Shopping at all stations: The best retail experiences by train

Tuesday, 20 November 2018
Your journey

Whether you’re a designer devotee or a vintage aficionado, your next shopping adventure starts with a train journey.

Shopping in the city

When the delights of your local high street just aren’t cutting it any more, and online baskets aren’t providing the buzz they once did, it might be time to seek out some new retail therapy farther afield. Thankfully, the UK has some of the most exciting and diverse shopping experiences in the world, and we don’t just mean dodging the crowds on Oxford Street. By jumping on a London Northwestern Railway train, you can easily access the country’s shopping hotspots, from Liverpool to London, whether it’s for a day trip or one long credit-card-crunching tour.

And the best part about it? The money and stress you save on travelling by rail, avoiding costly parking and weekend traffic, means that you’ll be much less likely to succumb to any post-purchase guilt. Oh, and because you’re not driving you’ll be able to enjoy a glass of wine or two at lunch while you’re at it.

London

Shopping in Dover Street

Dover Street Market

The concept store opened by Japanese Comme des Garcons designer Rei Kawakubo in 2006 is still a temple to all things aesthetically pleasing. Each brand is invited to design – and regularly redesign – their own space, making DSM more like an art gallery than a shopping mall. Whether you’re after some limited edition Vans, a tube of Buly 1803 handcream, or are just up for gazing at the incredible window displays, Dover Street Market is a one-off shopping stop of joy

Coal Drops Yard

In the 1850s, Coal Drops Yard was used to store the fuel that powered all of London, in the 1990s it was the site of legendary clubs such as Bagleys and The Cross, and now it’s the city’s latest shopping district, with more than 50 carefully curated brands, from Cubitts to Cos, under a Thomas Heatherwick-designed roof. Make sure you check out the LA concept store Twiin, which beams out glowing, sunlight-mimicking rays, and Bodega, the food and homeware shop from Rita’s founder Missy Flynn.

Redchurch Street

After you’ve shimmied around the shipping containers-turned-shops at Boxpark, Shoreditch, cross the road for a saunter down Redchurch Street. Inhale the deliciously decadent scents at Le Labo and Aesop, pick up the perfect white T-shirt at Sunspel, and then head to Modern Society for two things you’re guaranteed to find in east London – great clothes and great coffee.

Birmingham

Shopping at The Bullring

Bullring

The site of the city’s main marketplace since the middle ages – and a former bull-baiting arena (hence the name) – the Bullring shopping Centre might no longer be the place to barter, but it is the epicentre of Birmingham’s shopping life, with more than 200 stores and 2,000 brands. There’s fashion, from All Saints to Zara, a soft play area to park the kids, and a bobbly aluminium Selfridges building designed to look like a 1960s Paco Rabanne chainmail dress. Make sure you get a photo with Brummie the bull – the angry-looking taurine sculpture guarding the entrance – before you leave.

Link Street

Connecting the Bullring and Grand Central – Birmingham’s other major shopping centre – is Link Street. Dubbed “Birmingham’s answer to Carnaby Street”, it’s full of independent shops, alternative boutiques and constantly changing pop-ups, such as quirky shoe shop Irregular Choice, Midlands-based menswear designer Luke, and homeware store Vincent Van Doodle. Heading back inside Grand Central – which is situated above New Street station – you’ll find a sizeable John Lewis and hundreds of other top retailers and speciality stores.

The Mailbox

This former Royal Mail sorting office is now home to designer boutiques such as Paul Smith, Hugo Boss and Calvin Klein. It’s also got a Harvey Nichols hiding behind its postbox-red exterior, complete with food hall and beauty rooms. Plus, the location right by the canal makes it a great place to hang out even if you’re just window shopping, or catching a film at the Everyman.

Liverpool

Shopping destinations via train

Bold Street


This cobbled strip regularly gets voted one of the top shopping streets in the country. Selling everything from street food to records to shoes, it’s an ever-changing smorgasbord of shopping delights. Don’t miss the quirky bookstore (and Liverpool institution) News from Nowhere and vintage shops Resurrected and Pop, then check out Utility for Scandi furniture and necklaces with unicorns on. Because who doesn’t need another one of those?

Liverpool One

The city’s main shopping and eating artery, Liverpool One is a pedestrian-only zone of more big brands than you can shake a credit card at. From high-street to high-end, every shopping need is catered for, and some of Liverpool’s best bars and restaurants have sprouted up here too. Designer boutique Cricket is the place to pick up a dress for a night on the town or a day at Aintree, and the UK’s only Harvey Nichols Beauty Bazaar is three floors of make-up heaven.

Lark Lane

To the south of the city, right by Sefton Park, bunting-strewn Lark Lane is the place to head for boho boutiques, art galleries and vintage stores. Fantasise about owning the retro funfair rides in antiques warehouse Gasp, browse the hundreds of frames and prints in Phil’s Picture Palace, or pick up some new vintage threads in Larks. Then reward yourself with an afternoon tea at Tea House. Shopping is thirsty work, after all.

Travel to any of these shopping destinations with London Northwestern Railway. For the best value tickets, with no booking fee.

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