Regent Street and St James’s: a go-to for IRL experiences this summer
From experiential shopping to destination dining, innovative fitness classes to pioneering beauty treatments, Regent Street and St James’s are bringing London back to life
Thanks to their central London location – in the heart of the West End – Regent Street and St James’s are a one-stop-shop for culture, experiential shopping and world-class dining. Hundreds of years of honing and refining has allowed this swathe of stately streets to attract the best in business. Here, neoclassical shopfronts house a mix of flagship stores and independent boutiques, while the many world-class restaurants and bars dotted in between make the area an ideal location for hosting long-overdue catch-ups with friends and family. And with the crème de la crème of independent fashion, fitness, beauty and culinary expertise all here, a fulsome day out is reachable from all six London zones (and beyond).
Claudie Pierlot, Regent Street
If shopping during the pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s that the online sphere is no place to purchase big investment pieces. Whether carefully selecting a designer bag or seeing your son into his first suit, these moments deserve the intimacy, expert guidence and immersive excitement (the smells, feels and sparkle) that can only be found in-store.
Shopping becomes an experience on Regent Street and in St James’s. At Liberty London, polished counters manned by experienced professionals offer a chance to try before you buy; to sniff new scents and leave with the shade of lipstick that best complements your complexion. Neighbouring St James’s is where traditional tailoring and craftsmanship meets contemporary style. Visitors can browse designer menswear from the likes of Luca Faloni, Emma Willis and Harvie & Hudson, or pick up gifts from heritage brands such as Aspinal of London, Fortnum & Mason and Prestat chocolates.
A walk along the ‘mile of style’ that is Regent Street is a chance to admire its newly planted trees before paying a visit to the flagship stores of world-famous brands including Anthropologie, Burberry, Maje and Mulberry.
And a trip to Apple isn’t only an opportunity to finally get that glitch fixed on your phone or iPad; the Regent Street store is helping visitors upskill with a programme of workshops in coding, music, photography and more.
World-class galleries housing blockbuster exhibitions
Royal Academy of Arts, St James's
As culture vultures will know, St James’s plays home to some of the most esteemed galleries in the world – and this summer, they’re housing a slew of fresh and exciting exhibitions. At the Royal Academy, a melting pot of diverse works are currently on show, among them David Hockney’s vision of spring in Normandy as captured using his iPad. In another wing, visitors can gaze upon Michael Armitage’s vibrant paintings exploring Kenyan life. And in another, the soul-searching works of Tracey Emin hang side-by-side with those of her ‘fellow lost soul' and kindred spirit Edvard Munch.
Over at the White Cube on Mason’s Yard, the paintings and sculptures of French artist Julie Curtiss' first London exhibition are arresting reflections on the absurdities of everyday life. Meanwhile at the Institution of Contemporary Arts, War Inna Babylon: The Community’s Struggle examines the grassroots activism leading the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK.
Wining and dining
Ziggy Green, Heddon Street
Whatever time of day you visit, at some point you’ll need to refuel. Where you dine requires careful planning and advanced booking – leave the sandwich chains to the unorganised. Fortunately, Regent Street and St James's is in no short supply of kitchens pulsing with culinary expertise, flavours from around the world and an opportunity to experience star-worthy hospitality,
Breakfast or brunch could see you raise a super-charged smoothie or a Bloody Mary over a plate of kippers or kedgeree at destination brasserie 45 Jermyn St. While for lunch, why not sample the innovative farm-to-fork fodder of Jack Croft and Will Murray served at their Fallow pop-up at 10 Heddon Street?
Those in need of sustenance or cause for celebration between lunch and dinner will find both within the new afternoon tea menu at Fortnum & Mason – a luxurious affair which comes served in the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon. And if cocktails are your calling? Look to hip, Aussie-inspired Ziggy Green (and make ours a watermelon margarita).
By dinner, the choice is even greater, but in CW’s books, few dining rooms uncork the spirit of bottled celebration quite like Corbin & King’s French-inspired Brasserie Zédel. While at nearby Sabor, you can sample some of the best Spanish fare served in the city.
Pumping and pampering
Glow Bar, Regent Street
While better known for its shops, restaurants and galleries, the area is a hot spot for wellness too, offering a treasure trove of boutique fitness classes and next-gen beauty treatments that can’t be found outside of zone 1. Boost the endorphins with a top-of-the-range class at Psycle, Third Space or Barry’s Bootcamp – three of London’s best gyms and just a short walk from one another. Then treat yourself to a day-to-night glow-up at DryBy or de-stress with a pioneering holistic treatment at Glow Bar.