‘What’s the mauuuuuuul?’ Ruth asked me as we were enjoying drinks somewhere trendy in London in the late 90’s.
She is a fabulous British girl that Mr. Sunny introduced me to when I lived here first as an intern for NBC News- London Bureau.
Through the conversation, I learned that British girls didn’t really understand the concept of shopping malls because they had ‘high streets’, which was a term that she needed to translate for me since it is foreign to Americans.
Mall Shopping in London has come a long way since then, thanks to Westfield London.
There are actually two ‘malls’ now in London that I feel are equivalent to the concept of a galleria in America. They are both Westfield and are located in Stratford and White City. Both feature stores that have items that are priced from moderate to luxury, as well as have a ‘food court.’
These are observations I have made based on visits to them all:
– Crowds generate during peak times no matter where you are. Big surprise.
– Products may vary, but the standard stores you see in American malls (American Apparel, Banana Republic, Gap, Apple, H&M) are the same.
– The layout is identical. Multiple floors, open space in the middle, corridors of shops.
– American food courts aren’t too impressive. In London, you’ll find fish and chips, Indian and Vietnamese cuisine, as well as other international foods.
While American food courts focus mostly on pizza, shakes, burgers and fries, I did notice this sneaky new addition to Westfield London.
– Anchor Department Stores are less exciting in London. In large American malls you generally see Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s or Nieman Marcus. Westfield London has Debenhams, House of Fraser, M&S and Next, which I don’t feel are very chic.
For those types of department stores in London, you must go to Knightsbridge and shop in Harrods or Harvey Nichols.
Aside from being the only two locations to offer a shopping experience in London which mirrors that of an America mall, Westfield also offers an array of special services. I enjoyed using the app which directs shoppers to stores and sales based on preferences selected. My variables entered indicate:
Westifeld London also offers valet parking and free wifi that works fairly well.
Shopping in London: Final Thoughts
Since the Westfield locations are on the outer East and West edges of Central London, you should visit them if you’re in London for an extended amount of time and want to isolate all of your shopping to one indoor area.
I plan to write and vlog later about where to shop in London, especially for my American friends who are visiting London for the NFL games and want to pick up some truly unique British items and souvenirs. So, if you’re a Londoner, please leave your shopping at Westfield London experience information and shopping in London suggestions below!
Tammy Chrzan says
I was at Westfield this summer and I honestly got lost! I rented a flat in Stratford, and I took the wrong exit from the train… I was in Westfield for an hour, just trying to find my way out! So many exits… So HUGE!!!
Have a great weekend!
Sunny London says
Oh yes! My first time at both Westfield locations was the same overwhelming experience! So many stores, so little time!
One of the stupidest things being done here in America is tearing down climate controlled malls to imitate falsely the European outdoor malls. It doesn’t work for several reasons.
One the cost of each individual store heating/cooling goes WAY up since now they have to often heat a larger space with exterior doors constantly opening and closing making the stores exposed to the elements both hot and cold.
Two. A LOT of driving around. The worst design is the Keizer Station in Oregon but one place the ZCMI mall in Utah was torn down and converted to an outdoor use which is asinine giving Utah’s extreme climates.
Keizer station which is a weird figure 8 which one figure goes under the other one and unless you live there where you go to it all the time you never know which road you’ll wind up on so it wastes more gas and if you believe in it causes more global warming then having a mall does.
At least malls you park your damn car in one spot often with security cameras if it has a garage and you walk the rest of the time and they are only heating one building/unit.
Three. Climate is a lot more wild/dynamic here then in Europe.
In Southern Europe except for two months out of the year nice weather is almost a guarantee so easy to plan for. Northern Europe only a few months out of the year the weather isn’t piss poor so it’s easy to heat buildings and plan for snow infrastructure.
UK/Ireland is a rare exception due to it’s geography location being close to the Atlantic for warmth (Especially Ireland which hardly ever has sub-freezing weather) but also close to the inland for some extremes that give you a taste of either warm or cold humid or dry. Take your pick.
Neither extremes last for very long in the UK/Ireland for the most part with rare exceptions
Bend Oregon in Central Oregon the high desert torn down it’s mall in the early Obama era to be more *Trendy* which they assumed everyone would go to The Mill District which is all high end trendy shops for people with I-macs and I-phones not afraid in the slightest to do magic tricks on their wallet.
Bend Oregon is an ASININE place to put an outdoor mall they are warm to hot in the summer but the winters are brutal cold mostly at night down in the high teens on the (F) temp scale.
(It doesn’t snow as much as you think it would) but they do get it at times.
I feel sorry for shoppers at Christmas even bundled up if it’s windy BURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!