Shopping is big business for the Spanish. In a recent survey by the web portal Tripadvisor, of the 730 Spaniards questioned, 42% described shopping as a passion, while a mere 10% thought of it as an obligation. Well over a quarter – 28% – admitted to having travelled at least once just to go shopping, and the British capital was top of their list of favourite destinations.
It's not surprising that people like shopping in London: there are so many different districts, most with their own speciality shops and individual style. There's Oxford Street - said to be the busiest shopping street in Europe and famous as the home of Selfridges and other big department stores. Close by, Bond Street offers the best in big-name designer clothing, and the elegant architecture of Regent Street conceals such gems such as Hamley's the world famous toy store, while Jermyn Street is famed for menswear and fine shirt-makers. There are shops with long pedigrees, such as the legendary Harrods of Knightsbridge as well as the more modern concept shops of Carnaby Street, the chic boutiques and cafes of Covent Garden, the independent stores along the King's Road, the markets of Camden Town...
With such choice, it's not surprising that 27% of the Spaniards surveyed labelled the British capital their "ideal city" and 42% commented on the city's variety. The Spanish capital, Madrid, lagged behind as “ideal” for only 18% and with only 17% mentioning the variety on offer, while the cosmopolitan city of Barcelona was even further behind, rating only 12% for each point.
As for the most fashionable cities, London also topped the list, with 27% of the votes, followed by Milan and Paris. The downside, however, is that the same three destinations were considered the most expensive, although in reverse order: Paris with 38% of the vote, Milan with 29%, and London the third most expensive with 13%. Despite its relative expensiveness, though, 35% – that's over a third – of those surveyed recommended London as the place to find the best winter deals.
Tripadvisor also asked where the friendliest shop assistants were to be found: in this case, the Spaniards' choice was closer to home with Madrid named by 29%, while Barcelona and Lisbon followed with 15 and 8 percent of the vote respectively. So, while you may find a bargain in London as you're finishing off your Christmas shopping, perhaps you shouldn't expect service with a smile.