From lavish designer emporiums to rugged vintage market stalls – retail therapy comes in many different forms and is often be the main motivation for a short break away. We’ve picked out our top shopping city breaks that will be sure to give you that retail high and some insider tips to help spend you time…and money wisely-er!
Milan – Fashion sophistication
The Italian fashion hub, bursting with everything elegant. Does any other city compare when it comes down to style?
It’s designer heaven along the famous ‘Quadrilatero d’Oro’ (‘rectangle of gold’), numerous streets make up this lustful array of the best Italian designers – Prada, Fendi and Valentino just to name a few, where you can blow your budget and beyond. The impressive array of designers and lavish window displays are well worth a gaze, even if your wallet won’t quite stretch to buy anything.
Not to be missed when in shopping in Milan is the flagship Armani flagship superstore bursting with all of their famous high fashion lines to home furnishings to a flower boutique. If your arms are aching or the other half needs a rest then it also has it’s own café with great reviews from Trip Advisor and New York’s famous Nobu Sushi restaurant.
If you are looking for more of a bargain then you’ll need to head just outside Milan to the Fidenza Village. This impressive outlet houses brands such as Michael Kors, Versace and Paul Smith alongside some great restaurants and cafés. A luxury shopping express bus will take you here from Milan in around an hour and a half, you can purchase tickets from their website here.
After all that retail therapy the best way to unwind is at a tranquil spa. The Boscolo Exedra Hotel situated in the city centre has one of the largest spa and well-being areas in Milan. From relaxing massages to aroma facials it’s the ideal spot to revitalise yourself before dinner later on or another day of shopping!
New York – Melt your plastic
For anything cool, new and all out large head to New York. From their sophisticated Madison Avenue to the boutique inspired Soho region, New York has a vast expanse of differing shopping experiences to choose from.
You could spend all day in just one of the big name department stores (Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s and Barneys to name a few). My ultimate favourite from my trip last November has to be Saks Fifth Avenue, with ten floors of high end designer goodies to get your teeth into! From the likes of Louis Vuitton to Ralph Lauren and the most wanted of the moment – 3.1 Phillip Lim, it houses a great collection of brands for all fashion tastes.
A must visit when shopping in New York is the Soho region, bursting with ‘everything cool and everyone cool’, even if it’s for a spot of people watching and window shopping this is very much happening part of town. From brands like Chanel, Moncler, Topshop and Balenciaga you really are spoilt for choice whatever your budget.
Fancy a bargain? Well look no further New York has an H&M on every shopping corner (or thereabouts), great for that last minute cheap buy. But if you fancy something that you can’t pick up back home try out some of New York’s Sample Sales – which is essentially last season’s designer merchandise offered at a fraction of the price. These happen throughout the year and pop up in differing locations offering all types of luxuries just waiting to be snapped up. Check NY Racked to find out the latest Sample Sale locations and dates.
The major departments stores and larger outlets are all often open late till around 8pm – great for squeezing in that last minute purchase before heading back to the hotel to get ready for dinner!
Istanbul – Cultural chic
From traditional to luxurious, Istanbul creates an exciting mix of new and old when it comes to shopping.
To explore cultural retail in Istanbul, a must see is the famous Grand Bazaar (covered market) with over 4,000 shops/markets bursting with colour showcasing beautiful fabrics, intricate jewellery, mouth-watering street food, painted ceramics, handmade rugs and many unusual gifts – this certainly is the best way to see Istanbul’s rich culture. If anything takes your fancy you can also try your hand at some bartering to snap yourself up a bargain!
If you’re more of a fashionista seeking out some designer chic then head straight to the region of Nisantasi for your Bond Street like shopping. Alongside the likes of Louis Vuitton and Cartier lie some worthy Turkish designer brands like Hakaan and Arzu Kaprol.
Istanbul has several large shopping malls which sell just about everything from the fashion stopper high street brands to tasty dishes from Wagamama, some even have a golf cart service to help you carry all your purchases! One of the best and newest is Istinye Park offering famous brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Dior, Prada, Celine, Zara, M.A.C. and Sephora alongside an IMAX cinema and 40 restaurants.
If you’re a department store lover then you’ll lavish in the chance to spend several hours in Beymen (Istinye Park, Istinye Bayırı Caddesi) where you’ll be lost in the beautiful surroundings and endless brands. Or take a visit to their sister store – Beymen Blender for a much smaller more boutique feel.
To keep you fuelled up while shopping, try a strong Turkish coffee and a Baklava (traditional sweet dessert) to keep you going. Dubed as one of the best around for its Baklava is Karakoy Gulluoglu (Mumhane Cad. No:171 Karakoy) with many raving reviews for their special chocolate flavour.