Visiting Burlington Arcade is like stepping into a time warp. You really are stepping back in time and it is an experience to be savoured and enjoyed.
This is where people first began to really enjoy shopping in London. It has an elegance and style that is totally different to anything else you can find anywhere in the city. It is quite simple the ‘curators of London style since 1819’ – and that is it’s own description!
Burlington Arcade can be found just a short tube ride from Regency House Hotel London in Piccadilly Circus. Walk towards Green Park and the Royal Academy, and on the right side of the road an entrance will appear, marked by chic planters and top hatted doormen standing on either side. These doormen are known as “Beadles’ who wear traditional uniforms which include frock coats and top hats.
It was built nearly 200 years ago on the orders of Lord George Cavendish. According to the stories surrounding, he lived next door in Burlington House (the building that is now the Royal Academy). Annoyed by passers by throwing rubbish into his garden, he decided to build an avenue of shops, which would cater for the type of goods that people in the upper echelons of society would buy. It was described as being for ‘for the sale of jewellery and fancy articles of fashionable demand for the gratification of the public.’ This was the birth of the first ever shopping arcade not just in London but anywhere in the UK. It is one of the longest covered shopping streets in the country. It is also noticeable that people staying in Hotels near Soho will have no problem getting to the location due to good availability of public transport.
The design and style of the arcade is still very much as it was when Lord Cavendish’s architect designed it. A carpet covers the part of the floor of the arcade, so you step quietly along its length. It is a covered avenue of around 40 shops, all of which sell only the best quality goods. This is where you can buy watches, Fashion & Accessories, Fine Jewellery, Gifts, Shoes & Leather goods.
Some of the brands are extremely well known such as Chanel, La Perla, House of Cashmere, Ciro, Penhaligon’s, Lalique, and Manolo. Others are less familiar, but equally exclusive such as Carat London, Crockett & Jones, the Vintage Watch Company, Vilebrequin.
This is very much an oasis of calm. There are no hurrying crowds, you can gently drift from shop to shop, window shopping or buying as you desire. Often, you can even get your shoes shined by a guy operating a traditional shoe shine stand within the arcade.
Coming out into Piccadilly, with rushing pedestrians, cars and buses definitely brings you back into the twenty first century. So, what are you waiting for? Book yourselves the family package at the bed and breakfast near Covent garden and enjoy shopping with your family.