London’s Carnaby Street

Carnaby Street London pedestrian street

Carnaby Street is a London street where residents go to store, dine in a restaurant or have a cocktail at a bar with friends.

Attractions of Carnaby Street

When you get to the street, you’ll be greeted by the world-famous symbolic arch (and it’s a great place for photos). Behind it is a plethora of different stores selling everything from shoes, vintage clothing to vinyls, cosmetics and other interesting things.

A must for any first-time visitor to Carnaby Street is a stroll through Kingil Court, which boasts three floors of various concept stores surrounding the courtyard. In recent years, Kingil Court has become a mecca for foodies, as it is home to many different restaurants where chefs test their unique recipes on hungry customers.

The Newberg Quarter is also worth a visit. It boasts over 30 different independent stores and boutiques like Mark Powell, Peckham Rye, Evisu, Levi’s Vintage, Laurel Wreath by Fred Perry and many more. Nearby you’ll also find Liberty Department Store (founded 1875) and boutiques of other famous fashion brands like Pepe Jeans, Diesel, Replay, Puma and Levi’s.

Today only a few of the original stores remain, dating back to the swinging sixties. What remains are Sherry’s (on Broadwick Street), Lambretta (at 29 Carnaby Street) and The Face (1 Marlborough Court). They sell many original clothing items.

If you enjoy shopping for old vinyl, then you’ll find plenty of records at Deal Real or Phonica. If you have extra time, check out the Shakespeare’s Head establishment, which was owned by distant relatives of William Shakespeare in the 1700s.

Special Tips

Although many of the original Carnaby Street houses have been rebuilt, you can still see a few at 17 Newberg Street, 10-12 Ganton Street and 7-8 Kingley Street.

Don’t forget to stroll down the little side alleys. There are many high-end boutiques and trendy stores hidden from the main pedestrian area of Carnaby Street.

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If you’re a hardcore Beatles fan, 3 Savile Row’s spot (where their historic rooftop performance took place) is just a six-minute walk away.

Prices and hours of operation.

The restaurants, stores, and bars on Carnaby Street tend to be quite expensive. This is the price you have to pay in a store for a fancy item or to dine in one of London’s most fashionable neighborhoods!

Of course, each store and/or restaurant offers different prices, so expect to pay a pretty hefty sum if you want to buy a unique, one-of-a-kind item in an independent boutique (or sample a chef’s meal). You can find more reasonable prices at larger outlets.

Most stores on Carnaby Street are open seven days a week:

  • 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday
  • 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays
  • 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Restaurants tend to be longer, but it’s best to check the official website of your chosen establishment in advance.

How to get there

Address: Carnaby Street, Soho, London, UK.

Metro. The nearest stations are Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus. They are about a three-minute walk away.

By bus. If you take the bus, you can get to Carnaby Street on routes 3, 6, 12, 13, 15, 23, 88, 94, 139, 159 and 453 (to Regent Street) and 7, 8, 10, 25, 55, 73, 98, 176 and 390 (to Oxford Street).

By train. The nearest station is Charing Cross, which is a 17-minute walk.

By car. If you’re traveling by car, keep in mind that Carnaby Street is a pedestrian street, so you’ll have to park your car on Brewer Street, Whitcomb Street, Berners Street, or the NCP parking lot in Grosvenor Hill.

Hotels and hotels nearby

Like the rest of SoHo, staying near Carnaby Street is incredibly expensive, especially during the summer and Christmas vacations. If you’re looking for lodging during quieter periods of the year, you’ll get a big discount on lodging.

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The hotels closest to the street are the Courthouse Hotel (No. 5, Maddox Street) and the Sanctum Soho Hotel. All are in high demand by travelers looking to save money, especially during the busy periods of the year.

Westbury Mayfair is also close to Carnaby Street (at Bond Street), and The Nadler and The Soho hotels are just a couple of minutes away and remain some of the most popular in the Soho area.

Carnaby Street – shopping and high fashion territory

Carnaby Street - shopping and high fashion territory

Carnaby Street is a pedestrian shopping street in London, located in Soho, parallel to Regent Street to the east of the latter.

History of Carnaby Street

The first buildings and the first tenants

The name of the street comes from Carnaby House, a large building on the east side of the street erected in 1683 by Richard Tyler. The street itself is believed to have been laid out in 1865-66. It was almost entirely built up with small houses by 1890, although there were also many stables and riding arenas. One of the most notable residents of the street at the time were the Huguenots, French Protestants, who were allowed to live there free of charge. Later, from 1700 to 1721, one of the houses on the street was occupied by a charitable girls’ school, which was then relocated to Boyle Street.

The 18th and 19th centuries. New changes.

All of these first buildings on Carnaby Street were reconstructed in 1720, when Richard Tyler’s lease of the area ended and the entire property came under the ownership of William Lowndes. Significant changes were made to the structure of the entire street. Despite all the improvements, Carnaby Street did not gain fashionable status.

The 18th-century occupants of the street were unremarkable. And in the 19th century, nearly all of the buildings on Carnaby Street were occupied by commercial establishments. A significant number of alterations were made in 1820-25, when Carnaby Market was closed. Most of the buildings were reconstructed by architect Thomas Feinden.

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The heyday of Carnaby Street.

In the late ’50s of the 20th century, Carnaby Street was still a far cry from the trendy downtown. But things began to change dramatically. For example, the men’s fashion store His Clothes was opened by John Stephen in 1957 on Beech Street, a street perpendicular to Carnaby Street. Two years later, the store suffered a fire. After the accident, the store was moved to Carnaby Street (where it became the first), and interest in it grew tremendously. Its owner, John Stephen, within a few years had a chain of boutiques all over London.

In the 1960s, Carnaby Street became the heart of Swinging London. The term “swinging” at that time implied a desire for the new and modern. And this phenomenon was acquiring a significant scope in different spheres of life: music, fashion, cinema, television, literature. It was here, on Carnaby Street, fashion trends were born, the number of fashion stores was growing and new toiletries and outfits were appearing. By the way the first miniskirts which were created by British fashion designer Mary Count was only available in Carnaby Street.

Carnaby Street became a hangout place for such subcultures as fashion and hippies. The world-famous musical groups that could be seen here included The Beatles, The Who, and The Rolling stones.

Decline and Rebirth

However, Carnaby Street’s time as a fashion center was fleeting. In 80s Britain was swept up by a wave of punk culture and young people stopped being inspired by 70s trends which seriously damaged the significance of Carnaby Street as a center of fashion. But thankfully in the 90s a number of influential companies made substantial infusions into the development of the street and Carnaby Street acquired a new life.

Today Carnaby Street serves more as a tourist attraction, but is still a great place for fashionable shopping. Stephen’s is no longer there, but there are plenty of other stores that are filled with ’60s spirit.

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What to visit on Carnaby Street

The commercial part of Carnaby Street includes a number of adjacent streets and alleys. On Ganton Street you’ll find Sherry’s, which opened in 1979 during the first wave of the fashion subculture revival. Here you can buy fitted pants, a tight suit, a tight tie, a paisley shirt, or any other piece of clothing from the ’60s.

Another store that sells fashion clothing is Merc. Founded in 1967, Merc has its own retail label and a wide selection of fashion subculture clothing. Similar in style, the Lambretta store is just north on the other side of the street.

The original Ben Sherman is a national brand. His store on Carnaby Street is simply unique. It is rightly considered the flagship of the fashion subculture. Nowhere else in England will you find a store where you can dress fashion from head to toe.

For men following current trends in fashion, there’s a Hugo Boss store on Carnaby Street. And for women trying to find something fresh and fun for their wardrobe, you’ll find a lot to do at Irregular choice. If you are a soccer fan, you should visit Soccer scene. Here you can buy soccer equipment, including official uniforms of almost any European club or national team.

Tourist Information

Carnaby Street can be reached by tube or bus. The nearest tube station is Oxford Circus (Transport Zone 1). There are 10 transport zones in total and the fare depends on how many zones you cross (1.5 to 6 GBP).

To get to Carnaby Street by bus, you can go to three stops, all located on Regent Street: Oxford Circus (route C2), Conduit Street Hamles (Stop T) (routes 3, 12, 88, 94, 159, 453, N3, N109, N136), Conduit Street Hamles (Stop V) (routes 6, 13, 15, 23, 139, N13, N15, N18, N113).

The price of bus ticket is 1.5 GBP. For public transport it is better to pay with an Oyster card, which gives a significant discount.

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