Soho and the West End, London
DO avoid, the night clubs around Leicester square, they are for..tourists..
nothing wrong with being a tourist, but acting like one should be a criminal offense.
Cafe de Paris is another NO GO area, it's full of people with an attitude problem and the drinks are extremely expensive, dont expect a smile or a "thank you" in this place, it's just not on.
The first couple of hundred metres of this road are lined with the tackiest of hard-sell hi-fi and camera shops. Somebody I otherwise respect once compared it to an Arab souk, but that seems pretty far-fetched to me! I always feel I need a bath after going along here.
Unique Suggestions: Go the the north end, where there are good Indian restaurants nearby as well as Heal's famous furniture shop. Or the streets to the west for the pubs, cafés and Greek restaurants of the area known as 'Fitzrovia' (after Fitzroy Square).
This may have been the centre of swinging London in the 60's but it's nothing now. There are a few clothes and tacky souvenir shops and that's about it.
Unique Suggestions: Take a walk through as you go in between Oxford Street and Regent Street but don't expect too much.
Not where most Londoners would choose to shop. The exception is Selfridges. Surprisingly often, if there's something you need and can't find however hard you look, even in Harrods, Selfridges has it!
Fun Alternatives: Go a little way down Regent Street to Liberty's and gawp at the frocks you can't afford to even *think* about buying!
Or go to Kensington High Street.
Avoid Trafalgar Square around the New Year! We also heard the warnings from TV but we jumpped off on the wrong tube station and we found us.... Trafalgar Square. There wasn't anything happening, People just wanted to gather there and wait the midnight there. There was lots of Bobbies to calm the situation.
The heart of Swinging London in the the mid-sixties was Carnaby Street, a small lane behind Regent Street near Oxford Circus. The street became a center of the Youth movement in fashion and the arts. The most influential retailer there was John Stephen, who acquired his first boutique in 1963 and ended up owning ten shops in Carnaby Street with names like 'Male West One', 'Mod Male', 'His Clothes' and a similar number around other areas of the capital as well as at least two in Brighton. Other establishments included 'Lord John' (see picture)owned by Warren and David Gold and 'Lady Jane' owned by Harry Fox. Today, Carnaby Street is London's biggest tourist trap.
Be warned, if you visit London at Christmas time and try and walk down Oxford Street, you run the risk of being crushed. Policemen stand by the pedestrian crossings, especially around Selfridges, to make sure people don't get run over.
Oxford Street - Why do people feel they have to shop here just because they want English high street brands? London is full of borough high streets where you will find common brands like TopShop, record shops etc. anyway. Oxford Street is just a traffic congested inferno of shoppers bumping into each other, pick pockets and people trying to sell you fake perfume and leather goods.
Oxford Street - forget about it! Unless you enjoy shoulder-to-shoulder scrum down with yet more tourists, rip-off prices, tatty stores, hopeless shop assistants and pathetic street sellers. Don't do it!! If you want to see grand street architecture and grand shops, go to Regent Street (Liberty) and Knightsbridge (Harvey Nichols - fab restaurant on top floor and famous for its window displays).
I would not spend time wandering up and down Oxford Street, as many tourists seem to end up doing. There are lots of seriously tatty shops, pickpockets and scam artists can also be active. Try Regent Street and/or Bond Street instead, for up-market stores; or maybe take a day trip to one of the large shopping malls like Bluewater or Hays Galleria (loath as I am to recommend these places, they are a lot more pleasant if you want to do some serious shopping).
If you're in London with the intention of shopping, please steer away from the two main shopping streets Oxford street and Regent street. The prices are way higher there, and there are so many tourists that you can hardly breath. It's much wiser to go around on your own, in the smaller and more quiet streets. There are also a lot of big factory sales outside the city centre if you are that interested. Kensington Hi Street is a good advice for great shopping withouht too much people. Go to Covent Garden market early in the morning. Then you can go around almost by yourself. Later on the day, it's crowded!