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With rain-soaked pavements and throngs of unsmiling shoppers, shopping in London can be less than pleasant without some insider knowledge. But we’re here to help: just two umbrella-dodging minutes from London’s hectic Oxford Circus, there’s a serenely sparkling wonderland: welcome to Swarovski Crystallized

Shopping in London: Swarovski Crystallized

Opposite Liberty, close to all the West End theatres and just steps from No.5 Maddox Street, Swarovski Crystallized is a two-floor shopping haven: upstairs, the lounge often hosts soirées for the fashion A-list – Cara Delevingne’s popped in several times – but during the day invited guests can lounge on the decadently crystal-covered sofa (it’s really, really heavy) sipping champagne, while trinket after trinket is brought out from the display case for your admiration. You can bring your own iPod to plug into the lounge’s sound system, and on departure, lounge guests leave with a gift bag stuff with goodies… and more champagne. If you’re visiting London with a fan of dazzling crystal jewellery, this is the place to be: one Swedish Swarovski fan was even surprised in the lounge by a perfectly planned proposal (orchestrated by her creative beau with the help of the shop’s staff).

Swarovski Crystallized in LondonSwarovski Crystallized in LondonOnce I’d lounged for long enough upstairs, it was time to head back down the stairs, stopping to stare at the spectacular chandelier above, for a tour of the shop floor. On ground level, a world of glittering design is laid out at your fingertips: each season, the Swarovski Crystallized collection adds new works by top designers from around the globe. If you feel like taking a trip to Brazil – to private island paradise Ponta dos Ganchos in Santa Catarina, perhaps? – pick up one of the intricate pieces by Caleidoscópio. If you’re in a Spanish mood, Anton Heunis’ colourful works of wearable art are handmade in Madrid, a mile from Hotel Único. Each designer has his or her picture displayed prominently beside their works, and it’s funny how an already gorgeous necklace seems just that little bit lovelier when you can see the handsome face of its creator (I’m looking at you, Marco Mencagli of Marmèn).

Swarovski Crystallized feels like a sweet shop for grown-ups: if you’re looking for a purple jewel-encrusted rotary phone (or perhaps just a customised, crystallised iPhone case), you’ll find it here. If cocktail rings are more your thing, there’s a brilliant array ready to try on. These are not your grandmother’s jewels, either, although there are certainly a few pieces that’d delight a chic octogenarian just as much as a trend-hunting teen:  the collection’s classic pieces – think your most glamorous great aunt going to a gala – sit elegantly alongside neon wristbands by Bibi Bijoux and Hely Designs. And if you’re feeling creative, your first port of call will be the shop’s ‘library of light’, an entire wall of loose crystals that attracts designers, stylists, make-up artists and interior designers from throughout Europe. After my hour spent sipping champagne and browsing all the beads and bangles, even the incessant rain on the pavement outside started to look like a billion brilliant crystals…

Visit Swarovski Crystallized at 24 Great Marlborough Street, London W1F 7HU. If you’d like to visit the lounge upstairs, ring ahead: +44 (0)20 7434 3444.

(All photos by Rachel Juarez-Carr)

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