Hot on the Highstreet Week 248 – Shopping in Antwerp

Antwerp is the fashion capital of Belgium and I found many blog worthy design shops while I was visiting. The city is compact and so it is easy to walk around and see most things in a day. We particularly enjoyed the antiques ridden street Kloosterstraat, head here for a endless array of rare vintage finds. Those who prefer something new and shiny will be satisfied with the glamorous jewellery and designer clothes shops. Here are my top boutiques in the city worth heading to first.

The Recollection – a beautifully curated lifestyle concept store stocking Aesop toiletries, Kaweco stationery, Piet van Eek furniture and other stylish objects of desire.

Huis Boon – Established in 1884 this gorgeous little glove shop has been an institution since opening. Boxes line the walls, filled with every colour of glove you could every wish for. I fell in love with a pair of cashmere lined emerald gloves. For something more delicate Huis Boon also make gloves in other finer materials, like lace.

Domestic – this minimalist bakery creates the most delicious croissants I have ever tasted. This boulangerie was opened by Julien Burlat and Sophie Verbeke, who also own two of the city’s most prestigious restaurants, Dôme and Dôme Sur Mer. Hotel Julien serve Domestic pastries at breakfast, and it is reason alone to stay!

Hay – this is one of the flagship stores of the successful Danish design brand. The colourful products for desk and home are irresistibly chic, especially when displayed all together.

Goossens Chocolatier – this unassuming chocolate shop is not found in the centre of town but it is worth visiting for their renowned, top-quality chocolates. They are a favourite with royals and presidents around the world, and most excitingly supply the chocolate for the White House.

Loft Styles – we found this shop amongst the antique outlets on Kloosterstraat, though Loft Styles felt special. The retro furniture and ornaments are mostly industrial in style, exhibited in an effective way and priced reasonably. If only I lived closer I would have bought something from the unique collection.

Woontheater – everyone I spoke to recommended this shop, and I can reiterate… it is serious vintage furniture heaven. What amazed me most was the way this shop makes old vintage furniture look contemporary and cool.

Wunderkammer – a shop of beautiful curiosities to decorate your home with. A lot of things you don’t need, but really, really want.

Hot on the Highstreet Week 236

Merchant Archive has been around for several years, but has recently been in the press for the new in house collection. Seen in Vogue shoots, at the catwalk shows, and on the sassiest style blogs the chic clothes and glamorous home-ware found at Merchant Archive are irresistible.

Located in Notting Hill, nearby to Portobello, this shop is the go to for carefully curated designer bits and bobs. Owner Sophie Merchant has a passion for vintage finds and an eye for the unusual. Her shop has gradually grown and now, alongside the unique vintage items she showcases her own collection of tailored clothes, jewellery, candles and cups. The shop is a marriage of art and fashion with beautiful things everywhere you look.

When I popped into the shop last weekend I loved the iconic silver, gold and copper coloured pineapples, lovely as a coffee table ornament but also useful as candle holders or a place for keepsakes. Pineapples are a symbol of friendship so ideal as a gift for a lucky pal! The candles also make lovely presents, available in three fragrant scents. The clothes are all beautiful, contemporary fashion with a old-fashioned elegance, I particularly liked the Pierrot Knit jumpers with a striking white collar.

To celebrate the festive season Merchant Archive are offering 25% off all in store and online sales until midnight tonight. Perfect for extra special Christmas presents.

Browse the website here.

Hot on the Highstreet Week 219: Shopping in Barcelona

There is so much to eat and see in Barcelona it is difficult to fit in time for shopping, but if you do manage a little retail therapy on your trip here are a few tips to finding the most interesting and unique holiday purchases and gifts.

Colmado Quilmez – dating back to 1908 this old-school grocery has a spectacular range of local and international food and drink products. Make sure you check out the unrivalled selection of bottled waters, there are over 200 brands to choose from!

Les Topettes – a dinky, daintily designed shop with a range of lovely perfume brands from around the globe, beautifully packaged soaps and scented candles. I particularly loved the fragrances from Madrid-based perfume house Oliver & Co.

Chandal – Can I please live here? I loved it all…  a fabulous retro concept store stocking retro stationery, books, cameras, toys, t-shirts and much more. A whole load of things you don’t need, but desperately want.

Fantastik – this mad and magical shop stocks imported items from around the world. Here you can buy brilliantly kitsch décor to add some character and colour to your home… Chinese thermos flasks, Mexican virgins, plastic pandas from Japanese and photos of Indian hairstyles from the 70s.

Vincon – an expansive design emporium on the main street Passeig de Gracia Vincon spans two floors and holds a huge collection of aesthetically pleasing furniture and homeware. At the back the small gallery Sala Vincon showcases intriguing exhibitions.

Oriol Balaguer – where chocolate and design meet. Oriol Balaguer is an award-winning chocolatier and he is renowned in Spain. In his bijou Barcelona store in Barrio Alto presents the fine sweets, pastries, cakes and mousses in a beautifully decadent way. Go along in the morning for an indulgent pain au chocolat.

Holala! – this is vintage heaven, with a handpicked selection of vintage clothes and furniture from USA, Japan and EU. Pick up a second-hand Ralph Lauren shirt, neon sports shorts or a retro pinafore to add to your wardrobe.