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Run out of shampoo? Need a cheap raincoat? What about band-aids to save your feet after a day of walking? Or a UK blow drier because yours burned out (we told you!)? No fear – here are all the stops and shops you need to know.
Plan your meals and shop ahead and this will save you tons of money. The biggest supermarkets are Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrison. If you can, always go to the BIG shop as this has a better selection and much better pricing. Shopping last minute at Tesco Metro/Express and Local Sainsbury’s is much more expensive – even though it has the same branding as the big shop – so don’t be fooled!
Asda and Aldi are the cheapest supermarkets, but are sometimes a little bit out of town. Finally, don’t forget Iceland! It’s not just for frozen food and prices are up to 25% cheaper on some items, so always worth a look!
Waitrose and Marks and Spencer’s on the other hand, have super yummy food, but you’ll definitely pay extra for the quality.
Argos (argos.co.uk) is a great place to find low-cost bedding, towels, detergent, food containers, and everything else you are used to having in your house, but don’t want to pack in your suitcase. You won’t be looking for a big storefront though, Argos uses iPads to let you fill you shopping trolley. Then when you have chosen all your items, they will appear in store from and the back-of-store warehouse ready for you to take home! If you want to be sure that the item will be at your chosen store you can also reserve items and then go collect them which is really, really handy! Asda also has a big selection of basic homeware which you can buy in store, have delivered or click and collect. Finally, Primark (also a good place for clothes!-see below) has everything you need to make your home away form home with duvets (comforters), bed linens, sheets, towels, and even hangers. If you have a slightly bigger budget, BHS or John Lewis are two more places to look, especially if you prefer to look at the product before you actually buy it!
Primark, H&M, and TK Maxx are all great stores that keep up with trends and constantly have sales to get rid of their immense stock to make room for more! Primark is your perfect destination for fun, trendy ‘throw-away fashion’ – great if you need to pick up a jacket or a sundress to accommodate the temperamental British weather and don’t want to spend a fortune. H&M offer higher quality, fashion-forward looks and super trendy outfits that are fun to integrate into your wardrobe. If you have a little bit more money to spend Top Shop is a must. Their flagship store is on Oxford Street. Finally, Zara is a great store for the professional man and woman – with a variety of clothes from professional day-wear to casual weekend looks and hot, date-night threads. For men, T.M. Lewin is a great place to shop for everything business-casual and up. With great shirting and suit options and consistent sales, such as 4 shirts for $100, all of your professional clothing needs can be met here.
Brits don’t have Band-Aids (cause this is a brand name) But they do have “plasters”. Head back to Boots, Tesco or your local pharmacy (chemist) indicated by a green cross.
The first place to look is at Boots or Superdrug (the larger the shop the bigger the selection). You can find a whole range of high quality hair-styling products on the cheap is TK Maxx (UK version of TJ Maxx). Click here to find one nearest you. Argos is also a great place to find all that you need. They are all over London and offer the best “Click and Reserve” service – which means you look the product up online at home, and then reserve it and pick it up – and don’t have to pay for it until you get there (argos.co.uk)
Nails, Inc. is a London-based polish company that houses manicurists in some of London’s best department stores like House of Fraser and Harvey Nicols. Most of their in-store Nail Bars can do anything from a quick polish change to a full pedicure – and you get to hit some of the city’s best shopping streets while you’re at it. Find your nearest Nails, Inc Nail Bar here.
There are plenty of options for haircuts for both men and women all throughout London. Many places are unisex and others cater to either men or women. If you’re looking for one of the best cuts in London, the Borough Market is home to a handful of small barber shops that can fix you up. If you’re light on cash but still in need of a top-tier cut or color then you can book yourself as a model for an assistant stylist at many salons. Here’s a list of the best salons in London to get your hair cut for free or on the cheap!
Unless you’re coming to London from Ireland, Cyprus, Malta, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, or somewhere else in the United Kingdom, you are going to need to buy an adaptor to use electrical outlets in Britain. Here the plugs are considered type G, but the socket types vary greatly across Europe. if you are going to travel outside of UK you will likely need to pick up more adaptors. Your best bet is to buy a UK travel adaptor online (Amazon is your best bet) before you arrive, but if you neglect to do so travel adaptors can always be found at airports and train stations. If you can’t pick one up when you get off your plane or train, Argos has them as well.
Looking for over the counter remedies for your minor ailments you will need to visit the “chemist” (not the drug store/pharmacy) The most well known is Boots but there are lots of them about, all indicated by a green cross outside the shop. If you can’t find what you are looking or if you are confused by all the different names for the medicines, simply talk to the chemist. Tell them what your symptoms are and they will recommend the best medicine for you. You can also find most things at larger supermarkets like Tesco and Sainsbury’s (but you won’t get any advice here, so best to know what you are looking for). For essentials like ibuprofen, paracetamol, or cough drops (called cough sweets here), you can find these just about anywhere including newsagents, off licences and local shops.