Uncover rare gifts and one-of-a-kind finds on your next holiday shopping adventure
Designer names and high-end goods are alluring year-round, but there’s no more exciting time to explore the shopping options in a new city than the holiday season. | By Paul Oswell | November 4, 2022 (Updated February 21, 2023)
There’s something magical about shopping during the holiday season. Walking through the elaborate, city-wide light exhibits, admiring the intricate department store window displays and scoping out atmospheric artisanal markets. For high-end retail, though, certain cities stand out above the rest. Here are our suggestions for haute holiday shopping getaways:
Sleek Singapore: From Orchard Road to Marina Bay, let the dazzling light shows lead you to the city’s most desirable stores
Dynamic New York: Iconic department stores compete to impress through their windows, with the world’s biggest names on display
Poised Paris: Chic French style intersects with spectacular light shows illuminating the city’s best-known landmarks
If there’s an Asian hub synonymous with distinguished fashion brands and exclusive lifestyle products, then Singapore is it. Orchard Road is the city’s most favored destination for international designer names. Meanwhile, Design Orchard is the place where shoppers can find new and emerging Singaporean brands. Oh, and we can’t forget TANGS, Singapore’s oldest department store, filled with curated international and domestic designers.
Local and global holiday traditions are all celebrated in Singapore, with spectacular light shows around Marina Bay, where you’ll also find seasonal markets and impressively decorated trees. From mid-November through the new year, dazzling arches stretch for some 2 miles (3 kilometers) and 3D projections and holograms bring high-end shopping centers to life.
If you want to be in the center of the action, Conrad Centennial Singapore is ideally located for seasonal displays and sophisticated shopping around both Orchard Road and Marina Bay. The hotel is also connected to the Millenia Walk mall, another retail haven that features bespoke offerings, fine jewelry, high-end tech and electronics, and more. Allow the concierge to arrange transportation and store appointments for you, then recharge with refined Cantonese cuisine and signature dim sum at the property’s lauded Golden Peony restaurant.
Over the last few decades, top fashion houses have set up flagship stores along New York City’s most desirable streets, drawing both globe-trotting and local shoppers alike. You’ll find most of the biggest names in fashion around midtown Manhattan, particularly along Fifth Avenue, Madison Avenue and 57th Street, and more recently farther downtown.
Each year, the largest department stores compete to out-dazzle one another with their elaborate festive window displays, and the decorations at Bergdorf Goodman, Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s are a must-see for passing shoppers. The shopping options in New York are almost overwhelming – from the world’s biggest Dolce & Gabbana store to bespoke luggage stores and everything in between.
To further streamline your holiday shopping experience, keep in mind your accommodation's proximity to your preferred retail destinations. Five blocks from Central Park, Conrad New York Midtown is neighbors with such names as Tiffany & Company, Cartier and the huge Armani Fifth Avenue. Conrad New York Downtown, meanwhile, is perfect for browsing the likes of Prada and Gucci, which are peppered throughout SoHo and the Nolita neighborhood downtown. Both properties have concierge services that are plugged into the city’s retail nerve centers, and they can happily direct you, or arrange viewings of specific collections. Stay eco-friendly and ask about personalized Conrad tote bags that can be reused throughout your stay for the ultimate sustainable shopping spree.
The City of Light truly shines for the holiday season, and it has all the elements you need to celebrate the season during an unforgettable shopping escape. Some of these ingredients are quite literal in Paris, with delicacies like chocolates, truffles and of course, Champagne all vying for space in gift baskets around the city.
The Champs-Elysees has one of the world’s most famous light displays for the holiday season, but Place Concorde and Bercy Village should also be on your holiday shopping itinerary. To soak up that unequivocal French style, head to Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, where around 40 global fashion houses have boutiques, ateliers and showrooms, including Hermes and Chanel. If you really want to impress with unique holiday gifts, then take advantage of the city’s vintage offerings. RoseMarket Vintage in the 9th arrondissement is known by shoppers for its selection of Dior and Chanel, while Kiliwatch in the 2nd arrondissement is another favorite, and includes new items as well as its own brand.
Among the most evocative spots in the city at this time of year are the State Apartments at the historic Palace of Versailles. By booking a VIP tour, you can skip the line to bask in the glory of iconic rooms such as the Hall of Mirrors. From there, it’s just a short walk across the festively-lit Gardens of Versailles to Waldorf Astoria Versailles – Trianon Palace. The stunning property is exquisitely illuminated for the holidays, and you can enjoy a memorable, seasonal dinner at the one Michelin-starred Gordon Ramsay au Trianon, or a tailor-made vitality treatment as a gift to yourself at the hotel’s Spa Guerlain.
Even if you’ve visited them before, seeing these glamourous cities transformed with celebratory holiday lights and seasonal flair is a completely new and worthwhile experience. If a truly memorable getaway is on your wish list this year, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for at these must-shop destinations.
Paul Oswell is an award-winning travel writer and has reported from all seven continents for dozens of internationally known publications. He is based in New Orleans and is the author of “The Bucket List North America: 1,000 Adventures Big and Small” and the editor of an online travel magazine.