The festive season is upon us making it the perfect time to visit The Royal Exchange, one of London’s best-kept secrets for seasonal shopping. Only there – sheltered from the elements and the hordes inside cosy boutiques – can gift-seekers lose themselves in everything that Christmas shopping should be: namely, a complete delight. With boutiques that strike a winning balance between the classic and the au courant, visitors can trip merrily from one pleasure zone to another, amassing pretty packages to delight everyone on the list.
For the bold and the beautiful, Lulu Guinness makes a natural port of call, with a penchant for the playfully retro in shades of red and black. The whimsical Scattered Lips Silk Scarf will bring joy to any Christmas stocking (if you can bring yourself to give it away), while the modishly monochrome Cadence Court shoes exude party season pizzazz with a rounded toe, diagonal striped heel and snazzy scarlet buttons.
The soothing scent of leather envelops you upon entering Sage Brown, and its eye-catching red Concertina Clutch Purse makes a suitably elegant addition to this brightly coloured bundle of gifts. Handmade from butter-soft, full-grain calf leather, this design combines the plush and the practical with coin sections, card pockets, ID window, and a full-length note zone. Add an extra personal touch by having initials embossed in the right-hand corner.
Enamelling specialist Halcyon Days is the holder of not one, but three Royal Warrants – one of only 14 British brands to receive this honour. Enamelling on copper has been an English tradition for centuries, and Halcyon Days has become its home; every hand-decorated piece is a work of art. You will find it impossible to choose between the Maya red and gold bangle and the Honeycomb black and gold incarnation. The solution: take both and reserve one for yourself.
Finally, Links of London’s Timeless Necklace reveals itself as the perfect keepsake for that certain someone. The intricate open work of this 18ct yellow gold vermeil pendant resembles the face of London’s iconic Big Ben. Versatile as it is beautiful, its centre can be engraved with a date or initial, while the chain can cunningly be worn at different lengths.
And there we are, Christmas shopping all wrapped up in one very enjoyable escapade. Off, then, to peruse one’s purchases while savouring an English 75 in the Grand Café, toasting the hidden gem that is The Royal Exchange.
Hannah Betts is a feature writer, interviewer, and columnist for an array of British broadsheets and magazines, including The Times and The Telegraph
Above, from left: Scattered Lips Silk Scarf, £95, Lulu Guinness; Concertina Clutch Purse in red, £110, Sage Brown; Maya red and gold bangle, £175, Honeycomb black and gold bangle, £140, both Halcyon Days; Cadence Court, £275, Lulu Guinness; Timeless Necklace, £250, Links of London