Top 10 Pre-Christmas Shopping Trips
Like it or not, Christmas is just around the corner, which means that it’s time to put your Santa’s hat on. And this winter, why not give the task of present shopping a much-needed upgrade by heading to one of the following retail hotspots?
Tamara Hinson is a Surrey-based freelance travel journalist who writes for newspapers such as the Telegraph and Guardian, along with in-flight publications and travel websites. She’s especially interested in getting off the beaten track and some of the more unusual destinations she’s visited include North Korea and Benin.
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When it comes to splashing the cash, our favourite areas in the French capital include Le Marais, which is famous for its vintage boutiques, and St-Germain des Près, where you’ll find an eclectic mix of art galleries, antique shops and design stores. Boulevard Haussmann is where to go to browse Paris’s historic Galeries Lafayette department store, while the iconic Champs Elysées has international clothing brands like Hugo Boss and Urban Outfitters.
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And while Paris might not be the cheapest place for last minute Christmas shopping, it’s definitely one of the most glamorous. This year saw the reopening of The Ritz – head to the hotel’s beautiful Salon Proust for a post-retail afternoon tea.
Despite its sprawling layout, getting between Berlin’s various shopping areas (with heavy shopping bags in tow) is wonderfully easy, thanks to an extensive, efficient network of S-Bahn, tram and bus services. Friedrichstrasse is where you’ll find the high end brands, along with several super car show rooms (perfect for dumping bored boyfriends), while the shiny new LP12 Mall of Berlin on Leipziger Platz has 270 stores. You’ll quickly spot the perfect present for achingly cool nieces and nephews on Mulackstraße, which is filled with independent boutiques selling everything from vintage fashion to quirky homeware.
Got a friend who’s been burning the candle at both ends? Slip Jo Malone’s Blackberry and Bay Travel Candle into their stocking (£22).
Head to Edinburgh for a pre-Christmas shopping trip and you’re guaranteed to come away feeling festive. Princes Street, in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, is the main shopping drag, and by the start of December the entire street sparkles with Christmas lights. Nearby George Street, which runs parallel to Princes Street, is a mecca of designer boutiques, and the old town’s cobbled Royal Mile is where to shop for knitwear and all things Scottish.
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We also love Edinburgh for its unexpected pockets of retail quirkiness, like Cockburn Street, with its vintage clothing emporiums, record shops and gift stores selling weird and wonderful knick-knacks perfect for the workplace secret Santa.
Holland’s capital has several different shopping areas, allowing you to check out this beautiful city’s best bits while whittling down that Christmas present list. We’d start with Kalverstraat and the Leidsestraat – the city’s two main shopping streets. This is where the locals shop for big name brands and it starts in Dam Square, so it’s a great place to get your bearings.
Nearby De Negen Straatjes or ‘Nine Streets’ has an eclectic mix of designer names and vintage stores, while Waterlooplein is the setting for the city’s largest flea market, and it’s also a great people-watching spot.
If you’re struggling to work out what to buy for fussy relatives, consider a last minute mission to Gothenburg. It’s a city with more than its fair share of independent stores, and plenty of cafes for that all important “fika” (the traditional coffee-and-cake stop Swedes swear by). The city centre district of Magasinsgatan is dominated by the beautiful stores of Sweden’s top clothing brands, while leafy Linnéstaden is famous for its independent boutiques. It’s also next door to Haga, an historic neighbourhood filled with antique shops and delis selling traditional Swedish sweets.
Forgetful, jet-setting friends will love Firebox’s portable chargers (£34.99), available in a wide range of emoji-inspired designs, including unicorns and ghosts.
Milan might well be known as Europe’s designer capital but there are still plenty of bargains to be had. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II has the city’s highest density of designer stores, but you can save serious amounts of cash by visiting the outlet shops which surround the city and dot Vittorio Emanuele II.
Corso Buenos Aires is another essential stop off if you’re hunting for luxury goods, but we also recommend making time to admire the chic Italian homeware at Via Moscova and vintage jewellery and clothing at Cavalli E Nastri on Via Brera.
If you’re heading to Vienna but you’re not sure where to find the best bargains, sign up for an official shopping tour, which covers everything from luxury goods to jewellery and homeware. Mariahilfer Straß is the main shopping area where you’ll find the biggest high street names, but if you’re feeling extravagant, head to the old town, which is dominated by the shiny new Goldenes Quartier, home to designer brands like Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Emporio Armani, Louis Vuitton and Mulberry.
Fashionistas will love Mariahilfer Strasse, a street lined with boutiques selling the creations of Austria’s most exciting new designers. Our top tip? If you’re looking for something traditionally Viennese, look out for the Wien Products stamp of authenticity.
It’s a well known fact that some of the best bargains can be found in Marakecch’s souks, so dust off those bartering skills and prepare to haggle. 60 per cent of Marrakech’s population are involved in an artisan trade of some sort, whether it’s weaving, ceramics or silk screen printing, so it’s a great place to find one-off pieces for that someone special. If you’re short on time, consider signing up for a shopping tour with a local tour guide from By Prior Arrangement.
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But don’t just stick to the souks. Explore the city centre and you’ll find a growing number of concept stores similar to the ones in Paris and Milan. 33 Rue Majorelle on Rue Yves Saint Laurent sells everything from rainbow-hued silicone placemats to Warhol-inspired pop art prints, while Jardin Majorelle is famous for its embroidered cushions and hand-hammered silver jewellery.
Madrid’s city centre is filled with big name brands, but there are still plenty of independent stores in Spain’s capital. You’ll find plenty of these in the streets around Calle Toledo and behind Plaza Mayor, and an abundance of quirky boutiques in the Chueca and Malasaña neighbourhoods, which are easily accessible from the city centre. The Salamanca district has some of the smartest shops, including contemporary jewellery stores like Espacio Chus Burés.
Help wanderlust-fuelled friends plan their next trip with Luckies’ Mapnetic Magnetic Map (£13.50).
Las Vegas, US
Thanks to Norwegian Airways, getting to Las Vegas has never been easier. The flight time might well be slightly longer than a jaunt to Paris or Milan (although you can still get there in under 11 hours) but getting there won’t actually cost you much more – Norwegian’s Gatwick to Las Vegas route launches on 31 October and flights start from £179 one way. Retail therapy addicts will love Las Vegas Premium Outlets North, which is crammed with the world’s biggest brands, all offering huge discounts. The Venetian Las Vegas is a maze of designer stores, while the Downtown Container Park’s galleries and boutiques have plenty of options for hard-to-please hipsters. When it comes to crash pads, we recommend Oasis at Gold Spike, Las Vegas’s first boutique hotel.