Capital idea for Christmas shoppingBy Phil Creighton
December 06, 2011
How are you getting on with your Christmas shopping? I know, Uncle Fred is always the difficult one to buy for and as for those two 10-year-olds – well, one is into Barbie, the other into barbecues, and heaven forbid you get them mixed up.
Let’s face it, present hunting can be a difficult job, even when Reading boasts a splendid selection of some of the best names on the high street.
But there’s still something to be said for getting to London and mooching down Oxford Street, visiting the flagship stores for many big names … and visiting some stores that we just don’t have, such as Selfridges.
The mile-long stretch of retail therapy means you can shop till you drop, but what happens when you're laden with bags and just need a bit of a breather?
With Reading so close to London, we don’t really think about staying overnight but if you want to make the most of your shopping expedition, it makes sense to be able to book into a hotel, shop, shop, shop and then freshen up before enjoying a night on the town. And few hotels can boast such a proximity to Oxford Street as the four-star Radisson Edwardian Berkshire Hotel which is based on Oxford Street itself.
Situated just off Bond Street station, you’re right next to all the shopping action you can muster, including Debenhams and The Disney Store, which are both right on your doorstep. Also nearby are Selfridges, Tiffany, Armani, Fenwick’s and Topshop.
The House of Mouse was a great place to take my young daughter, who came with me on this vital shopping mission: she enjoyed playing with some of the many toys and did some colouring in while daddy helped Santa out with a couple of presents from her Christmas list.
Of course, there’s more to London than just shopping and our visit started with some typical touristy things: Sarah Jane had long expressed a desire to go on the big wheel (London Eye in plain English). Being a toddler, she told me – and, to my embarrassment, everyone else in our capsule – that she thought it was “disgusting”.
Thankfully, she didn’t mean it and wants a return visit.
She was also delighted that she could see the Eye from our hotel room.
The Radisson is a swish hotel that has been ergonomically designed, leaving plenty of space for those shopping bags. Each of the 147 rooms in the hotel – which range from incredibly compact to suites – has been tastefully decorated and includes a luxurious bathroom.
A posh telly and wifi are included, although a second room light isn’t. This won’t be much of a problem for most guests but my toddler went to bed a couple of hours before I did, and I could only read using the bathroom light.
For dining, the hotel boasts the splendid wood-panelled Ascot’s Bar and Restaurant, which serves a selection of seasonal British food from a daily changing menu. A full a la carte menu is available including dishes such as seared ocean perch, parsnip pureee, wilted spinach and hazelnut brown butter (£18). A three-course meal is currently available for £25 or £36.40 including a half bottle of wine. Ascot’s is open from Monday to Saturday.
There is also the Apex Bar, which is a more relaxed affair and open to the public every day.
The bistro-cum-bar offers afternoon tea for £15, so even if you don’t stay in London this could help restore your shopping prowess.
As we stayed on a Sunday, we dined in Apex while trying the Ascot’s menu which had been specially prepared for us. The food was carefully cooked and the portions are big. The service was a little unattentive and it took three attempts to get a drink that my fussy toddler liked (bits in orange juice? Not when you’re four).
Breakfast, served in Ascots, is a mixture of a serve-yourself full English buffet with waiter service for drinks and toast. Again, service was a little unattentive – I eventually had to ask for refreshments – but once seen to, it was exceptionally friendly with staff going out of their way to make fussy toddler a hot chocolate that wasn’t too hot, wasn’t too cold, but just right.
The hotel also boasts impressive conference rooms with great views of the London skyline.
There are also business centre services and the nearest car park, should you want to brave the congestion charge, is just round the corner in Welbeck Street.
With the Radisson being on Oxford Street’s doorstep, carrying the Berkshire moniker and being easy to get to, it makes it an ideal place to book for your Christmas shopping.
Or, come to think of it, if you want to make your January sale shopping even more fun.