It’s no secret that Oxford Circus is one of the busiest shopping destinations not only in London, but the entirety of Europe. Whether you’re staying at the nearby Marble Arch Hotels for business or for pleasure, you’ve probably passed or at least walked down part of Regent’s Street and Oxford Street. These two bustling shopping hubs create what is known as Oxford Circus, simultaneously a commuting hub and shopping district that serves as a powerhouse of London’s atmosphere and energy.
First time visiting Oxford Circus? You might feel a little overwhelmed. The famous flagship department stores, tourist nectar and restaurants make for quite the overload of sensory stimulation. With its many options for shopaholics, this guide will help you to navigate and conquer the famous shopping district easy step by easy step.
How Long Has Oxford Street Been Top Of The Shops?
Though it’s developed into a major shopping and business hub, Oxford Circus saw its beginnings as a practical solution to rapid population growth. As a major thoroughfare through the centre of London, Georgian and Regency era architect John Nash utilised the “circus”, a specific type of roundabout and junction crossing, to help manage traffic. Opened in 1819, the area saw further redevelopment over a 15 year period between 1913 and 1928 when it was reorganised around four quadrant buildings that in the past, have been used by the BBC, Co-Operative Society, Topshop and many other businesses. With recent renovation in 2009, Oxford Circus has been made even more efficient and to this day is a popular tourist, commuter and shopping hub thanks to its organisation and centrality.
Department Stores Of Oxford Circus
Guests at luxury hotels in London will no doubt be within easy reach of Oxford Circus. This makes shopping in London even more feasible. Below are some of the most popular and unique department stores in the area.
John Lewis is probably the most British department store there is and dates back to 1864. Stretching over 6 floors at 300 Oxford Street, John Lewis specialises in homeware, branded fashion and technology products as well as having its own boutique supermarket. John Lewis has, in recent years, developed its own pick up and delivery service from the London branch, making stressful tasks like Christmas shopping all the easier.
Fortnum & Mason
Though technically in the Piccadilly area and not on Regents Street, Fortnum & Mason is a well known department store that is well worth the five minute walk off the main stretch. Fortnum & Mason dates back 315 years and was originally opened as a grocery store before stretching into homeware, interior decorating and tea rooms.
One of the most lavish department stores on Oxford Street, the Grade II listed building in which Selfridges sits, is second only to Harrods in the Knightsbridge area. Selfridges offers a range of designer fashion products, homeware, tech and other wide ranging products, Selfridges has been awarded the title of “world’s best department store” numerous times in its tumultuous history.
The flagship shopping store for fashion and sportswear brand Nike, NikeTown stretches over several floors and acts as the flagship London shop for all Nike products. For shoe enthusiasts, Nike ID, situated in the shop, offers you a chance to design your own Nike shoes, ensuring that you have your own personalised footwear that really stands out.
The H&M flagship store on Oxford Circus spans several floors and is the largest H&M outlet in England. Just a stone’s throw from Oxford Circus Station and easy to reach for guests of Central 5 star hotels in London, H&M is your one stop shop for great value casual and formal clothing.
Top Tips For Oxford Circus
So it’s all well and good knowing the top stores on Oxford and Regent Street, but how do you navigate the many high street opportunities without draining your energy? Indeed, even just an hour in Oxford Circus risks draining you of your will to further explore the city of London. These tips should help you battle shoppers fatigue and navigate the busy junction stress and tear free.
Avoid Peak Times
The first aspect of Oxford Circus to remember is that it is a transport hub first and a shopping street second. Thanks to its central locale, Oxford Circus has become one of the busiest areas in London. Serving the Central and Victoria Lines and within easy walking distance of offices and workplaces across the centre of the city, the area can become rather congested between the times of 7.30 am and 9.30 am and between 4.30 pm and 7 pm. It ‘s for this reason that whenever you shop on weekdays, it’s best to avoid these time frames.
Escape To A Cafe On Carnaby Street
All getting a bit much? Though it’s still by no means deserted, the many cafes and eateries on the nearby Carnaby Street can provide some much needed respite from the constantly bustling Oxford Circus and Soho area. Just a five minute walk away, the independent boutiques as well as the high watermarks of coffees and pastries on Carnaby Street can be a great escape or antidote to a day of Oxford and Regency Street shopping.
Though you’ll probably want to avoid the aforementioned rush hours, an early arrival at Oxford Circus can help you beat the queues and find the bargains. Indeed, there are often sales in many of the flagship Oxford Street shops. On weekdays, aim for the 10 am, post rush hour but pre lunch break time period.
Cultural Breaks Aren’t Far Away
If shopping’s not your thing, remember that Oxford circus also has many cultural opportunities including music venues such as the 100 Club and the Regent Street Cinema, both of which have a vital role in the culture of the area. On top of this, the Photographer’s Gallery is just a short walk away, providing an in-depth exploration of international art within the photographic medium.