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How to shop till you drop: Oxford Street – what you need to know

Oxford Street

So ubiquitous to the identity of London has Oxford Street been for so long now that, in spite of the fact there are very strong calls for this 1.2-mile-long (1.9 km) major thoroughfare to be pedestrianised, it might be accurately described as one of the capital’s arteries; as critical a transit stretch as the North Circular or even the River Thames itself. But why? What’s so special; so important about Oxford Street? Well, simply put, it’s the biggest and most dominant shopping street in the whole of the city; arguably in the whole of Britain.

Oxford Street

Oxford Street facts

The premiere retail thoroughfare in the British Isles, it’s home to several high-street flagship stores and several more household-name department stores – and no surprise too given that, in total its two sides are crammed full of 300 separate, independent outlets, including cafés, eateries, coffee shops and even a restaurant and night club or two, right in the heart of London’s West End and so right on the doorstep of several Montcalm hotels.

In actual fact, the road that’s today’s Oxford Street dates all the way back to Roman times and, come the Middle Ages, acquired the moniker ‘Tyburn Road’; it grew to become the main route to and from the city of Oxford (hence its eventual name) and, in modern times, settled to stretch from Tottenham Court Road and Charing Cross Road in the east, across Oxford Circus (where it’s intercepted by Regent Street) to Marble Arch Tube station in the west.

Retail highlights


Quite frankly, whatever you’re looking for, you’re bound to find it in Oxford Street – everything from the latest sportswear (courtesy of Nike Town) to the best plus size stores in London (the likes and Evans) and everything from DVDs and audio-visual delights (the still-operating HMV) to Union Jack flags, trinkets and ‘nick-nacks’ (there’s a good number of tourist-trappy souvenir outlet, for sure). But really – and to be more specific – it’s the big name, big high-street stores that the punters flock to this thoroughfare for; not least at Christmas time when so much seasonal shopping is done and oh-so colourful, vibrant and imaginative window displays are espied.

Here then we’re talking department stores of the calibre of Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, House of Fraser and John Lewis, as well as the (aforementioned) flagship outlets for the likes of Nike, Adidas, Next, H&M, Gap, Zara, American Apparel, New Look, Primark, River Island, Urban Outfitters and Topshop (the latter of which pulls in a staggering 200,000-plus shoppers a week; yes, really). And that’s not to mention this street’s also home to the iconic, original UK department store, Selfridges; a true behemoth that comprises six floors, 11 different eateries and – get this – more than 11,000 pairs of jeans on sale.

So, it’s pretty simple then, should you be staying nearby somewhere in the West End, smartly taking advantage of hotel family packages, make sure you pay one of the world’s major retail therapy destinations a visit – because it’s great not just for picking up the latest fashion trends, but also doing so at decent prices. Yes, unlike a shopping spree in expensive Bond Street, Regent Street or Knightsbridge, a visit to Oxford Street can result in further cost-savings on your London trip!

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So ubiquitous to the identity of London has Oxford Street been for so long now that, in spite of the fact there are very strong calls for this 1.2-mile-long (1.9 km) major thoroughfare to be pedestrianised, it might be accurately described as one of the capital’s arte...

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