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The Globe and Mail

In London, visions of tea towels dance in your head

Tower Bridge in London.

Ron Chapple

"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life," goes the famous quote by one of the British capital's most famous historical residents, Samuel Johnson. Less well known are his next words: "For there is in London all that life can afford."

Indeed. If there is an experience or object that money can buy, more than likely it can be found in London - one of the world's oldest and most vibrant centres of culture and commerce. Whether it's a pet parrot from Harrods or a pair of eighties hipster frames from a vintage shop in Brick Lane, you will find it in London, a city as vast and sprawling as it is populous (more than 7.5 million at last count).

There are wonderful finds from Peckham to Picadilly, but London's true Christmas consumer destination is, of course, the vibrant and ever-crowded Oxford Street, where serious gift-hunters the world over come every year to be jostled by the crowds and captivated by the dazzling multistorey window displays.

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Riedel Amadeo decanter, $608

Take the stuffy out of being an oenophile with this clean, sensual decanter from the Wonder Room at Selfridges. 400 Oxford St.;

Nancy bag, $1,614

Samantha Cameron, wife of Prime Minister David Cameron, named this bag after her oldest daughter shortly after becoming creative director of Smythson, a venerable London label. 40 New Bond St.; 44-20-7629-8558;

Frerk Muller tea towels, $32 for two

No anglophile's kitchen is complete without a set of whimsical tea towels from Shelf. 40 Cheshire St.; 44-20-7739-9444;

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Yauatcha is a sleek modern tea house located on a cobbled lane in Soho. Its splashy cocktails and contemporary take on the classic Dim Sum experience have fashionable Londoners lining up for hours. They also make traditional French macaroons in a rainbow of non-traditional colours and flavours. 15-17 Broadwick Street, Soho; 44-20-7494-8888;


Dean Street Townhouse

Recently completed after years of renovation, this four storey Georgian townhouse located in the fillet of Soho is the latest addition to the exclusive Soho House group. The clubby vintage design gives the place a homey guest house feel and the prices aren't bad for London either. 69 - 71 Dean Street, 44-207-434-1775; rooms from $154 (£95);

Special to The Globe and Mail

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About the Author

Leah McLaren is a journalist, novelist and screenwriter. She’s published two novels, The Continuity Girl (2007) and A Better Man (2015) both with HarperCollins Canada and Hachette in the USA. The first was a Canadian bestseller, though the second is actually much better. More

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