How To Survive Christmas Shopping… in Covent Garden
From the market piazza to the streets of Seven Dials, Covent Garden is one of London’s prettiest quarters. At least, it is when you’re not Christmas shopping.
As the big day looms large and the area’s pavements become filled with stressed-out shoppers and too many tourists, not even its twinkling Christmas tree can save its charm.
But all is not lost. If you know the right places to stop off, fill up and chill out, Covent Garden can be one of the best places to buy your gifts – just don’t linger for too long near the silver statues.
Here’s where to stop when you shop…
It’s early, you’re tired and you have a list longer than Santa’s. A morning morale boost is the only thing for it, and we’re not sure you could do that any better than with a bacon naan and a cup of chai from Dishoom on St Martin’s Lane. If you have to queue for a short while, it’s worth it – this is a breakfast classic for a reason and it will set you up for the day. Like yoga for the hungry.
An angel in waiting
It’s mid-morning and it’s amazing how quickly boutiques get boring (and naans digest). But don’t flag yet; you’re just getting started. Give yourself a lift with a sugar fix at diminutive but delicious Jacob the Angel, from the team behind The Palomar and The Barbary. It’s not just any old cakes that they serve here, but the likes of pumpkin-spiced crumble muffins and tahini madeleines. Helpfully, the coffee also hits the spot.
Lunchtime is calling, but you want to push through and tick a little more off your list first. Give yourself a boost with a fresh smoothie from uber-healthy 26 Grains. And just on the off chance your festive spirit is particularly well-suppressed, they do also make a mean Bloody Mary.
By now you’ve been in the piazza, tripped over a mime artist and had to pop into the Apple Store to charge your phone in anticipation of some online ordering on the hop. It’s time for a break. But you can’t be too long, of course. Tapas is the perfect way to top up without clocking off. Head to Encant on Maiden Lane and enjoy the likes of fried oysters and grilled lamb chops along with the Spanish staples. Don’t be tempted to linger too long, mind.
You’ve made it to mid-afternoon, you’ve got a fair portion of the family ticked off, and you’re on a roll. Albeit a slightly reluctant one. Well done, you’ve won wine. Nip to Terroirs, close to the Strand, for a glass of something natural, French and fabulous. Just the one, mind.
You haven’t got long to go, but don’t give up yet – you still need to make a visit to Forbidden Planet for that guy who really likes Superman and find something arty for Sue. Head to Homeslice and grab a slice of salami, rocket and parmesan pizza to go. That’ll beat the smoothie.
A quick jar
You’re nearly up, but late-night shopping means there’s no excuse to call it a day just yet. Slug a quick brew from Craft Beer Co. on Endell Street – there’s nothing like a hoppy beer to help you over the festive finish line.
And you’re done. You’ve either got everyone’s gifts sorted or you’ve got as close as you’re going to get. Retreat into the Chick‘n’Sours basement and eat away the day through the medium of fried chicken and sour cocktails. The portions are big, so maybe those left without a gift could share the doggy bag?