks, where bargains can be picked up at independent designers trading across four floors – it’s a labyrinth of treasures.

Glasgow, Scotland

Home to one of the UK’s largest retail hubs outside of London, Glasgow is a shopaholic’s dream destination. Its world-famous Style Mile in the city centre means an easy route around all your favourite shops – good news, as hunting for bargains can be tiring work! The ‘Style Mile’ is home to well-loved British high-street stores, as well as luxury retailers, but it’s also the place to go to explore the city’s shopping centres and department stores. More than 80 retailers have made their home at the Buchanan Galleries, including a branch of John Lewis, the classically British Jones the Bootmaker, and beauty shops such as Bare Minerals. The West End of the city is the place to shop if you’re looking for sales bargains in more avant-garde and independent boutiques.

Cardiff, Wales

Cardiff’s main shopping area in the city centre is mainly pedestrianised, meaning the hunt for post-Christmas bargains is all concentrated in an easy-to-navigate district. The Welsh capital is well-known for its Victorian arcades and no less than six have been transformed into shopping venues. The Castle Quarter alone comprises three; Castle Arcade, High Street Arcade and Duke Street Arcade, and it’s here you’ll find a raft of vintage shops, clothes stores and jewellery shops worth exploring during the post-Christmas sales. Contemporary British brands, such as Marks & Spencer and John Lewis, have made their home at the St David’s Centre and there are high-street names galore throughout the city centre.

 

OUTLETS

Grab even bigger bargains at Britain's outlet stores – they offer deals all year round, but you can discover even bigger discounts during the main sale periods as items are marked down further.

Bicester Village, Oxfordshire, central England

Less than one hour from London, Bicester Village is one of Britain’s best-known luxury shopping destinations and bargain hunters can explore more than 160 famous brand-name boutiques, including Oscar de la Renta, Hugo Boss, Tods and Mulberry. Year-round they offer savings of up to 60% and may often discount further during the post-Christmas sales period. New designer boutiques are constantly opening at the Village, with recent additions including Roland Mouret, MonnaLisa, Amanda Wakeley and British brand Shrimps. Bicester Village now also offers an exclusive by-appointment-only space where guests can retreat for private shopping consultations and, to complete the VIP shopping experience, can take advantage of valet parking, hands-free shopping and on-site tax refunds and money services. There’s also a Bicester Village app packed full off shopping tips, important information and exclusive offers, that you can download before you hit the shops.

McArthur Glen

McArthurGlen has designer outlets in six locations across Britain, including York (a two-hour train ride from London) and Cheshire, a 45-minute train journey from Liverpool. Cheshire Oaks is Britain’s largest designer outlet, with more than 145 boutiques, restaurants and cafés, and shoppers can find bargains from popular high-street names such as Marks & Spencer and Next, and high-end brands such as Burberry and Michael Kors. McArthur Glen’s other destinations include Ashford in Kent (40 minutes from London), Bridgend in south Wales (around 30 minutes from Cardiff), East Midlands (around 25 minutes from Nottingham) and Swindon (around 45 minutes from Bath). A new outlet is due to open in 2020 in Cannock in the West Midlands (30 minutes from Birmingham).

London Designer Outlet

Close to the world-famous Wembley Stadium in north London is the London Designer Outlet, where visitors will discover more than 50 outlet stores offering regular and seasonal discounts of up to 70% on top fashion and lifestyle brands – it’s ideal for post-Christmas sales! If you’re into sportswear, this is where you’ll find top sporting brands such as Nike and adidas, while if you’re searching for stylish homewares, check out lifestyle stores that include Villeroy & Boch, Sony and Procook. The outlet also offers services such as multi-lingual staff and overseas shoppers can claim an immediate VAT refund at the outlet’s currency exchange service.

ICON Outlet at the O2

New to the outlet scene – it opened in late October 2018 – the ICON Outlet at the iconic O2 arena in Greenwich, south-east London, has brought together a huge range of fashion and lifestyle brands at accessible prices all under the famous tented roof. It's home to retailers including Kurt Geiger, Aspinal of London, Jack Wills, Cath Kidston, Hackett, Guess, G-STAR Raw and Ted Baker, as well as a host of other shops and restaurants. Customers can take advantage of services such as a concierge luggage drop and hands-free shopping. 

The World of Mr Banks

The world of ‘banks’ is at the very heart of the story of Mary Poppins; aside from the magical nanny herself, the main characters are the Banks family and Mr Banks is preoccupied with his work at a…you’ve guessed it, a bank! Britain itself has a long history of banking, with many branches once residing in the grandest buildings of a city that have now been transformed into elegant hotels and restaurants. As new feature film Mary Poppins Returns hits screens this winter it’s the perfect time to seek out your very own ‘Banks’ experience in Britain.

Stay

The Ned, London

A City of London landmark since 1925, the building now occupied by luxury hotel The Ned was once the headquarters of Britain’s Midland Bank, a striking building designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens – one of Britain’s greatest architects – that was the largest clearing house bank in the world at the time it was built. Now a five-star hotel, part of the Soho House & Co Group and Sydell Group, its banking legacy means guests stay in a super-stylish building dominated with high-vaulted ceilings and grand doors. Its rooms range from the cosy ‘Crash Pad’ to Grand Heritage suites on the Grade I-listed fifth floor, while its pièce de résistance is its spectacular restaurant hall. Eight restaurants, ranging in cuisine from Italian to British, American to French, sit within the former banking hall, each with its own space separated by 92 verdite columns and walnut banking counters.

The Old Bank Hotel, Oxford, central England

Surrounded by the impressive architecture of ancient Oxford University colleges as well as the Bodleian Library, The Old Bank Hotel still manages to stand out in Oxford thanks to its stunning design. It fully became a bank in 1808, and had strong links with the University, counting author of Alice in Wonderland Lewis Carroll as one of its customers. Now a five-star property with 42 bedrooms, many with gorgeous views of Oxford landmarks, The Old Bank Hotel has recently undergone a refurbishment, resulting in the creation of a rooftop bedroom and terrace overlooking Oxford’s ‘dreaming spires’ skyline.

Harbour Hotel & Spa, Bristol, south-west England

Situated in the heart of Bristol, the Harbour Hotel & Spa is housed in not one, but two former Lloyds Bank buildings. Designed by famed Victorian architect William Bruce Gingell, who was inspired by the 16th-century Venetian Library, the hotel has a stunning façade and beautiful interiors. The former banking hall is particularly grand and often hosts events, while what were once the bank vaults are now the hotel’s luxury spa. Indulge in a treatment or two or a dip in the hydrotherapy pool knowing that you’re relaxing in the location where a lot of money was once guarded!

Inn on the Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland

It may not be on the same grandiose scale as some buildings that were formerly bank headquarters, but this gem of a boutique hotel on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile has lovingly conserved many of the building’s original features from when it was the British Linen Bank, built in 1923. The hotel’s nine bedrooms include large sash windows, high ceilings and original cornicing, while its pub also nods to its banking heritage in its décor and style.

Hotel Gotham, Manchester, north-west England

Sir Edwin Lutyens left his mark in Manchester when he designed the building of a former bank that is now home to Hotel Gotham. The architecture is quite breathtaking and the luxury hotel pays homage throughout to the building’s original purpose, maintaining elaborate period touches such as the polished wooden counters so synonymous with banks from the last century. The five-star hotel offers 60 rooms, including five Inner Sanctum Suites – two of which are named ‘Bank Manager’s Suites’ – all of which are decadent in style. Guests (and members) have access to its VIP Club Brass lounge, which is accessed through two vault-like doors.

Eat

Old Bank of England, London

This pub and restaurant’s name sums up its past…it sits in the former Law Courts branch of the Bank of England, on the historic Fleet Street in the City of London. Stunningly renovated, the Old Bank of England has updated the ornate interior of the venue where the Bank of England traded from 1888 until 1975. When you’re enjoying your hearty British meals (think hand-made pies and fish and chips) you’ll be doing so surrounded by history; the basement still contains the original vaults used to store bullion and some of the Crown Jewels during the First World War. The two safes are now the venue’s cellars and kitchens.

The Corinthian Club, Glasgow, Scotland

Five floors of what was once a former bank and high court in the heart of Glasgow now house the restaurant, bar and event spaces of The Corinthian Club. One of the city’s most elaborate buildings, the Club has retained many of the original features of the Glasgow & Ship Bank (which was built in 1842) such as the impressive 26-foot glass dome and delicate, elegant plasterwork. Book into Teller’s Brasserie at the Club for a French-influenced dishes created using Scottish produce.

The Wolseley, London

Situated on Piccadilly, The Wolseley is run in the style of the European Grand Café, serving everything from breakfast to lunch, afternoon teas to dinners – it’s also very much a place to see and be seen. As well as the food, people come for the prestigious surroundings of the building that started life as a car showroom – Wolseley Motors – in 1921 and became a branch of Barclays Bank in 1927. Architect William Curtis Green created an opulent building, with marble pillars and archways, later adding banking counter and managers offices, which now serve as the bar and tea salon. When it became The Wolseley many aspects of the original design, including the domed ceiling and marble flooring, were kept.

The Dome, Edinburgh, Scotland

Dine on traditional Scottish favourites at this Edinburgh restaurant, which was once one of the city’s most striking bank branches and its décor remains as opulent to this day. Located in Edinburgh’s New Town, an elegant Graeco-Roman façade and Corinthian Portico greet its guests. You can dine under the dome itself in the Grill Room, among wood-panelled walls and Art Deco-inspired mirrors in The Club or take afternoon tea under the crystal chandeliers of The Georgian Tea Room.

Potted Pig, Cardiff, south Wales

Modern British cuisine and French/American culinary influences are on the menu at Cardiff’s Potted Pig, situated in a former Lloyd’s Bank vault beneath the city. Regularly changing seasonal menus are served in this underground restaurant that has retained a raft of original features, such as cast-iron cage doors and shallow-arched ceilings. The exposed brickwork, wooden floors and comfy sofas of its Gin Lounge make it the perfect place to experience its huge range of bespoke gins.

Play

Bank of England Museum, London

The Bank of England itself may not be open to visitors but you can explore its fascinating museum in the City of London. Five different galleries will take you through economic history and that of the Bank of England, from the origins of paper money and examples of forged notes to explaining why modern banknotes are difficult to counterfeit.

Royal Mint Experience, Llantrisant, south Wales

The Royal Mint makes and distributes British coins and official medals for around 60 countries every year and its location in south Wales, 30 minutes’ drive from Cardiff, also offers a visitor experience. Take a guided tour of the manufacturing areas to discover how coins are created and the chance to strike your own coin. The experience concludes with an interactive exhibition divided into six zones, which include the history and origins of the Mint and the roles coins play in our lives.

Museum on the Mound, Edinburgh, Scotland

Close to Edinburgh’s Princes Street and Edinburgh Castle, the Museum on the Mound is located in the historic Bank of Scotland Head Office and takes visitors through the story of money. You’ll be able to see Scotland’s oldest banknote, come face-to-face with a million pounds, see how safes are cracked open and learn much more about the design, technology and security of money at this free museum.

London rocks!

Bohemian Rhapsody hits the big screen at the end of this month, telling the tale of rock band Queen’s meteoric rise and revolutionary sound, up until their appearance at Live Aid in 1985, as well the story of the life of their extraordinary frontman Freddie Mercury. Queen formed and lived in London, recorded their music and played legendary gigs in the capital. Let the film inspire you to visit the city to pay homage to your music heroes, whether that’s Queen or Bowie, Pink Floyd or Amy Winehouse, The Beatles or Oasis – London has been a home, and a muse, to them all. Here’s how to follow in their footsteps.

 

Tour

To mark Bohemian Rhapsody’s release, Queen fans can book onto a rock tour to get their fix of Freddie and the band. London Rock Tours runs a half-day tour in the capital that’s fully focused on Queen, taking you to the places where they were formed – such as the pub where Freddie first met Brian May and Roger Taylor – where they recorded and where they lived. You’ll visit the sites and locations that played a significant part in the band’s history, as well as where some of their videos were shot and the site of the last-ever Queen performance.

Alternative walking tours that include Queen sites along with other historic sites of some of Britain’s most famous rock ‘n’ roll bands, include Rock Walk and Classic Rock Legends tour. You can also walk to Freddie Mercury’s final home, Garden Lodge Mansion in the upmarket neighbourhood of Kensington. Although it remains a private home you can read some of the letters that people have written in memory of Freddie and posted on the wall.

London is a must-visit on any music pilgrimage; London Rock tours also offer music adventures such as the Classic Rock & Beatles Tour and Punk and New Wave tour, plus many others; the Rock ‘n’ Roll London Tour takes you around the sites made famous by the likes of The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, The Sex Pistols, Blur and Oasis. Undiscovered London offers the Camden Markets and Music Legends Tour, where you’ll learn about the lives and music of Amy Winehouse, Pink Floyd and other artists who lived and worked in the north London neighbourhood of Camden; David Bowie fans should check out the David Bowie Musical Walking Tour around the artist’s home neighbourhood in south London, Brixton; or go time travelling in the Swinging 60s bus tour, which transports you back to the music-defining decade.

A simple stroll around the streets of London will reveal sites that British rock legends have made famous. Soho’s Berwick Street is the location for Oasis’ seminal album (What’s The Story) Morning Glory cover shot; download the Blue Plaques app to discover where eminent musicians, such as Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon, lived or played. Take a walk down Soho’s Denmark Street – affectionately known as Tin Pan Alley for its large number of musical instrument shops that have served famous customers over the decades. Visit the Handel & Hendrix Museum at 23 Brook Street, where you’ll learn about the lives of two very different musicians who lived at this address centuries apart. And you can’t come to England’s capital without recreating The Beatles’ legendary Abbey Road album cover – head up to the neighbourhood of St John’s Wood and pose on the zebra crossing they made famous (watch out for the traffic!). Which Beatle will you be?

 

Shop

Are you a fan of vinyl records? London is a haven for vinyl addicts. Flip through the albums at Rough Trade West (the original, which opened in 1976) near Portobello Road, or its UK flagship, Rough Trade East at the Old Truman Brewery (also home to live performances). Rekless Recordcs has been selling second-hand records for more than 40 years and has a huge vinyl – and CD – collection. Flashback Records has three stores across London – Shoreditch, Islington and Crouch End – bursting with second-hand vinyl as has Sister Ray Ace in Shoreditch, which also hosts live music performances. And if you’re in London for Record Store Day (13 April 2019) you can catch a huge range of free gigs at independent record shops.

 

Stay

Scheduled to open in Spring 2019, the Hard Rock Hotel, located on the corner of Oxford Street and Park Lane in the conversion of the existing Cumberland Hotel, will pay tribute in its memorabilia collection to former residents such as Jimi Hendrix, Diana Ross, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder and Madonna. Hard Rock Hotel London will boast around 1,000 stylish rooms and suites, together with two vibrant bars and a lively Hard Rock Cafe®. In the lobby, the world-famous Rock Shop® will feature Hard Rock’s iconic merchandise.

K West Hotel & Spa may be a four-star retreat in west London but it also prides itself on its cutting-edge style and ambience. And that’s down to its location within former recording studios where legends such as The Kinks and Bob Marley laid down tracks. Its Studio Bar is all chic furnishings and chandeliers, playing host to a cool urban crowd at the weekends.

Notting Hill-based boutique property The Portobello Hotel has a 24-hour honesty bar, which may be one of the reasons behind why so many famous musicians and bands have stayed here. Book a room here and you’ll be in the company of guests that have included U2, Mick Jagger, Blur, Alice Cooper, Oasis and the Sex Pistols – although not all at the same time (now that would be some party!)

Karma Sanctum Soho invites you to ‘live the rock star life’ – and how can you not when it has a 24-hour bar and hot tub? Two Georgian townhouses were converted into 30 boutique hotel rooms and the hotel certainly nods to Soho’s artistic and avant-garde history. The likes of Motorhead are said to have checked in here.

 

Play

Fancy ordering a pint in the same venues your rock heroes drank in or played at? London is packed with pubs and bars where your favourites kickstarted their careers – head to The Dublin Castle pub in Camden, which has hosted The Killers, Blur and Amy Winehouse both as performers and customers! Check out the Camden Assembly, (formerly known as The Barfly), a bar where Oasis, Coldplay and Franz Ferdinand crafted their art, as well as The Good Mixer, still a live-music venue and a pub Amy Winehouse, Blur, Pulp and Oasis were regularly seen at. In Earl’s Court, The Troubadour is a historic music venue where Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix both played, while in Islington, pub The Hope & Anchor has played host to bands such as U2, The Police and The Stranglers while they were cutting their teeth in the music industry. Rolling Stones’ fans can grab a bite to eat at Bill Wyman’s Sticky Fingers restaurant in Kensington.

 

48 hours in… Bristol

It’s already well-known for its Banksy street art connection and vibrant arts, culture and music scene — but there’s even more to Bristol than meets the eye.

Not only is Bristol a buzzing university city, but it’s also home of some of Britain’s quirkiest tourist attractions. It’s little wonder that in 2017 it topped a Sunday Times poll for ‘Best Place To Live’ in the UK.

Walks along the harbour or through The Downs, a public park overlooking Avon Gorge, are the perfect way to relax in between the excitement of a hedonistic 48-hour trip to this lively city, home to an eclectic art scene and the ever-present basslines of its famous music venues.

 

TIME TO CHECK IN:

Stay among the hipsters and check into the Hotel du Vin at The Sugar House, a collection of restored historic sugar warehouses. Right in the city centre, it’s the perfect base from which to enjoy the best of classic Bristolian cool.

 

DAY ONE:

 

10:00 EXPLORE EUROPE’S MOST BIKE-FRIENDLY DESTINATION

Join a tour or even hire a tandem to explore the city. If you prefer to do it yourself, you can download a cycling map from Better By Bike.

 

13:00 EAT IN A SECRET GARDEN

Fill your rumbling tum with rustic fare at local favourite The Ethicurean where you can indulge in an ethically conscious feast of seasonal produce in its whimsical walled garden setting. It is half an hour by taxi from Bristol city centre (and only six minutes from the airport); note that it’s closed on Mondays.

The mouthwatering dishes include modern British creations such as beef neck with purple sprouting broccoli to classic desserts like sticky toffee pudding. Diners can choose from an a-la-carte lunch menu or enjoy the ‘Full Feast Dinner’ served Tuesday to Saturday evenings (£28-£46 per person).

 

15:00 HEAD TO THE HARBOURSIDE

Wander down to Bristol’s historic harbour and learn why the SS Great Britain, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was called ‘the greatest experiment since the Creation.’ The steamship, one of the longest and most powerful of its time, was designed to transport passengers across the Atlantic from Bristol to New York.

Get to know the vessel’s history at the Dockyard Museum. Step aboard the lovingly restored ship, adorned with flags as if ready for departure, and imagine what transatlantic travel would have felt like in Victorian Britain. The ship is contained inside a glass ‘sea’ to repel humidity and ensure minimal corrosion. In fact, the air inside the ‘dry dock’ that surrounds the ship is as dry as the desert!

 

19:00 DINING ON THE WATER

Grab a table at the Glass Boat Brasserie. This floating restaurant, constructed from a barge, makes for an unusual dining experience and serves up classic French cuisine.

 

21:00 SECRET SPEAKEASY

Get the party started and seek out one of Bristol’s ‘secret’ prohibition bars. Opposite the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, in the city centre, you’ll find Hyde & Co, Bristol’s original speakeasy. Grab yourself a pew at the bar and sip on Sucker Punch, a tropical mix of the bar’s own Hyde Scotch, with coconut, salted pineapple, lime and creole bitters.

 

DAY TWO:

 

10:00 UNESCO CITY OF FILM

See why Bristol was named UNESCO City of Film and check out some of the city’s famous locations. From university rom-com Starter for Ten, to period drama The Duchess starring Keira Knightley, Bristol is a seriously starry city. 
 

13:00 DINE IN A SHIPPING CONTAINER

Enjoy lunch at Cargo, at Wapping Wharf, a collection of restaurants set in old shipping containers. Other spots include the delicious taco bar Cargo Cantina or opt for the ultimate comfort food at Lovett Pies.

 

15:00 EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP

No Bristolian adventure would be complete without a pilgrimage to places where the notoriously anonymous street artist, and Bristolian, Banksy made his name in the early 1990s.

See some of his iconic works, such as ‘Paint-Pot Angel’ at the entrance to the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. You’ll come across many others on a self-guided Banksy walking tour or can download the Banksy Bristol Trail app for more.

Although he’s never sold a piece, his work attracts fans from around the globe, which was the subject of Banksy’s own Oscar-nominated film Exit Through the Gift Shop, about a street art-obsessed French immigrant living in LA.

 

17:00 BOUTIQUE BUYS

Grab some last-minute buys and head back to shoppers’ haven Clifton, a picture-perfect Victorian suburb of Bristol. The area is packed with independent shops, and you’ll have the perfect opportunity to get that Instagram shot of Clifton Suspension Bridge too.

 

HOW TO GET THERE:

By air: Bristol Airport is approximately 30 minutes by express bus to Bristol Temple Meads station.

By rail: Bristol Temple Meads is under two hours from London Paddington.

By road: Bristol is 2.5 hours from London via the M4.

London’s hot shopping spots

London is one of the best shopping destinations in the world; its iconic department stores, retailers ranging from luxury to high-street to vintage to the downright quirky, plus its abundance of independent stores, food traders and drinks emporiums have always been crowd-pleasers. Never a city to stay still, the capital’s shopping scene continues to evolve, with boosts to its major shopping hubs happening right now and over the next couple of years. And the beauty of London is that there are still smaller shopping havens to discover along with the big guys.

 

The Big

West London

Already officially open, the huge shopping destination that is Westfield London has boosted its shopping and entertainment capabilities by another colossal 740,000 square feet/68,748 square metres! Many new shops and restaurants are already welcoming customers, but the openings will continue into the autumn. New stores include the ever-popular Primark, Heal’s, Boden, Space NK, Adidas and H&M, which also boasts the first-ever in-store H&M nail bar, in partnership with Go Gorgeous London. Also new to Westfield is sister company to Zara, Stradivarius, with its huge range of fashion choices for young women.

 

North London

Like it predecessors in Shoreditch, east London and Croydon, south London, Boxpark will be popping up in Wembley at the end of this year. Featuring its signature black and white look – although housed in a permanent building rather than shipping containers – this will be a food lovers’ shopping heaven; you’ll find some of the best independent and established food traders from across London, and around the world here, and look out for pop-up specials along the way. Boxpark Wembley will also be hosting more than 200 events throughout the year (large-scale events will find a home at its 2,000-capacity arena), turning it into both a cultural and foodie destination.

Just before then, autumn 2018 will see the unveiling of a monumental new shopping experience in the capital. A collection of warehouses of a former Victorian coal store has been reworked into an incredible architectural feat to create the retail destination Coal Drops Yard. Top names that have announced they will open there include Paul Smith, Lost Property of London, Cheaney, Sweaty Betty, Cubitts, Space NK, Manifesto as well as Tom Dixon; the design brand will not only open a flagship store, but a restaurant and café too.

 

South London

Battersea Power Station will reopen as a retail and leisure destination in 2020, creating the third largest retail destination in central London. Think high-end and contemporary shopping experiences in a jaw-droppingly awesome location. International brands will be stocked in stores throughout the Power Station’s two historic turbine halls; Turbine Hall A – a gorgeous Art Deco creation built in the 1930s – will house the Premium Collection, while contemporary, cutting-edge brands will find their home in Turbine Hall B, a building completed in the 1950s.

 

Discover these secret shopping neighbourhoods

Gabriel’s Wharf, South Bank

Just behind the South Bank is hidden treasure Gabriel’s Wharf, a cornucopia of independent shops, bars and restaurants. International contemporary style and handmade designs dominate the lines; think colourful and creative knitwear, such as that available at Joanne Plumb, where each garment is individually handmade. You’ll also find a superb collection of accessories shops in the wharf; Studio Hop creates fun and chic contemporary designs, while the team at Vendula London produces distinctive accessories with a funky twist. Shopping at Gabriel’s Wharf means discovering something unique to take home – this is not about high-street finds.

 

Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden

Turn down one of the ‘dials’ of Covent Garden’s Seven Dials neighbourhood, and find yourself in the secret, multi-coloured courtyard that is Neal’s Yard. Logically it’s home to the well-known organic skincare products from Neal’s Yard Remedies and just around the corner you can buy delicious British cheese from Neal’s Yard Dairy. But it’s also the place to stock up on sumptuous Sicilian delicacies at deli and wine bar Casanova & Daughters, as well as have your hair and nails done at the brilliantly named Hair by Fairy. An ‘English coffee house’, Jacob the Angel, has recently opened in the yard, created by the people behind its neighbouring restaurant The Barbary. Jacob the Angel is a blessing for those with a sweet tooth – fill up on its treats such as mini coconut cream pies and peanut butter blondies. 

 

Connaught Village, Hyde Park

A short stroll from Hyde Park is the luxury retail quarter of the Hyde Park Estate, Connaught Village, a shopping retreat of independent retailers that line the Georgian streets with their pretty pastel-coloured shop fronts. It’s here you can buy gorgeous luxury products, whether you’re looking for fine wine, eye-catching fashion or art. Fashionistas will love the selection of high-end, unique women’s clothes stores; blending culture with fashion, Kokoro London designs its ready-to-wear collection in London – in collaboration with internationally renowned artists – and produces them in Japan using luxury fabrics and traditional printing techniques. Looking to pick up a piece designed by a rising star of the fashion world? Check out The Place London for Women, where you’ll find exquisite printed fabrics from British print designer Alice Archer, flawless accessories from Diana Broussard and elegant products from fragrance designer Azzi Glasser.

 

Camden Passage, Islington: Boasting a treasure trove of shops and stalls dedicated to vintage clothes, antique stores, retro chic and cute cafés, Camden Passage is a 17th-century, cobblestoned passageway close to Angel Underground station (and not part of Camden Market!). It’s a fantastic place to find something out of the ordinary; vintage vinyl and classic comics at Atomic, antique and vintage porcelain at Caroline Carrier, art nouveau and art deco jewellery at Esme but also contemporary boutiques such as ladies clothing store Victoria Beau and independent concept store S120.

 

Marylebone High Street

Just to the back of the shopping frenzy that is Oxford Street is the retail paradise of Marylebone High Street. As it’s a little off the beaten track it means it’s quieter yet has bags of character and fabulous shopping. High-end boutiques, such as Matches Fashion, LK Bennet and Comptoir des Cotonniers are neighbours of trendy homeware store Skandium, as well as the only retail store for buttons in the capital, The Button Queen, classic furniture designs at The Conran Shop, artisanal Belgian chocolate at Pierre Marcolini and the wonderful independent bookstore, Daunt Books. Turn the corner onto Chiltern Street and buy from the myriad of beauty products found at the 200-year old, fantastically stocked pharmacy John Bell & Croyden. Nearby Moxon Street is where to go for foodie treats – cheesemonger La Fromagerie, butcher’s The Ginger Pig and Rococo Chocolate all have a home here.

 

Redchurch Street, Shoreditch

Chic boutiques sit side by side with vintage shops and all manner of independent stores at Redchurch Street in central Shoreditch, located just around the corner from Shoreditch High Street. Check out Labour & Wait and Hostem for cutting-edge menswear, and Nudie Jeans for all things denim. Stock up on cosmetics from Aesop and A.P.C or shops for contemporary interior luxuries at stores Monologue and Klaus Haapaniemi & Co.

Spotlight on: Earl’s Court and Shepherd’s Bush

Seriously good bars and cool street markets, cutting-edge theatre and smart hotels; Earl’s Court and Shepherd’s Bush may be well-known enclaves of west London – international backpackers and short- and long-term visitors have been coming to these neighbourhoods for decades – yet these areas of west London have undergone something of a renaissance in recent years. Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre is gone, streets have smartened up and there are hidden gems to discover.

 

Where to…Eat

Shepherd’s Bush

Mustard is a treasure on Shepherd’s Bush Road; a cool neighbourhood diner with sassy décor, offering up a brasserie-style menu. Its ‘Green Menu’ is packed with delicious vegetarian options and its daytime and evening menus have a considerable collection of innovative dishes all utilising British produce.

Attracting a young, hip crowd but still maintaining a traditional British pub feel is no mean feat – yet The Defector’s Weld does it with aplomb. It’s a great pub to visit anytime, but especially at the weekend; Sundays are all about its ‘Roasts and Records’, winding down after its busy Friday and Saturday nights hosting eclectic DJ performances.

Bring your appetite and head to Bush Hall Dining Rooms for a cool diner-style restaurant serving hearty comfort food and all-day weekend breakfasts. There’s also a generous cocktail list and, if you’re going to a gig at the neighbouring Bush Hall, you receive a 10% discount on your meal.

Looking for fine dining? Find it at Shikumen, located at the Dorsett Hotel, for first-class Chinese cuisine that uses British produce prepared with traditional Asian flavours and cooking styles.

Coming soon: A new restaurant Maple is set to open at Westfield London in summer 2018.

 

Earl’s Court

The Prince is something special – one street transformed until the end of the summer into an avenue of four restaurants, three bars and an English country garden (retractable roof comes as standard), all of which is less than ten minutes’ walk from Earl’s Court Underground. Food ranges from top-quality burgers and Thai canteen-style cuisine to top-notch fried chicken and bao and yakitori grill, while a deck connects it all together with the revitalised Prince of Wales pub at its heart – and possibly makes it London’s largest beer garden!

Serving up satisfyingly British, giant-scale Sunday lunches as well as everyone’s favourite, the bottomless Saturday brunch, mean The Lillie Langtry and its divine Victorian cocktail lounge means it’s always an attractive venue to visit to quench thirst and satiate hunger. The owners have also launched an innovative project called Brush and Bubbles where people can come together, whatever their artistic ability, to chat and paint while enjoying a glass of bubbly.

The Pembroke is as quintessential a British gastropub as it gets. Feast on delicious meals in the intimate dining room of this historic building, enjoy drinks in its lively downstairs bar or relax on comfy sofas and snug armchairs in its upstairs lounge bar. Head to its roof garden when the sun’s shining and come back on a Sunday when it hosts its ‘Hangover Club’ for Bloody Marys, feel-good brunches and Sunday roasts.

The Evan & Peel Detective Agency is one of the places to spend an evening in Earl’s Court; this speakeasy style bar promises a distinctly memorable evening. Book an ‘appointment’ online to get in. You’ll then be taken into a small basement office to discuss your eating and drinking needs. Huge amounts of fun and an evening to message home about.

 

Where to…Stay

Shepherd’s Bush

K West Hotel & Spa may be a four-star haven but it also prides itself on its cutting-edge style and ambience. And that’s down to its location within former recording studios where legends such as The Kinks and Bob Marley laid down tracks. Its Studio Bar is all chic furnishings and chandeliers, playing host to a cool urban crowd at the weekends. And its spa features London’s first ‘snow paradise’; chilled to -15C, a cabin has captured the feel of a snow drift designed to complement the spa’s hot-cold therapy, alternating between steam and ice environments.

Another four-star option in Shepherd’s Bush is the Dorsett Hotel, which is conveniently located for a trip to the nearby shopping paradise that is Westfield London shopping mall. Behind the historic building façade lies a distinctly modern design, destination bar and restaurants, and a chance to rejuvenate at its Spa Mika, which overlooks Shepherd’s Bush Green for some added tranquillity. And, if you’re looking for a boutique-style property that’s literally right next door to Westfield, check in to W12 Rooms, where bedroom décor is vintage-inspired.

 

Earl's Court

Look beyond backpacker hostels and you’ll find an assortment of hotels to suit all budgets. Mere minutes’ walk from Earl’s Court Underground is the colourful, contemporary style of the Hotel Indigo Kensington secreted within a luxury Victorian townhouse. It’s a bright and comfortable accommodation option with its own Italian restaurant on site – Theo’s Simple Italian – if you like what you eat you can book on to one of its regular Italian cuisine masterclasses. Steps away from here is the Henley House Hotel, another townhouse property that overlooks a picturesque residential square and combines its classical features with modern décor. Art is a key element the property and you’ll find specially commissioned photographic prints in the guestrooms as well as artwork in its garden conservatory. Boutique hotel Twenty Nevern Square is a real find three minutes’ walk from Earl’s Court station; this four-star accommodation has individually designed rooms influenced by a range of international styles; think Egyptian sleigh beds and hand-carved four-poster beds.

 

Where to…Play

Shepherd’s Bush

Quite simply, you’ve arrived in shopping heaven; Shepherd’s Bush is home to Westfield London shopping centre, a heady combination of high-street and luxury stores, beauty bars and entertainment. It’s a great place to spend even an entire day, particularly if you’re travelling with kids; you can book them into KidZania – an indoor city for kids between 4-14, with 60 real-life activities for them to participate in while you treat yourself to some retail therapy. Alternatively, head down to the newest All Star Lanes venue at Westfield London – aside from the ten bowling lanes, keep yourself amused for hours in its karaoke booths and three Art Deco-style bars.

For altogether different type of shopping experience, but one that’s equally memorable, head to Shepherd’s Bush Market. It specialises in fresh food and fabrics and is a proper west London treat; established more than 100 years ago, it’s a much-loved fixture in the neighbourhood. An extension to the market opened earlier this year, the Old Laundry Yard, an unmissable mix of food stalls, ranging from Venezuelan street food to Nigerian barbecue, and a creative community space.

There’s more to Shepherd’s Bush than shopping; catch up with culture here too. Book tickets to a gig at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, which has hosted some of the world’s most inspirational artists, from David Bowie to Adele, Amy Winehouse to Muse, as well as being a hotspot for talented newcomers. And, just ten minutes’ walk from Shepherd’s Bush Underground station, is the Bush Theatre; thought-provoking performances take place across its two theatre spaces and it’s become renowned as a home to showcase original work – be the first to see plays penned by the world of theatre’s newest and most exciting writers. 

 

Earl’s Court

When you’re in Earl’s Court you’re only a 20-minute walk from some of the capital’s greatest museums, such as the Natural History Museum, the V&A and the Science Museum. Yet take an even shorter stroll to another two museums to have on your must-visit list. First is the Design Museum, which moved to the area less than 18 months ago from its east London location, and is 2018 European Museum of the Year. Come for inspirational exhibitions or to join a specialist workshop in design practice. Right next door is the picturesque Holland Park and its 55 acres of gardens and woodland and Japanese-style Kyoto Gardens to explore. Second on the list should be an institution that describes itself as ‘a private palace of art’…and that’s a pretty accurate description of the Leighton House Museum, the former home of Victorian artist Frederic, Lord Leighton. He curated a glorious collection of art that encompasses a mesmerising Arab Hall with a golden dome, beautifully detailed mosaics and paintings by Lord Leighton himself, all in various stages of completion.

Within half an hour’s stroll from Earl’s Court you can explore some of the capital’s greatest and most fascinating sights. Kensington Palace, home to both the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex, is where royal history comes to life – visit its unmissable exhibitions, which currently comprise Diana: Her Fashion Story and Victoria Revealed. And for a fascinating afternoon out, take a stroll around Brompton Cemetery. One of London’s seven historic cemeteries, it’s here you’ll discover the stories of the thousands of people buried here among historical monuments, woodland, stoned arcades and catacombs.

Post-Christmas sales: grab a bargain in Britain

Britain may be a nation of shopkeepers, but it's also a nation of bargain hunters – especially during seasonal sale periods when shops offer huge discounts and incentives. It's not just the high street shops and major department stores that drop their prices though; many independent boutiques offer hefty savings and you can grab even bigger bargains at outlet centres such as Bicester Village near Oxford and the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet in York.

 

Post-Christmas and January sales are famous for being one of the best times of the year in Britain to make big savings, so it’s a great time to visit. Here we round-up how to make the most of Britain’s biggest sales, as well as other key saving periods throughout the year.

 

Boxing Day and January sales

The biggest sale of the year kicks off on Boxing Day (26 December). It may be a public holiday in Britain, but many shops open early to sell their discounted Christmas stock.

John Lewis famously launches its sale on 27 December to allow its staff to enjoy a Boxing Day break. The Harrods Boxing Day sale is now legendary, and crowds flock to the iconic department store in London's Knightsbridge to queue around the block overnight (serious bargain hunters start queuing as early as Christmas Eve) in order to hunt for the best bargains. Customers are even given Harrods blankets to keep warm. In previous years, the Boxing Day sale event has featured live reindeers and a performance by Florence + The Machine.

Popular high street store Next has more than 500 branches across the country and is known for the generous discounts it offers in the Boxing Day sales, with some of its stores opening as early as 6am. Selfridges department store (in addition to the London flagship store, there are also outlets in Birmingham and Manchester) is also popular at this time of year, particularly for the designer handbags and clothes on offer.

 

Easter sales

Good Friday and Easter Monday are both public holidays in Britain and the long weekend is always a regular fixture on the sales calendar. Many shops use this opportunity to sell off some of their unsold winter stock. Department store Debenhams has more than 240 stores across the country and at Easter (and at many other times of the year) you can take advantage of its popular 'Blue Cross Sale' that sees items discounted by as much as 70 per cent. After the Easter holidays you can also pick up heavily discounted chocolate eggs at Britain's main supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Waitrose.

 

Summer sales (June and July)

The date that shops launch their summer sales very much depends on a number of factors, including the weather and general trading conditions. Unlike the Boxing Day or Easter sales, the summer sales do not launch on a specific date and individual shops can start their own sales at a time that suits them. The summer sales usually kick off in July or late June and, depending on performance, can stretch into August. If it's a particularly hot summer, shops can offer considerable discounts to lure people in from the sunny streets.

 

Black Friday (the fourth Friday of November)

The American tradition of shopping for bargains the day after the Thanksgiving holiday has caught on in Britain, and Black Friday is now a major event in the yearly sales calendar. Many people buy up all of their Christmas presents, as the sales launch on the fourth Friday of November. The date is now considered to mark the start of the Christmas shopping season. Whereas Cyber Monday focuses on online sales, Black Friday is all about in-store discounts. You can expect to see crowds of eager shoppers up and down major British high streets as well as shopping malls and department stores, with many extending their opening hours. Marks & Spencer often promotes discounts of up to 50 per cent, and offers a number of promotions at this time.

 

Grab bigger bargains at Britain's outlet stores

Britain's outlet centres offer deals all year round but you can grab even bigger discounts during the main sale periods as items are marked down even further. While some stores might not observe the Easter or summer sale traditions, most outlet centres offer heavily discounted stock in the Boxing Day and Black Friday sales.

 

Britain's most famous outlet centre is Bicester Village near Oxford, a 45-minute train ride from London or an hour's drive from Birmingham. It's home to more than 130 boutiques including brands such as Gucci, Marc Jacobs and Paul Smith. McArthurGlen has designer outlets in six locations across Britain, including York (a two-hour train ride from London) and Cheshire, a 45-minute train ride from Liverpool. Clarks Village in Somerset, an hour's drive from Bristol, features around 90 stores including top British brands including Clarks, Hamleys and Hobbs.

Insider shopping guide: Bristol

So many shops, so little time! Make the most of your precious shopping hours in bohemian Bristol with this handy introductory insider guide to some of its best areas and unique shops. The city’s creative vibe extends to its abundance of independent stores.

 

Must-visits:

Clifton Village

Clifton Village is Bristol’s main boutique shopping area, and is a pretty cluster of cobbled streets. Explore stylish boutiques, gift shops, cafés, hidden gardens and the Victorian Clifton Arcade.

Owned by three sisters, Grace & Mabel is a curated mix of clothes and accessories including labels such as J Brand jeans, Paul Smith and Antik Batik, alongside local design talent. Arch House Deli in Boyce’s Avenue is a food lover’s paradise of picnic-perfect delicatessen goodies. And don’t miss Bees & Graves in Clifton Arcade, a glittering emporium of 1920s beaded dresses and vintage costume jewellery

 

Park Street
Less than 20 minutes’ walk from Clifton Village, Park Street is home to some of the trendiest shops in the city. Weapon of Choice is a dedicated street art gallery and shop. Jewellery fans can browse bold statement pieces from designers including Alex Monroe and Kate Smith at Diana Porter Contemporary Jewellery, which offers an engraving service. Walk further up to Queen Street and flick through CDs and vinyl of every genre at Rise Music, which has an in-store bar and hosts live gigs.

 

St Nicholas Market, Corn Street
Around 15 minutes from Park Street is Bristol’s oldest market. St Nicholas Market dates from 1743, and is open between 9.30am and 5pm Monday-Saturday. A maze of quirky stalls, historic architecture and street food, the market is full of character and heaven for bargain hunters, with Bristol’s largest collection of independent retailers under one roof. On Fridays and Saturdays there’s the Nails Market, with original artwork, handcrafted jewellery and vintage clothing; then two Saturdays a month, Bristol Flea Market arrives with more than 100 stalls selling all sorts of items.

 

Stokes Croft and Gloucester Road
Slightly to the north of the city is Stokes Croft, famed for its street art, including work by legendary local graffiti artist, Banksy. The connected Gloucester Road is Europe’s longest street of independent shops, and a great place for shabby chic and artisan food and drink – relaxed wine shop Grape & Grind, for example, offers a great selection of high-end and everyday wines, craft beers and artisan spirits.

 

Getting there: Bristol is in south-west England, one hour and 40 minutes by train from London.