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Christmas in London

Christmas shopping in London is more than just going out, buying what you need and going home again. It’s an event. It’s a full day out that takes in inevitable sightseeing, a couple of coffee stops, the actual shopping and some lunch or an early dinner in a nice pub or restaurant.

We all have fond memories of going into London to ‘see the windows’. Everyone knows what that means and it was a highlight of the year. If you don’t, the premise was simple. Each of the department stores (along Oxford Street and Regent Street predominantly) would dress up their storefront windows with the most magical displays and we’d be captivated by their Christmassy themes. Today of course we see it as a cynical marketing ploy to get us to buy their stuff but that aside, it was something we loved and that tradition continues today.

It wasn’t always like this though. The humble department store rose, not coincidentally, alongside growth of a consumerist society in the early years of the 19th century. Entrepreneurs like Josiah Wedgewood (the cups and saucers guy) pioneered what we now call marketing to influence the tastes and trends of the day. To this end, window shopping became a legitimate leisure activity and department stores acted as safe havens for Georgian ‘society’ women with disposable income who could shop unaccompanied without a slight on their closely-protected reputations.

Oxford St 1800s
Oxford Street in the late 1800s

There is some conjecture as to what was the first department store and it seems like the truth has been consigned to the annals of history but Kendal’s in Manchester (now House of Fraser) has been trading under various guises since 1796 and has a legitimate claim. If you know of an older department store, tell us on Twitter@EuracomLondon!

Perhaps the most famous department store in the world is Harrods in Knightsbridge.  A former grocery store located in a grim part of London’s East End, Charles Henry Harrod saw a gap in the market when the East India Company lost its monopoly on tea pricing in the 1830s and swooped. Harrods moved into semi-rural Knightsbridge around 1850 and started on a path to greatness.

Harrods Lights
Over 12,000 bulbs light up Harrods every night

Harrods claimed to sell literally everything ‘from a pin to an elephant’ and this claim was put to the test by then Governor of California Ronald Reagan who called the store to ask ‘do you sell elephants?’ ‘Would sir prefer African or Indian’ came the reply!

A million square feet of shopping space was sold by Chairman Mohamed Al Fayed for £1.5b to the ruling family of the emirate of Qatar soon after his son Dodi Al Fayed was killed in the Paris car crash that also claimed the life of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997.

London is home to a vast array of department stores (all of which, ironically, sell basically the same stuff) including:

Debenhams – recently the subject of a £25m makeover on Oxford Street

Fenwicks – on Bond Street is at the luxury end of the scale

Fortnum & Mason – not usually considered a ‘department store’ and they have come under fire in recent years for their insistence on selling foie gras but they do sell luggage, home wares and clothes alongside their world-famous selection of luxury foods

Harvey Nichols – noted as much for its fashion at its restaurant for the beautiful, rich and famous on the fifth floor

House of Fraser – sits perfectly in the space between Debenhams and Harvey Nicks

John Lewis – perhaps the best loved of all, they are ‘never knowingly undersold’

Selfridges – recently the subject of a dramatized TV series, contrary to popular belief, they don’t sell fridges

Selfridges under construction, c.1908

Oxford St 60s
Selfridges on Oxford Street, 1960s

They all have some incredible sales on over Christmas so if you are coming to London to do your Christmas shopping, you better book your accommodation quickly!

Here at Euracom we have some great deals on vacation apartments in London, on the doorstep of the stores, the sights and everything London is famous for! There’s still time to secure your London apartment but we are getting booked up very quickly so don’t delay, call 020 8420 7666 today! You can also email and we’ll get back to you as quickly as we can.

All that’s left for us to do is wish you a very happy Christmas and a healthy New Year. We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank you, our loyal clients who have used Euracom in 2014 and we hope to serve you just as well in 2015 and beyond.

By Rob at 8 Dec 2014

Christmas Shopping in London

Christmas in London is magical and we Londoners put on a real show for all our visitors! It’s true that shopping in London is exceptional all year round, but at Christmas, it’s just a little bit more special.

We don’t know if it’s just us, but generally speaking, Londoners have a habit of leaving their Christmas shopping to the last minute – especially the men – so here’s a handy guide so you can avoid last-minute panic buys!

If you’re staying in London over December, remember Euracom has some fantastic accommodation in Bloomsbury, Camden Town and indeed all over London and includes serviced apartments in London, holiday apartments in London and student apartments in London – something for everyone, just like the shopping!

Anyway, we digress.

People flock to London at Christmas from all over the world, but where do they go to do their shopping?

To us, one of the best places to go is to walk along Oxford Street and Regent Street. The lights are always fantastic but the real thrill is the department store windows. Each year they compete to see who has the best window displays. It’s hard to judge because they are all fantastic but one thing is guaranteed, the whole family will love it! Hamleys on Regent Street (one of the most iconic toy shops in the world) always has brilliantly inventive windows – as well as seven floors of every toy and game in the universe!

Moving around London, Covent Garden always looks beautifully festive and is a warm place to be with its boutique shops, cafés and restaurants. Trafalgar Square, now they have pedestrianised it will be a great place to be this Christmas and there are also a number of ‘pop-up’ Christmas markets and fairs that are definitely worth a visit –

Christmas at Kew Gardens – there’s lots to do for the family, including vintage and Victorian rides, a market, Santa’s Grotto, food treats and live festive music.

Handmade Christmas Fair – One-off pieces made by small, independent designers, crafters, hobbyists and foodies!

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland – Plenty of rides, stalls and attractions, including two circuses and the world famous ice-rink.

Southbank Centre Christmas Market – Loads of toys and gifts, food and drink including the German staples of bratwurst, glühwein and gingerbread!

Taste of Christmas – The Taste of London brand goes all festive! There’s food as far as the eye can see with masterclasses, demonstrations and tastings from top restaurants and special guests like Michel Roux Jr, Monica Galetti and Valentine Warner.

While it’s tempting to stay at home in the warm with the family with a hot chocolate and repeats of The Wizard of Oz and Only Fools & Horses on the telly, there really is a huge amount to do in London over Christmas. We’ve just talked about the shopping but there are ice rinks, carol festivals, grottoes, shows, pantomimes and attractions and lots of events for adults, kids and the whole family.

We promise you’ll never be bored. You won’t’ have time to be!

Where are your favourite markets, shopping streets or hidden gems n London? Where’s the place that you can’t wait to get to in the festive season? Tell us on Twitter@EuracomLondon or on our Facebook page!

Don’t forget, we have some of the best apartments to rent in London so browse through the website and then call us on 020 8240 7666 or email!

By Rob at 8 Nov 2013

London’s Markets

Here at Euracom, we have built our business on the strength of offering excellent accommodation to students, executives and tourists.

Three relatively disparate groups of people, but the all have one thing in common and while each group goes about their daily business, we’re sure that at one point or another, every one of them has visited one of London’s markets.

London’s markets are world-famous. Their origins are grounded in the Middle Ages where, under ancient charter, they were set up to serve the expanding numbers of people coming into the City of London. As the years passed, some grew into huge, wholesale markets catering for the new breed of retailer and some became street markets to meet the needs of the growing suburbs.

There are traditionally two types of markets here in London – wholesale and consumer – but there is a third type of market that has emerged over the last 5-10 years that Londoner’s have come to love – the Farmer’s Market.

We won’t focus too much on the wholesale markets but they are worth visiting simply because of their sheer scale and history.

Wholesale Markets

New Covent Garden Market is the UK’s largest fruit, vegetable and flower market. It supplies 40% of the fruit and veg eaten outside of the home in London and 75% of London’s florists buy their flowers there each morning.

Billingsgate Fish Market is the UK’s largest inland fish market and they process 25,000 tonnes of fish and seafood every year.

Smithfield Meat Market is one of London’s oldest markets – meat has been traded here for over 800 years – and is open to the public.

Consumer Markets

The beauty of London’s consumer markets is in their eclectic nature. You can buy, within reason of course, almost anything, from high-end art and antiques to second-hand books to flowers, clothes, food from every corner of the globe, gifts, curios, handmade goods and jewellery.

Opening hours vary from market to market (some are permanent and some operate on certain days of the week only) so it’s worth checking before you go but one thing is for sure, there are great markets operating every day of the week and you will never be lost for a market in London to go to!

Borough Market – Fresh foods, fruits and vegetables as well as specialist ingredients. A gourmet’s paradise!
Greenwich Market – Jewellery, clothes, accessories, gifts and pictures. There’s also a food court and lots of local, independent shops.
Covent Garden Market – London’s most famous craft market. Look out for the street performers too, some of them will blow your mind!
Jubilee Market – Antiques on Monday, arts & crafts on the weekend and then a general market. It’s in the heart of Covent Garden and definitely worth a short detour!
Camden Lock Market – Clothes, art, workshops, accessories, gifts and punky counterculture stuff with a very cool vibe and lots of street food stalls.
Broadway Market – Artisan foods as well as clothes, gifts and furniture in Hackney, one of London’s coolest and vibrant areas.
Old Spitalfields Market – A covered market selling clothes, art, food and gifts and you can nip up the road to Shoreditch to hang with the cool crowd!
Portobello Market – Antiques, artisan foods, posters, vintage and designer clothes and artwork. It’s been here for almost 200 years and Saturdays is the best day to come.
Leadenhall Market – Designer clothes and shoes, fresh food, gifts and services. It dates back to the 14th century and is in the heart of the City.
Brick Lane Market – Bric-a-brac, leather clothes, saris, spices and other Eastern delights. A real hotbed of cultures, Sundays is the best day to come.

Farmer’s Markets

Farmer’s markets are a relatively new addition to the London market scene. Simply put, they are weekly markets set up by local and artisan food producers to sell the fruits of their labours. Where previously we have bought our French cheese, our Spanish ham and our Middle Eastern fruit from American supermarkets, now Londoners can buy direct from the source. Local, seasonal foods that haven’t been corrupted by ‘food miles’ and import duties made by local, artisan producers who care more about the quality of the produce they serve rather than their profit margin.

Every week around the country, farmer’s markets are popping up wherever there’s a suitable space – car parks, school playgrounds, fields, town squares and high streets and while there is an argument that you may end paying slightly more for your apples that you would at any high street supermarket, you know for sure they have been picked off a tree by the guy selling them to you within 10 miles of where you’re standing rather than having been mechanically harvested in China or Turkey.

To find your nearest farmer’s market, click here.

Remember, we have some of the best apartments to rent in London so browse through the website and then call us on 020 8240 7666 or email today!

By Rob at 11 Oct 2013

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