Oxford Street revisited
Overloaded with chain stores, booby-trapped with charity muggers
and heaving with human cattle – for Londoners, surely Oxford Street
is hell on earth? Think again. Time Out makes a sales pitch for one
of the capital’s most vibrant and fascinating thoroughfares
|John Lewis uses muted tiles
Oxford Street top ten: from oysters at Selfridges to free gigs
at Virgin, ten great things to do on London's most famous
About half way down the eastern end of Oxford Street, at number
213, above a tiny outlet of Zara, a trio of pretty reliefs
commemorate the Festival of Britain of 1951. In the next block down
is the imposing black marble art deco Pantheon building, currently
housing a medium-sized Marks & Spencer; almost opposite is an
ornate Queen Anne-style building, better known as an H&M.
If you can see past the crowds, the tourist tack, the
endlessly repeating chain stores and the wall of red busses,
London’s most-derided street actually has a lot going for it. Moan
if you like (you won’t be alone), but then try to imagine London
The Oxford Street top ten
|In-store events at Selfridges
1 Oysters and champagne at
Jessica Cargill Thompson. Oxford Street top ten compiled by
Hannah Kane. Photography Rob Greig, Tue May 1 2007
There aren’t many good places to eat on Oxford
Street, but Selfridges has 13. You could splash out on oysters and
champagne at the Oyster Bar in the Food Court, nip to The Gallery on
the 2nd floor for a salad or grab a gelati from the street vendor by
Selfridges, 400 Oxford St, W1A (08708 377 377/http://www.timeout.com/external_link/?http://www.selfridges.com).
Bond St tube. Open Mon-Wed 10am-8pm, Thur 10am-9pm, Fri 10am-8pm,
Sat 9.30am-8pm, Sun 11.30am-6pm.
Club nights at Metro
After 11pm, this dank subterranean
den plays host to a number of reliably no-frills alternative club
nights. Choose from Tuesday nights’ metal-orientated Beautiful
People to Friday’s long-running anthem-heavy indie disco Bedrock. On
Wednesdays it’s the more up-to-date I Bet You Look Good On The
Dancefloor (which promises at least ten Arctic Monkeys tracks a
Metro, 19-23 Oxford St, W1D (http://www.timeout.com/external_link/?http://www.blowupmetro.com)
Tottenham Court Rd tube. Tickets from Stargreen (020 7734 8932/http://www.timeout.com/external_link/?http://www.stargreen.com).
3 A blow-dry at Topshop
Mecca offers more than just a fashion fix. At Hersheson’s Blow Dry
Bar you can pick a glamourous style from a choice of seven on their
hair menu, each taking less than half an hour and for just £19. To
complete the effect, grab yourself a quick manicure at the Nails Inc
concession, from £15.
Topshop, 216 Oxford St, W1D (020 7636
Oxford Circus tube. Open Mon-Fri 9am-9pm, Sat 9-8.30pm, Sun
4 Stella McCartney at
The sleek decor and toned staff here are enough to
inspire (or possibly shame) anyone into a new fitness regime. Get
ready for Wimbledon with a ’50s-inspired tennis dress from the
Stella McCartney range , £95.
Adidas, 415-418 Oxford St, W1C
(020 7493 1886/http://www.timeout.com/external_link/?http://www.adidas.com)
Bond St tube. Open Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat 10am-7pm, Thur 10am-8pm,
5 WC1 Powder
Whether you want to get ready for a bignight out,
freshen up before an important meeting or just get some respite from
the crowds, this luxurious, multi-million-pound ladies’ convenience
is a handy pit-stop. For £5 you can have a wash, use the impeccably
clean toilet facilities, soft white towels and hand
WC1, 439-441 Oxford St, WC1 (http://www.timeout.com/external_link/?http://www.wc1.co.uk)
Bond St tube. Open Mon-Sat 8am-9pm, Sun 12noon-6pm. £1 for toilets
and powder room, £5 with mini-makeover or hand
6 Free gigs at Virgin
Virgin has regular appearances from your favourite
bands, comedians and movie stars. Previous visitors have included
Lily Allen, Razorlight and comic geniuses Noel Fielding and Julian
Barratt (from ‘The Mighty Boosh’). Not to be outdone, HMV’s flagship
store has boasted gigs lately by The View, The Enemy and
HMV, 300 Oxford St, W1C (0845 602 7802/http://www.timeout.com/external_link/?http://www.hmv.co.uk)
Bond St tube. Open Mon-Sat 9am-8.30pm, Sun 12noon-6pm.
Megastore, 14-16 Oxford St, W1D (020 7631 1234/http://www.timeout.com/external_link/?http://www.virginmegastores.co.uk)
Tottenham Court Rd tube. Open Mon-Sat 9am-10pm, Sun 12noon-6pm.
7 Borders’ in-store
Literary types and skint students all make use of
this second-floor café which permits you to borrow books or
magazines from anywhere in the store and browse them at your
leisure. Definitely one of the best deals on Oxford Street.
Borders, 203-207 Oxford St, W1D (020 7292 1600/http://www.timeout.com/external_link/?http://www.bordersstores.com)
Oxford Circus tube. Open Mon-Sat 8am-11pm, Sun 12noon-6pm.
8 Cheap basics at
Head to this Japanese store for cheap basics that
won’t fall apart after one wash. If you hurry, you might find the
winter cashmere collections still on sale with V-necked jumpers
reduced to about £40.
Uniqlo, Plaza Shopping Centre, 188
Oxford St, W1N (020 7734 5369/ http://www.timeout.com/external_link/?http://www.uniqlo.com)
Tottenham Court Rd tube. Open Mon-Sat, 10am-8pm, Sun 12 noon-6pm.
The new kid on
the Oxford Street block is this 70,000 square-foot behemoth of a
flagship store which sells the ranges not always found in the other
branches, such as homewares and ceramics. Steer well clear during
lunchtimes and school holidays.
Primark, 499-517 Oxford St,
W1K (020 7495 0420/http://www.timeout.com/external_link/?http://www.primark.co.uk)
Marble Arch tube. Open Mon-Fri 9am-9pm, Sat 9am-8pm, Sun 12noon-6pm.
10 Groovy gear at
Ageing ravers might remember Mash from the late ’80s
and early ’90s when DJs such as Bryan G would play in-store sets.
The scene died away but Mash kept a following from fans of other
genres such as hip hop and drum ’n’ bass. Staffed by some of the
coolest sales assistants in London , with a banging soundtrack and
sale-rail selling clothes you’d actually want to wear, it has a cult
Mash, 73 Oxford St, W1D (020 7434 9609) Tottenham
Court Rd tube. Open Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat 10am-7pm, Thur
10am-8pm, Sun 11am-6pm.
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