Burlington Arcade review
Burlington Arcade is famous for its Beadles: they look like doormen dressed up in top hats and tails and are supposed to enforce a load of dopey rules like No whistling! No singing! and No holding an open umbrella! But if truth be told they are just a couple of old geezers who stand there staring at the traffic. When I was in there today, for example, a couple of kids tried to whistle a few tunes for a laugh (which is totally against the Burlington commandments), and what did they do? Absolutely nothing. Nowt. I was very disappointed. I thought they were supposed to come charging down the aisle with machine guns blazing and blow the kids to smithereens, but they didn't even break their gaze off the buses. But I bet if I whistled a tune, though, they'd beat the living daylights out of me. That is the kind of luck I have.
As for the shops, they're all posh and expensive boutiquey-like places. They are so expensive that even rich people can't afford to shop in them -- that is how expensive they are. I saw a cotton scarf on sale for seventy quid. No joke. And it wasn't even made out of wool! How is that supposed to keep you warm in the winter? Only rich people would buy a scarf that's made out of cotton. You can get second-hand Rolex watches (still ten grand a pop), five grand fountain pens, silk ties, bow ties, and the kind of pastel hats that women wear to Ascot. They have impossibly shiny bottles of perfume -- they look like toffee coloured whiskey in a crystal decanter. Pearl necklaces with beads the size of onions. Wallet-sized handbags that cost more than a house. Hand stitched leather shoes. Umbrellas with carved handles. Don't bother going in there for your groceries because the only food on sale is chocolate. The famous sweet shop at the end is decorated in gold -- all over. Every wall, shelf and spare inch of ceiling is covered in gold leaf -- and that is not an exaggeration. It's the shiniest shop in Britain.
I don't bother going in the shops anymore because they're the same size as shoeboxes, and I like to flit through life like I wasn't there -- I like to remain anonymous. I don't want to start up a conversation with the shop staff. As soon as you step through the door you are practically standing tiptoes with a saleswoman who will greet you with a cider-like 'Hello, Sir', or 'Hello, Madam', or 'How can I help you today?' Obviously you can't admit to her that you're only there to be nosey, so for the next two minutes you basically have to pretend that you have a spare five grand to spend on a Rolex watch. She totally knows that you don't. And you know that you don't. Even the Burlington Beadles know that you don't. But this is the game that everyone plays down Burlington Arcade. She probably only gets one real customer each week, and she knows darn well that you're not him -- you're just another in a long line of nosey tourists who have come in to ooh and aah at the shiny objects on her velvety shelves.
The only thing that I can afford to buy is a tin of boot polish from the shoe-shine guy. He looks like one of those old-fashioned shoe-shiners you sometimes see in sepia-tinged photos of the steam train station. He's got a pot full of brushes and a chemistry set of oils and unguents, and you are supposed to sit there in the middle of the arcade whilst he buffs up your loafers and makes chit-chat about the weather.
What do you think?Please leave a comment
Have you seen my London book?
Honest reviews of London’s landmarks and attractions
Money saving tips things to do for free and cheap days out
Useful information with opening times, prices, photos, maps
Thu 10th Aug, 2017I emailed them to ask, and got this reply back: You are more than welcome to bring your dog on our boat trip. Not only... more
Tue 8th Aug, 2017Cheers Jim, I hope your enjoy your visit. I've been to Sydney a few times so I'm almost an Aussie. Never got... more
Wed 19th Jul, 2017It's a beautiful building to visit and well worth seeing inside, but I agree that the court cases themselves can be... more
Sat 15th Jul, 2017I can not think about your review, I am still laughing ... thanks. I plan to visit the Jewel Tower in August. The... more
Mon 10th Jul, 2017it's funny that you posted your comment today because I've just been thinking about going again (it's... more
Tue 27th Jun, 2017Not sure I can really help with a visa mate, but I hope you enjoy your visit
Tue 20th Jun, 2017I'm in the Top 10 fruitcakes, definitely... maybe the Top 5 on a good day
Tue 30th May, 2017Cheers bob, handy piece of info
Mon 29th May, 2017They're basically just buskers so I wouldn't have a clue, sorry. You could try contacting the Covent Garden... more
Thu 25th May, 2017To be honest I can't remember. You definitely can at St. Paul's because I sat in them myself (but then... more
Wed 24th May, 2017Apparently that's nothing more than a pat on the head, to tell the horse he's done a good job. But it's... more
Tue 9th May, 2017you'll have quite a bit. The Docklands Light Railway won't be a problem because that's totally wheelchair... more