Brompton Design District

This is the new hip tag for South Kensington, SW3, which boasts a clutch of chic specialist home stores
The Conran Shop
The Conran Shop in the Michelin Building, with its extravagant tiles, mosaic and glass
The Conran Shop, for example, is five minutes' walk from South Kensington Tube station. For more than 30 years, this substantial store has championed the very best in domestic design, moving into the Michelin Building with its extravagant tiles, mosaic and glass in 1987.

Creative director Polly Dickens regularly goes on regular global shopping trips, bringing back exclusive eclectic treasures from fine Indian handiwork to high Italian design. Sir Terence himself underpins the whole operation with inimitable flair. The range is huge, from homely houseware to sophisticated sofas, plus curtains, blinds, rugs and furniture made to order - and giftwrapping in distinctive paper is free. The Conran Shop, 81 Fulham Road (

Bibendum restaurant ( serves fine French food on the first floor, with the famous Oyster Bar below. A charming café is in the courtyard, where there is also an inspirational florist.

Dala horse at Skandium
Skandium is London's favourite outpost for Danish, Finnish and Swedish design

European flavour

Meanwhile, new kid on the block is a huge sleek second branch of Skandium, London's favourite outpost for Danish, Finnish and Swedish design. Top Scandinavian brands have generous shop-in-shops, with a section also for European modern classics. Skandium, 247 Brompton Road (

Pop round the corner to Townhouse DK at 20 Egerton Garden Mews ( to find an intimate remodelled mews house kitted out with Danish design (until 30 December).

By contrast, a vast former car showroom was given a modernist makeover in 2001 to become the UK flagship store for big Italian brand B&B Italia, and filled with lavish sofa systems by design superstars alongside kitchens by Boffi. B&B Italia, 250 Brompton Road (

Smallbone, on the other hand, is pre-eminently a British brand, with swish adjacent showrooms for deluxe bespoke fitted kitchens and sexy bedrooms handmade in the finest of materials - drool over walnut, pewter and shagreen. Smallbone, 220 Brompton Road (

Or go for a cool German "kuche" with high-grade units and appliances from Siematic (10 Thurloe Place; or Baulthaup (2 North Terrace;

Divertimenti kitchenware
Divertimenti is nirvana for novice cook or pro

Homeware paradise

To fill kitchens new or old, all the essential kit can be found at Divertimenti (227-229 Brompton Road; This is nirvana for novice cook or pro, with more than 5,000 speciality items from practical copper sauté pans and chef's knives to stylish espresso-makers and hand-decorated French porcelain; plus regular classes so you can soup up your culinary skills.

Along the road is a huge selection of china at The Reject China Shop (183 Brompton Road). Then there is West One Bathrooms at 9a Thurloe Place ( for luxurious ideas on tap. Marvellous Italian mosaics are at Bisazza's only UK showroom, laid out like an art gallery with international design ideas. Staff are trained to design mosaics for any space. Bisazza, 60 Sloane Avenue (

Nearby is more art at Rabih Hage, which sells limited-edition lights, furniture and other artifacts. Rabih Hage, 69-71 Sloane Avenue ( In the same street is OKA with its chic ethnic furniture update, mixed in with pretty fabrics, lamps, accessories and comfy seating - as well as free coffee, cookies and newspapers on a Saturday, OKA, 60 Sloane Avenue (

Andrew Martin's exotic emporium
Elaborate furniture and fabrics at Andrew Martin

Walton Street

Charming little Walton Street is in itself a design destination, being crammed with interiors stores and boutiques such as Andrew Martin's exotic emporium for elaborate furniture and inspiring fabrics (

You can also visit Dragons, for painted children's furniture (; Walton Ceramics for tiles (; and Chelsea Textiles, for beautifully recreated archive fabrics ( Society decorator Nina Campbell has her own take on gifts and home accessories, with elegance assured (

Walton Street will hold upmarket Christmas celebrations on 2 December, with carol singers, a friendly Father Christmas, real reindeer and street entertainers.

Round the corner, The Aga Shop offers a warm welcome at 5 Beauchamp Place (

Father Christmas and child
Christmas celebrations on Walton Street

Museum stop

Take time off from shopping to dip into one of several world-famous museums, which also have excellent cafés and, of course, their own shops for original gifts and home accessories. For example, there is the V&A ( and the Science Museum ( And the Natural History Museum ( has a Christmas market and an ice-skating rink (

Food destinations

Brompton Road is slewing with restaurants. Racine, one of London's best French restaurants, is at number 239. Less formal is Aubaine at 260-262, a little slice of Paris life with a perfect patisserie ( The Brompton Quarter Café is at 225, decked out in mirrors and chandeliers from ex-RCA students, with a huge menu and a delicious deli section (

Also on Brompton Road are La Brassiere, The Oratory, The Good Earth, the Brasserie St Quentin, and The Collection. Daphnes at 112 Draycott Avenue is a firm favourite with the Sloanes - part of the Caprice group, and giving Tuscan rustic charm a sophisticated edge ( Monza at 6 Yeoman's Row, a little off the beaten track, is an unpretentious, old-fashioned local Italian, full of racing-car memorabilia that is quirky but fun (

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