To many of us, Sunday is a day to relax, sleep in veg out in bed or watch a TV marathon in the couch all day. It seems in London, there are some who does just that which explains why some of the shops I’ve decided to check out were closed for business. But this doesn’t mean that we cannot go out and walk around to do some window shopping. The beauty about window shopping on Sundays in London is there is no danger of buying anything impulsive because most of the shops are closed, especially in the neighborhood I’ve decided to visit the Sunday I was in London – Mayfair, north of Piccadilly Road. So off I went window shopping in Mayfair dreaming that I am a millionaire able to afford all the luxury goods I see displayed on windows. I’m certainly not going to waste my time in London vegging out at my hotel room.
As soon as I got off Green Park Station, I headed northeast towards Bond Street. I’ve always wanted to visit this area so I decided to check it out first. Old Bond Street is the address of such luxury brands such as Valentino, Gucci and Prada. If the rich in London wants to spend their disposal income on the latest fashions, this is where they would go. Continuing on northbound, I found one of the famous shopping landmarks in London – The Royal Arcade located at 28 Old Bond Street. This is one of those places you read about in guidebooks but was not sure where to find. This is one of those places I’m happy and surprised to find. But its Sunday and the shops at the Royal Arcade were closed. The shops here are the kind that you’ve never heard of but has been in business for decades even for more than a century. This covered arcade was still visited by tourists even on Sundays.
A block away from Old Bond Street, you’ll find Saville Row. This is the legendary street were the best tailors keep their shops and some are still here. Gentlemen and nobility would have their suits and other articles of clothing custom-made from one of the tailoring businesses for a time some still do. However, today most of these people had been purchasing their suits from fashion designers such as Alexander McQueen who keeps a men’s wear shop here too apart from a boutique for women at Old Bond Street.
Walking further south, I found myself at Burlington Arcade. This arcade looks a bit “newer” than the Royal Arcade by decades. Here you’ll find independent merchants along with brands such as Chanel, Manolo Blahnik both were open to the public on Sundays. The others were closed but at one end of the arcade, you’ll find a small branch of a famous French pastry shop called Laduree open for business serving their famous macarons and other French goodies.
Once you reach Piccadilly Road, you’ll find another separated arcade called Piccadilly Arcade. Here all except one shop was closed on Sunday. It seems this is the lesser known of the three arcades in the area as there are even less people passing through here. The three arcades seem to be connected in some way. It starts with the Royal Arcade, then you’ll find the Burlington Arcade, ending at Piccadilly Road. All three divided by a road otherwise, they would have been one long arcade.
My final stop of window shopping in Mayfair is, of course Fortnum and Mason. This very British institution has been around since 1707 purveying luxury goods from both British and foreign brands and manufacturers. The most famous department at this store is the food hall where both tourists and locals would purchase their house brands of teas, coffee, biscuits, chocolates, cakes, jams, jellies, and even china you would serve them in. Fortnum and Mason is an upscale department store so you can expect to see the best products you can find in all of the United Kingdom. If you go to basement floor of the food hall, this where your will find the wine cellar, seafood section, meats and poultry, produce and spices not to mention ready-made meals. They also have a wine bar at the basement level and a restaurant at the ground level. This probably the only place where you can purchase luxury goods that some people could call affordable.
After a Sunday afternoon of window shopping I am ready for a snack. There are many cafes and restaurants in Piccadilly Road you can choose from. In a cold and wet February Sunday, I decided to have some hot chocolate and cheesecake at Richoux.
Mayfair is one of the chicest and upscale neighborhood London has. We may not belong to the top echelons of society but that doesn’t mean we cannot explore places like these. Everyone is allowed to dream.