Living in London, it can often be difficult to appreciate its true beauty. When you pass through the same streets everyday, you tend to forget to admire the architecture or the amazing shopfronts as you race to get to wherever you need to go on time. Until Christmas.
When the annual lights are switched on across the capital, suddenly the streets are illuminated with twinkly lights. It signals the time for festivities and kickstarts the most magical time of the year - and that is particularly true of Carnaby Street.
For Christmas 2021, the area is adorned with a Kaleidoscope Christmas installation that will put you into the celebratory mood - Omicron be damned. More than 600 3D and 2D butterflies make up the adornments, each decorated with bright neon designs and set above pink shimmer discs to add to the twinkle. In collaboration with Choose Love, it’s a suitably colourful and eye-catching effect with rainbow arches and festoon lights. Don’t miss the shopping street’s iconic Union Jack - made with 30,000 red, white and blue shimmer discs it will have you feeling patriotic in all the right ways.
The area has a long and iconic history dating back to the 1600s. The West End hotspot was the birthplace of the Swinging Sixties and has always been at the forefront of the succeeding movements and a true destination for homegrown and foreign visitors alike.
Whether it’s for that last minute seasonal shopping, a chance to enjoy the magical lights or a staycation in that Twixmas period where time feels suspended, head down to Carnaby Street.
Where to stay: Soho Hotel
While set among the hustle and bustle of the West End, you’ll find the Soho Hotel down a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it one-way road down Richmond Mews. It plays host to 85 bedrooms and suites and a beautifully decorated restaurant and bar - and yet the bolthole will help you escape from the noise into a respite of calm. The aesthetic is super modern but lively and vibrant. There’s no neutral colour palettes in sight - it’s all bold, bright and beautiful.
Buy now, Soho Hotel
Where to eat lunch or dinner: Korean Dinner Party
You’ll never go hungry in London’s Carnaby. There’s a seemingly endless selection of restaurants that include Polpo (Italian tapas), Pastaio (freshly made pasta), Dirty Bones (burgers and more) and Ugly Dumpling (the clue is in the name). Opening back in summer 2021, Korean Dinner Party comes from the brains behind Peruvian restaurant Señor Ceviche.
Like its sister, it’s also set in the date-ready Kingly Court vicinity but on the top floor. It takes inspiration from LA’s Koreatown with menus starring popular favourite like KFC (cauliflower, not chicken) and 48 hour beef short rib tacos, kimchi pancakes and an unusual but tasty corn dog. Drinks-wise, you can’t miss the Hello Kitty-inspired lychee cocktail or a shot (or three) of the signature Soju liquor.
Buy now, Korean Dinner Party
Where to eat breakfast: The Breakfast Club
Scattered across the capital, The Breakfast Club is rarely seen without a queue weaving out of the door and there’s a very good reason for that. The restaurant chain does brunch very, very well. They have all the classics - from a Full English to the All American - as well as luxe twists like putting truffle into scrambled eggs on toast. Choosing just one thing on the extensive and drool-worthy menu may just be the most difficult decision you’ll make that day.
Buy now, The Breakfast Club
Where to shop: Carnaby Street
Carnaby Street is known for its array of boutique shops. The eclectic mix tends to favour the one-off, independent establishments over the chains - and as we’ve all tried to switch up our shopping habits to buy better, local and support small businesses, it’s the ultimate destination to pick up some pre and post Christmas bits.
You may recognise the name from its long-standing concession in the big Topshop on the corner of Oxford Circus (R.I.P). The piercing specialists have rediscovered its roots and returned to its own establishment, setting up shop in Carnaby. Dating back to 1990, the professional body and ear piercing service combines its 30 years of expertise so you can be content in the knowledge that you’re getting the best. They have also expanded into jewellery, using quality metals that will stand the test of time without tarnishing and while being kinder to fresh holes.
Buy now, Metal Morphosis
One step into Annie’s Ibiza’s Carnaby store and you’ll be scanning your diary for your next party. Annie Doble - the brain’s behind the shop - has filled her location with glitzy, playful pieces that tend to be vintage revivals or one-of-a-kind pieces curated from all over the globe. The store is already a fan favourite among the celebrity set, counting the likes of Kate Moss, Peggy Gou, Paris Hilton and more among its loyal clientele.
, Annie’s Ibiza
Soho House has transformed its once Cowshed spa into a mini boutique for its homeware collection. Instead of being a traditional brick-and-mortar shopping destination, it acts as Soho Home Design where you can make the most of design services from the team that curated its legendary member’s clubs.
Buy now, Soho Home
New to the Carnaby block, Freshly Cosmetics has set up a beauty destination you can’t afford to miss. The Spanish beauty brand has unveiled an eye-popping yellow destination for its plant-based beauty products as the first store outside of its home country. Almost all of the products are natural, vegan, cruelty-free and sustainable, and all the packaging is made entirely of recyclable glass, aluminium, kraft and wood.
Buy now, Freshly Cosmetics