British Travel | 25th July 2023
The best cities for shopping in the UK in 2023
Where to go for premium retail therapy
Seeking a weekend break away in a destination that not only offers a bit of much needed R & R but also the chance to get a first-class shopping fix?
Whether you’re in the market for designer labels or cutting-edge independent fashion, artisan jewellery and art works, luxury modern homewares or antiques, check out our pick of the best city breaks for shopping in the UK.
Shopping in Cheltenham
The charming festival town of Cheltenham is a gem of a destination when it comes to truly great shopping experiences. While the High Street, home to two popular shopping arcades including the Regent Arcade Shopping Centre, is worth a visit for your favourite chain stores, those with a nose for fashion should gravitate to The Promenade. This beautiful tree-lined street is considered one of the most stylish shopping havens in England. Here, you’ll find some of the most coveted clothes shops, and the best independent shoe shops in Cheltenham. But for the chicest of labels and unique sartorial delights, the independent shopping enclave of Montpelier is the star attraction. In addition to specialist boutiques, this area has a Parisian vibe with plenty of wonderful pavement cafes and little bars for wine stops. And bibliophiles, rejoice — this is also the place for foraging in the best book shops in Cheltenham. Looking for treasure? You’ll also find the finest collection of antique shops in Cheltenham in Montpelier and neighbouring area, The Suffolks.
Where to stay: Make it a memorable shopping break with a night or two in Cheltenham’s chicest retreat — Ellenborough Park Hotel & Spa. This stylish country house hotel, nestled in 90 acres of glorious grounds, is a firm favourite with fashionistas.
Shopping in Edinburgh is a heady mix of traditional and contemporary delights. The Scottish capital is internationally celebrated for its fine wool and cashmere clothing and Edinburgh’s specialist stores are a joy to peruse. Princes Street is the most famous shopping street and home to all your high street favourites, as well as Jenners, the city’s iconic department store. The two main shopping malls — St. James Shopping Center and the Waverley Shopping Center — are also close by but a wealth of unique goods and independent designers of everything from clothes to ceramics await those who stray from the beaten track. Wander around the cobbled streets of the old town where you’ll discover local artisans, designers, and producers. And be sure to treat yourself to a bottle of fine Scotch whisky or a box or two of Edinburgh Rock - the city’s famous sweets.
Where to stay: For a unique shopping trip in Edinburgh, stay aboard the luxurious Fingal — a floating luxury hotel docked on Edinburgh’s vibrant waterfront and within easy reach of the city centre’s top retail, entertainment and cultural attractions.
With its stunning architectural wonders - including the spectacular Gothic York Minster Cathedral - and an increasingly delicious spread of fabulous restaurants, York is already ticking our boxes for a great city break. The options for retail therapy more than enhance this city’s appeal as a weekend break destination. When shopping in York, make a beeline for the Shambles — a mediaeval street lined by innovative independent shops and restaurants, or get your fashion fix in the chic boutiques of Stonegate and Petergate. The big brands are also in abundance, and you’ll find all your familiar high street names in the nearby Coppergate Shopping Centre and dotted along Coney, Davygate and Parliament Street.
Where to stay: If you’re in the mood for chilling out in a country estate surrounded by lush gardens and parklands, make the elegant Middlethorpe Hotel & Spa your base. Enjoy a relaxing spa treatment after a day of shopping or indulge in a sumptuous meal at the award-winning restaurant.
The beautiful city of Bath is famous for its Roman Baths and glorious Georgian architecture, but did you know it’s also one of the best places for shopping in the UK? Yes, of course, you’ll find the major chains as standard but one of Bath’s standout highlights is the historic Guildhall Market. This bustling spot filled to bursting with stalls has attracted shoppers for 800 years and today sells wonderful handmade goods and crafts as well fresh produce. And for special purchases and gifts, you’ll adore The Corridor. With its beautiful glass ceiling, this retail haven is arguably one of England’s loveliest shopping arcades and the place for handmade jewellery, indie and vintage fashion and a range of artisan products. And you’re never very far from a charming lunch spot or refined watering hole.
Where to stay: Fancy relaxing in Georgian splendour and enjoying an elegant afternoon tea after your foray to the shops? The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa is the top choice for those seeking a sophisticated base in this historic spa town.
Shopping in Manchester is full of both trusted favourites and beautiful surprises. If you’re a lover of vast modern shopping malls, you’ll be shopping til you’re dropping in the Manchester Arndale or The Trafford Centre which are stuffed full of big-name chains under one roof. But if you’re hungry to go hunting for vintage treasures or unique and more cutting-edge fashion, shoes, and jewellery, you’ll have a ball shopping in the Northern Quarter. This cool area of the city is home to some of the best shops in Manchester, as well as some fun and tasty venues for wining and dining.
Where to stay: While Manchester is not short of premium hotels, for those who seek a refuge away from the madding crowds Northcote, a country manor hotel on an exclusive estate with Michelin-starred restaurant in the Ribble Valley, is guaranteed to impress. It’s 34km and approximately a one-hour drive to bustling Manchester.
This much-loved seaside city has something for everyone. A mix of your retail favourites, unique boutiques, and a flair for beautifully curated vintage clothing and homewares stores make Brighton one of the best places for shopping in the UK. Churchill Square Shopping Centre is the place for the usual while the unusual awaits you in Brighton Lanes, where you’ll find fabulous boutiques selling independent fashion designer clothing, shoes, jewellery, and arty homewares. If you’re in the market for a bargain or a piece of vintage fashion, you’ll adore the colourful North Laine. And when it comes to a restorative coffee, brunch, lunch or cocktail, few cities offer such a cheering mix of feasting and retail experiences within easy reach.
Where to stay: Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa in Cuckfield is one of Sussex’s best loved hotels, thanks to its gorgeous Elizabethan architecture, sumptuous interior design and state-of-the-art spa. Brighton is just a 30-minute drive away.
The capital, of course. London is not just one of the best cities for shopping in the UK, but one of the best in the world. Shop until you drop on Oxford Street — London’s most famous high street is where you’ll find all the national and international chain brands. But if you’re seeking a more stylish experience, head to Regent Street, New Bond Street and South Molton Street where you’ll find top designer labels as well as the flagship stores of some of the world’s most prestigious fashion houses. For a tantalising mix of high-end chains and indie boutiques, both the King’s Road and Marylebone High Street are a joy, while Covent Garden offers more of the same plus a wealth of restaurants and cafés. Camden Lock is the place for a more eclectic mix of independent fashion stores and all things vintage plus artisanal products and handmade gifts. Trendy Portobello Road Market is the best place for antique shopping, boasting the world’s largest antique market with over 1,000 dealers selling an array of collectables and boasting a number of award-winning restaurants and vibrant bars located close for shoppers to enjoy an indulgent lunch or glass of wine in.
Where to stay: Seeking a smart and tranquil home-from-home in the heart of the city? The Capital Hotel, Apartments & Townhouse in Knightsbridge offers a beautiful base filled with original art and antique furnishings - and Harrods is just around the corner!