Holiday Shopping Season is upon us, with the crowds, the lines, the stress. But what if there were guidebooks that made your shopping experience - dare I say it - enjoyable? I am happy to report that our 111 Shops Guidebooks will take you on retail adventures in four of the most exciting shopping cities in the world: London, Los Angeles, Milan, and New York City! Our 111 Places series started out as travel guides. However, we like to play around with possibilities, and we have extended the collection to include many different 111 things: shops, getaways, walks, coffee shops, and even Porsches!
So slip on your walking shoes and let us take you out for some retail therapy! Here are the111 Shops Guides, with a few of my favorite destinations:
London is a wonderful city of winding streets and hidden alleys filled with the kinds of shops we dream about when we watch Harry Potter movies. You can find the antique and the modern, the classic and the avant guard, the miniatures, the sweets, and so very much charm among these 111 shops.
Benjamin Pollock's Toy Shop inside Covent Garden Market sells paper toy theaters and other traditional toys. Kids can spend hours putting the miniature theaters together and letting their imaginations run wild with tiny productions.
J&B The Shop is the place to find gifts for the poets and artists on your list. The shop owners make all the things they sell, throwing in a touch of vintage here and there. Clothing, decor, jewelry, journals, paper products - so much to love in this shop.
St Martins Models can sell you a Lamborghini for 100 pounds. It will fit in the palm of your hand, but it will be the perfect gift for Lambo aficionados, and others mad for racing cars. Wonderful gifts for collectors (Jay Leno is a customer) or toy car lovers of any age. Delight them with Ferraris or an Aston Martins in their stockings.
We've all seen Pretty Woman. We know that shopping in LA can be glorious and glamourous. We also know that getting around town can be a major commitment because of the traffic. I love this guide because it takes you to 111 of the coolest stores, many of which you may have never even noticed before, in Santa Clarita, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, downtown LA and beyond.
Deus Ex Machina is an Australian lifestyle company that supplies motorcycle enthusiasts with everything they need. Of course their only US outpost is in Los Angeles, where riding is almost a requirement, what with all the sunshine and open roads (outside the city). If a custom bike is a bit out of your budget, then go for board shorts, goggles, and t-shirts, plus burgers on the grill on weekends.
Holy Grail is the place for the most coveted kicks in the world: new, rare, and limited edition sneakers, plus all kinds of special collaborations with Kobe, LeBron, and others. You name it; you can probably get it here for the sneakerheads in your life.
Strange Invisible Perfumes offers handcrafted perfumes made 100% from natural botanicals. You won't find industrial chemicals or celebrity endorsements here. Just heavenly, captivating scents. Try Black Rosette, Aquarian Rose, Musc Botanique, or any of these luscious blends.
Well, of course you come to Milan for the finest Italian fashion and design! But there is a whole world in Milan of small artisanal shops making and selling wonderful designs under names you'd never know. Many of the shops in this book have been around for decades, if not centuries, and they are filled with history and creativity.
Antik Arte e Scienza welcomes you into the store with old globes, mechanical planetary models, sundials, and other vintage science equipment. Shop here for the budding astronomer, biologist, pharmacist, or regular mad scientist on your list.
Pistacchio e Dintorni is the place to go for green diamonds. No, not emeralds -- pistachios! Pick them up in many forms: shelled, ground, caramelized, all borne from the Sicilian lava soil and sunshine. You can find creams, cookies, nougat, and even pistachio pasta in this lovely green shop.
Borghi has been making hats for over 60 years. Mr. Borghi has created headwear for celebrities, fashions shows, and even for Queen Elizabeth. The best gift idea would be to invite your intended to go to the store with you, enjoy the history together, and get fitted for matching custom toppers.
Fifth Avenue is fabulous for holiday shopping from top luxury brands in the world. But if you really want to give amazing gifts, go a little farther afield with this guidebook. Not only will you find wonderful and unique gifts for everyone on your list, you may just discover new treasures in parts of town you've never visited.
Economy Candy will bring even the most stubborn Scrooge back to happier, nostalgic times with candies and chocolates from past eras: Mary Janes, Pixie Sticks, Gold Nugget bubble gum. This store is floor to ceiling candies, so making selections for everyone on your list could prove to be dangerous for your own waistline!
John Derian Company was founded by a local artist in the East Village, who has since become a beloved international design brand. The rustic neighborhood boutique will draw you in with the incredibly charming decorative items featuring a limitless range of vintage images on trays, lamps, clocks and more.
Twig Terrariums is not a store for your grandma's kind of plants growing in jars. You will find a dizzying assortment of plants growing in jars, vats, water bottles, lab beakers, gumball machines, and more. The owners create vignettes using miniature figures, like a woman doing yoga, a prison escape, a drive-in movie. Give a ready-made terrarium, or give the gift of a terrarium-making class!
If you happen to find yourself in any of these magnificent cities any time of the year, I hope our books can help you find the best gifts and also take you on new adventures of discovery!
North American Editor-In-Chief
111 Places Guides for Locals and Experienced Travelers