Friday, November 27, 2015

WHERE SHOPPING IS GREAT...IN LONDON



If there’s one thing us Malaysians love more than eating, it has to be shopping! Even sky-high foreign currency exchange rate is of no deterrent to our ‘shop till you drop’ habit.
 malaysia airlinesVisit Britain
Thanks to Malaysia Airlines (MAB) and Visit Britain (VB), our recent visit to London proved shopping is great indeed in Britain...or in our case – London. Whether you’re a toff or not, the art of gifting this festive season is a walk in the park thanks to the mind-boggling variety that leaves even the most seasoned shopaholics gobsmacked. Based on my brief sojourn, the FAB FOUR spots where shopping is great for me are:


BICESTER VILLAGE
Do you know Malaysians form the 3rd largest group of customers to Bicester Village? With over 130 luxury brands at the doorstep, chic outlet shopping is a complete breeze at this stylish retail haven. When I mentioned my impending visit in Facebook, a chorus of approval from my friends made me even more intrigued.
As guests of Dorsett Shepherd’s Bush, we were told we would enjoy an extra 10% VIP discount at Bicester! Get your VIP invitation at the Hotel Concierge to exchange for a VIP card at the Bicester Visitor Centre. 
This is a cosily furnished area with plush sofas and an affable team will proffer a host of convenient services such as Hands-free Shopping, Personal Stylist, Valet Parking and Luggage Drop.

From Dorsett Shepherd’s Bush, we took a short 15-min drive to London Marylebone Station. That’s where we boarded a 38-min train ride on Chiltern Railways straight to Bicester Village Station
Time passed swiftly on board - the smooth train journey made easier with comfy carriages outfitted with WiFi and power plug points so you can make productive use of your travelling time.
Upon arrival, our group was warmly welcomed by the ValueRetail team and hosted to a delicious farmhouse-style lunch featuring the best of British fare at the rustic FarmShop restaurant.
 
A brand new, all day dining restaurant created exclusively for Bicester Village, the FarmShop serves local British and seasonal food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 
 
The menu highlights locally sourced produce, from Scottish salmon with lemon mayo and spit-roast chicken with aioli to flourless chocolate cake and Bramley apple pie with ice cream.
After that indulgent lunch, we meandered around the rows of low-rise, well-designed boutique stores which beckoned invitingly with their attractive showcase displays. Most of the prestigious boutiques were clustered around an open-air, landscaped boulevard, evocative of the charming villages of south-east England.
If you’re into designer goods, the pickings are rich. The boast about 60% off regular retail prices at Bicester gained credence after we popped into Michael Kors, Coach, Clarks, Le Creuset and Burberry to name but a few. 
Malaysia Airlines Enrich members will also enjoy some rewards when they shop at Bicester Village. Check for info in the BV-MAB Frequent Flyer programme: http://www.bicestervillage.com/en/guest-services/village-services/frequent-flyer-programmes


BURLINGTON ARCADE
This is the world’s first shopping arcade thanks to Lord George Cavendish from Burlington House (now the Royal Academy) who commissioned the covered promenade of shops to be built in 1819. Besides providing gratification to the public, the 72 small-storey was supposedly a CSR project of sorts, as the shops were meant to employ industrious females after the war.
Photo courtesy of Chasingfooddreams

According to Head Beadle Mark Lord (pix above), the Burlington Arcade Beadles are not only the oldest and smallest private police force in London but they are also the best source of information about the arcade. With 13 years under his belt, Mark knows the arcade, the shops, its people and products inside out. 
Walking us through the revered space, Mark regaled us with the arcade’s illustrious history, ornate curvilinear elements found on its arches and grill work, and enhancement efforts undertaken: the new floor’s non-slip coating and the replacement of the stepped entrance with a gently sloping ramp. The latter has enabled one of the Burlington’s most loyal customers to manoeuvre her wheelchair into the arcade completely unaided.
He also pointed out to us distinctive tenants like Hancocks, a much respected jeweller commissioned to produce the Victoria Cross awarded to soldiers and sailors starting in June 1857. Others include Ladurée from Paris and Kwanpen from Singapore proudly touts its fine handmade croc leather in vibrant colours and refined detailing in Palladium or 18K Gold.
Burlington Arcade has also seen its fair share of dramatic happenings, from fire and robbery to interesting anecdotes about world-famous patrons such as Fred Astaire and Ingrid Bergman. It was also the location of choice for Hollywood flicks such Patriot Games and 101 Dalmatians.
Want to procure a bespoke bauble or two for someone who has it all? Looking for a one-of-its-kind heirloom or vintage Rolex to adorn your wrist? You’d find it at Burlington Arcade...us plebeian foodies can always find succour in the bejewelled hues of Ladurée’s famed macarons.
 
For a bespoke experience of the Burlington Arcade Beadle Tour on Monday to Friday from 10.30am to 4.30pm, please contact: http://www.burlington-arcade.co.uk

COMING UP: More shopping spots: Westfield London & Borough Market

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