A new global survey has updated the list of this year's most expensive shopping streets in the world. Ranking is based on cost per square foot of retail space, and that translates into the costs of the products they sell. If you're a die-hard bargain hunter, you're unlikely to find one in these neighborhoods.
But if elite brands and deluxe treatment are on your agenda, here's where you should head – and where we recommend you rest your head after a long day of travel retail therapy in these chic neighborhoods.
In the 19th century, this is where the .1% of super wealthy American industrialists built their mansions overlooking Central Park, earning it the name 'Millionaire's Row'.
These days, the billionaires live in penthouses, and shopping is a lifestyle. New York's iconic Upper 5th Avenue costs its luxury retail tenants a whopping $3,500 per square foot. The crème de la crème of luxury American department stores, clothiers and jewelers' flagships line 5th Avenue – as well as the US flagship stores of their European and international counterparts.
Photo Credit: Dmadeo
It's a storied destination, landmark after landmark: Bergdorf Goodman, exclusive jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels, Manhattan's premier department store Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, Harry Winston, the fabled toy store FAO Schwarz where Tom Hanks worked in the movie Big, and of course, the remarkably understated Tiffany & Co., the jeweler of the robin's egg blue boxes and the timeless film Breakfast at Tiffany's. And don't even get us started on Sex and the City!
Where to Stay in the Neighborhood:
The Plaza Hotel is a storied destination on 5th Avenue opposite Central Park South, an old-money venue that resembles a French chateau. On the inside, elegant, French design, gold-plated fixtures, luxury linens, suites with city views, and butler's pantries. Don't miss the fabled afternoon tea in Palm Court, or the champagne bar.
Langham Place is an elegant modern tower hotel 5 minutes from the Empire State Building, with understated décor incorporating wood and marble, an 11,000 square foot luxury spa, fitness centre, hair salon, and kitchens and city views in the upper floor suites.
2. Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Hong Kong and New York are in a league of their own when it comes to price of retail real estate. Causeway Bay rents out at nearly $2500 a square foot.
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Causeway Bay is one of the most crowded neighborhoods on densely built up Hong Kong island, an historic neighborhood that expanded tremendously due to land reclamation initiatives into the bay. It stands out on our list of expensive shopping streets in two ways: it's more of a mini district, a maze of streets packed elbow-to-elbow with people and shops. And those shops, unlike most expensive shopping districts, are not the 'usual suspects' of lavish flagship stores of internationally known luxury brands.
It does include the upscale Japanese department store Sogo, as well as smaller malls such as World Trade Centre, Windsor House, and Hang Lung Centre. But Causeway Bay is also home to trendy shops, and market stalls selling local and international fashion and products, and quirky specializations like ukuleles, or watches, or snacks, or skin care. The atmosphere here is one-of-a-kind, with shops often open til midnight, packed with Hong Kong's young and trendy.
Where to Stay in the Neighborhood
Photo: Mandarin Oriental Hotels
The Excelsior is an icon of Causeway Bay, built on "Lot No.1", the first plot of land sold at auction after Hong Kong became a British Colony in 1841. The hotel, the first in Hong Kong to have more than a thousand rooms, opened in 1973, and is now the headquarters of the luxe Mandarin Oriental hotel group. The hotel is opposite Hong Kong's famous 'Noon-Day Gun', immortalized in Noel Coward's 'Mad Dogs and Englishmen'. For years, a cannon has been fired daily by Victoria Harbour, originally serving as a time signal in colonial Hong Kong, and the tradition continues today – so don't be alarmed!
Photo: Chong Fat
Crowne Plaza Hong Kong Causeway Bay has sleek rooms that come with sleep-aid aromatherapy kits, and some have Happy Valley Racecourse views. There's a rooftop pool, a gym, a cocktail bar and an airy restaurant with an open kitchen.
The iconic French boulevard is one of the most renowned streets on earth, but price-wise, the Champs Elysees isn't even in the same league as the top two, costing tenants less than $1400 per square foot.
Photo: Benh LIEU SONG
The French call it 'the world's most beautiful avenue'. We can't disagree. It's a majestic, double tree-lined boulevard between two of Paris' greatest landmarks, the Place de la Concorde and the imposing war memorial Arc de Triomphe, where the annual Bastille Day parade and the finish of the Tour de France cycling race take place.
You'd think such a street would be a magnet to the French luxury brands and couture houses. Many are here or nearby: Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Guerlain, Gaultier, Chanel, Hermes, Dior, Givenchy, Lanvin, Saint Laurent… But also, (in many cases, to the horror of Parisians) over-the-top versions of popular international brands' stores have gained a foothold. You won't want to miss the art installations at Levi's, the personalized shopping at Banana Republic, or the spectacular design and club atmosphere at Abercrombie Fitch.
Where to Stay in the Neighborhood:
The Four Seasons Hotel George V is a luxurious landmark hotel just off the Champs Elysees. While built in the late 1920's, its rooms and suites are styled after Louis XVI: bright, sophisticated, elegant and ornate, with private terraces for suites, an afternoon tea lounge with original art, and a chic bar, as well as indoor pool, sauna, and steam.
The Paris Marriott Champs Elysees overlooks the shopping boulevard, a short walk from the Arc de Triomphe. Rooms and amenities are classic, at international 5-star standards, including iPod docks, marble bathrooms, fitness and business facilities, a French eatery and a terrace restaurant.
The most expensive shopping destination in the UK comes in at over $1300 a square foot. The street is a protected heritage location, with many listed buildings, and alterations and construction kept within strict style and material guidelines on shops and their advertising.
It's claimed that Bond Street has the highest density of haute couture stores anywhere in the world. With a legacy as a chic destination going back hundreds of years, in the last century, Bond Street was best known for top-end art dealers and antique shops around Sotheby's auction house.
Sotheby's remains, but Bond Street's new claim to fame is its local and global luxury fashion boutiques, including the flagship stores of Ralph Lauren and Cartier, department stores Fenwick and Tiffany's.
Picture: CC BY-SA 3.0
Where to Stay in the Neighborhood:
Photo: Tim Westcott
Claridge's has been referred to as an 'annexe to Buckingham Palace' for its long-standing connections to royalty. The hotel is an art deco masterpiece only minutes from Bond Street tube. Each room has been individually designed; fresh flowers are standard and butler service is provided in suites, some of which even have grand pianos. Don't miss the 1930's cocktail bar and especially afternoon tea in the art deco foyer, a destination event you will want to book time for to refresh during your shopping adventures on Bond Street.
Le Meridien is at Picadilly, a Regency-style hotel with rooms and suites, a grill with modern, upscale British cuisine and afternoon tea, as well as a chic cocktail bar, indoor pool and spa and even meeting rooms if you're in London on business.
Italy's first shopping street costs tenants just over a thousand dollars a square foot every year. The essential shopping street in the capital city of Italian couture, Via Montenapoleone (also known as Via Monte Napoleone) is home to flagship stores of fabled Italian fashion, footware, and jewelry houses like Ferragamo, Valentino, Pucci, Bottega Veneta, Prada, Bulgari, Gucci, Versace, Zegna, Fendi, Armani… and then there are the boutiques for French couture, luxury Swiss time pieces, and other international brands.
Photo of Gucci Store: Tengis Bilegsaikhan
You can also give your platinum credit card a work out on fantastic vintage, and high design and kitchenware, and entertainment too. Caffe Cova is one of the city's oldest cafes/confectioners. It's a perfect place to recharge your shopping batteries.
Where in the Neighborhood to Stay:
Two nearby hotels reflect Via Monte Napoleone's fashion pedigree: Bulgari Hotel Milano, an extension of the jewelry brand, is set in an 18th century palace with garden or courtyard views and black Zimbabwe marble accents, 2 chic bars, an indoor pool, luxurious spa and even fitness trainers.
Armani Hotel Milano is just a minute's walk from Montenapoleone metro station. The chic, contemporary rooms and suites were designed by Giorgio Armani, and you'll be able to enjoy panoramic views over Milan's city skyline in its sleek restaurant and lounge bar. There's also an indoor pool, a spa, fitness, and a business center.
The remaining ten most expensive shopping streets in the world?
Were you expecting LA's Rodeo Drive? Maybe Bal Harbour in Miami or the Strip in Vegas? No other US destination outside New York has made the list – yet - but hopefully these shopping districts in Europe, Asia and even Australia, are in your fun or business travel future.