Burlington Arcade, located in the heart of London’s Piccadilly, is a celebrated haven for those seeking a blend of luxury shopping and historic ambiance. Established in 1819, it stands as one of the oldest and most prestigious shopping arcades in the city.
What to Expect
As you step into the arcade, you are immediately transported into a world of elegance and refinement. The architecture, with its ornate details and grandeur, is a feast for the eyes. The glass roof provides a bright and airy atmosphere, making the shopping experience both pleasant and inviting.
The arcade is home to an array of high-end boutiques and shops offering a variety of goods, from bespoke tailoring and vintage watches to luxury jewelry and artisan chocolates. The quality of merchandise is exceptional, and the service is equally impressive, with shopkeepers who are knowledgeable and attentive.
Steep in Tradition and History
One of the most charming aspects of Burlington Arcade is its sense of tradition and history. It’s easy to feel connected to the past as you stroll through the arcade, which has retained much of its original character. The Beadles, the traditional uniformed guards, add to this sense of history, providing a unique and quaint touch.
The Beadles were originally hired as guards by Lord Cavendish’s regiment, and today they monitor the arcade as the oldest and smallest police force in Britain. Head Beadle, Mark Lord has unparalleled knowledge and offers arcade tours. He leads visitors on an exploratory journey transporting them right back to the arcade’s opening in 1819, originally commissioned by the Earl of Burlington to provide a safe place for his wife to shop.
On each tour, guests are immersed in the 200+ years’ worth of history, uncovering hidden gems of the arcade, such as the Victorian stoves in the basement and the secret underground passageway where shop boys would scurry with packaged goods for customers awaiting in their carriage, prohibited from carrying their purchases.
Why a visit to Burlington Arcade is a must before Christmas
Visiting Burlington Arcade in London before Christmas is an experience that encapsulates the magic and tradition of the festive season. Here are several reasons why it’s a must:
1. Festive Decorations and Atmosphere
During the Christmas season, Burlington Arcade transforms into a winter wonderland. The arcade is adorned with elegant Christmas decorations, twinkling lights, and sometimes, seasonal installations that add to the festive spirit. The stunning decor makes it a perfect backdrop for holiday photos.
2. Exclusive Shopping Experience
Known for its luxury boutiques and specialty stores, the arcade offers an array of unique and high-end gift options. From bespoke jewellery and watches to designer clothing and artisan chocolates, you can find exquisite gifts that are difficult to source elsewhere.
3. Historical Charm
The arcade, with its rich history dating back to the 19th century, provides a unique shopping experience that contrasts with modern malls. The traditional architecture and the presence of the Beadles in their historic uniforms add to the charm and make your visit memorable. Head Beadle, Mark Lord has this to say
‘When you walk through the arcade, you can actually feel the energy coming out of the shops. The building does have its own sort of spirit, its own sort of feel to it”
4. Limited Edition Products and Services
Many shops in the arcade often feature limited edition items or special services around Christmas. This could include exclusive product launches, personalised services, or special holiday-themed goods. Talking about personal service, there is even a shoe shining station to get your shoes shining like new before Christmas.
Shoe shine specialist Romi Topi has a very large circle of loyal and regular customers and has been creating a much-loved presence in the Arcade since 2006. Ranging from the high profile to professional man, Romi’s clients not only value the highly attentive yet discreet world-class service but the opportunity to take a calm break in the atmospheric setting of Burlington Arcade. Keeping the English shoe shining tradition going,
Romi has drawn from his unparalleled expertise to curate a shoe shine kit complete with the finest products – including brushes, polishes, Buffalo shoe horn and cloth. Tailored to the client’s shoe collection, the kit is housed in a leather bag embossed with the client’s initials, and doubles as a mat from where clients can follow step-by-step instructions on getting the perfect shine and making their footwear last a lifetime.
5. Festive Events and Activities
Burlington Arcade sometimes hosts festive events, carol singing, or special appearances, adding to the seasonal cheer. These events offer a delightful experience for visitors of all ages.
6. Central London Location
Its location in Piccadilly makes it an ideal stop during a day out in central London. Visitors can easily combine their trip to the arcade with other nearby festive attractions, such as the Christmas lights on Regent Street or the holiday markets.
7. Escape from the Bustle
Despite its central location, the arcade offers a more relaxed and intimate shopping experience compared to the often crowded streets and stores of London during the Christmas rush.
8. Culinary Delights
The arcade and its surroundings boast a variety of cafes and restaurants, offering a perfect spot to take a break from shopping and enjoy seasonal treats and warm beverages.
In terms of amenities, the arcade is well-maintained and clean. It’s not just a shopping destination; it’s a place to enjoy and soak in the atmosphere. The arcade is often less crowded than the surrounding streets, offering a more relaxed shopping experience.
The only downside might be the price range, as the shops in Burlington Arcade cater to a luxury market. However, even those not looking to make a purchase will find the arcade a delightful place to explore.
Burlington Arcade is not just a shopping destination but a cultural experience. Its blend of luxury, history, and architectural beauty makes it a must-visit location for anyone in London, whether for shopping or simply to enjoy a stroll through a piece of the city’s history.
Something to Take Home
One of the quirkiest and possibly smallest Maison Ladurée in London, the pastry shop is located next to Piccadilly entrance of Burlington Arcade. It offers exquisite French macarons with a large choice of flavours. Choose your favourites to build a gift box or your own treat box to take away and keep your experience a the Burlington Arcade alive for a little longer.
Address: 51 Piccadilly, London W1J 0QJ
Monday – Friday: 08:00 – 19:00
Saturday: 09:00 – 19:00
Sunday: 11:00 – 18:00