Renowned the world over as one of London
's foremost shopping destinations, this congested street is filled with tourists, day trippers and language students, not to mention the pickpockets and professional shoplifters whose hunting ground this is. It is not the shopping itself which offends but the very blandness of it all the street is filled from end to end with large chain retailers and, as such, there is little which identifies this street as uniquely "London
The international brands are actually the best of Oxford Street; at worst it is populated with discount stores, tacky souvenir shops and budget mobile phone dealers. There are, of course, a couple of notable exceptions Top Shop is an absolute mecca for young women the world over, and Selfridges is one of London's best department stores.
Unless you like greasy, nondescript, three-day-old pizza slices, it is also virtually impossible to get a decent bite to eat on Oxford Street, unforgiveable in a city crammed with fabulous food.
Better destinations are plentiful head to the more manageable High Street Kensington if you like high street fashion. If designer names are your thing, then explore Bond Street and Knightsbridge.
For an iconic London shopping experience, try Covent Garden, Neal Street and Seven Dials. If you like quirky fashion or vintage pieces, Shoreditch and Brick Lane have plenty of options. As well as avoiding the maddening crowds, you are likely to feel much more a part of the city.
Afternoon tea is an English institution. Taking tea at London
's top hotels, such as the Ritz, the Dorchester or Claridge's, is popular with tourists both domestic and foreign. So popular, in fact, that it is often necessary to book six weeks in advance (eight weeks-plus for weekends).
Not only are they over-subscribed, but they are also often overpriced (afternoon tea at the Ritz starts at a whacking £37, and other hotels charge in the region of £45 per person). Strict dress codes are adhered to men must wear jackets and ties jeans, trainers and baseball caps are prohibited.
If you prefer your afternoon tea a bit less formal, head to Browns Hotel in Mayfair, whose English Tea Room was favoured by Agatha Christie, and serves sandwiches, pastries, scones, clotted cream, a selection of teas and an unlimited assortment of cakes from the trolley.
If you are constrained by budget, try the Wolseley, where you can enjoy sandwiches, scones and pastries for under £20, as this is likely to be the only meal you can afford at such an upscale and fabulous venue.
Next: Near the beaten track
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