With its imposing Corinthian columns, The Royal Exchange is an architectural landmark in the City of London, but behind its distinctive façade you’ll find a contemporary retail space, home to a world-class collection of luxury brands.
Built by Sir Thomas Gresham in 1565 as a stock exchange with a Central Courtyard, trading floor and shops, the building was sadly destroyed by fire not once, but twice – in 1666 and 1838 – and was rebuilt, mirroring the original design, in 1844. In 2001, the prestigious, Grade I-listed building was reinvented as a luxury shopping destination, and today houses boutiques from upscale brands such as Orlebar Brown, Leica, Tiffany & Co. and Montblanc. The building’s 35 boutiques, restaurants and bars are arranged on the outside of the building as well as around the bustling Central Courtyard and chic Grand Café, where the City converges to eat and drink.
With its mix of stunning architecture and high-end shopping and dining, The Royal Exchange is a particularly magical place at Christmas, and this year’s festivities kick off in style with a tree-lighting ceremony on 23 November, from 6.30pm. A magnificent 25ft Christmas tree, decorated by Montblanc, will be lit by Olympic heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson, and guests can enjoy complimentary mulled wine, hot chocolate and mince pies while being serenaded with carolling from the East London Chorus.
The event marks the start of The Royal Exchange Christmas season, which will also include a Christmas Masterclass on 15 December, where expert craftspeople will be demonstrating a variety of seasonal crafts. There will also be late-night shopping in December, and, once you’ve found all the gifts you’re looking for, why not sit back and soak up the festive atmosphere from the first floor, with a three-course holiday menu at elegant French restaurant Sauterelle.
Offering everything from fine jewellery and desirable watches to decorative homeware and covetable leather goods, The Royal Exchange is sure to delight discerning shoppers seeking unique and indulgent presents for their loved ones this Christmas.
Five decadent gift ideas (pictured above)
- Penhaligon’s Juniper Sling gift set, inspired by London Dry gin, £118
- Bremont Boeing 100 limited-edition watch in aviation-grade titanium, £5,495
- Halcyon Days hand-painted leopard enamel cuff, £350
- Georg Jensen gold-plated wreath Christmas decoration, £49
- Boodles Sophie pendant in 18ct rose gold with pink mother of pearl and diamonds, £16,700