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Blog

Luxury Week at The Royal Exchange

Alixe Lay

The Royal Exchange

The Royal Exchange is a luxury retail space located in the City of London, right outside of Bank station. As well as being aesthetically beautiful, the building is steeped in historical significance dating back to 1566. The building now houses a selection of carefully curated boutique shopping and dining options. As part of Luxury Week, I visited The Royal Exchange to check out what it has to offer.

The first thing that grabbed my attention was the architecture. This Grade-I listed building was strikingly grand, with intricate details on every corner. It's a pleasure to watch as the most beautiful light floods in through the transparent glass ceiling, shifting and changing throughout the day. You’re in for a treat if you end up here on a day with sparse and fast moving cloud, as it is particularly mesmerising.

The history of The Royal Exchange dates back to 1566, when it was built as the city's financial centre. Later in 1660, the founder of The Royal Exchange, Sir Thomas Gresham brought in the retail element, making this building the first shopping mall in Britain. After the original building had been destroyed by two separate occasions of fire, in 1844, Sir William won the competition to design the current building as we see it today. Since then, the building has been abandoned, and then repurposed into a theatre, financial centre and finally, back into a retail space. In the most recent effort to breathe new life into The Royal Exchange, a remodelling of the building took place in 2001, transforming it into a prime luxury and dining destination.

L1240610.jpg
Ceiling, The Royal Exchange
Window, The Royal Exchange
The Royal Exchange
Gate, The Royal Exchange
Roof, The Royal Exchange
Clock, The Royal Exchange

I started off my day with a coffee at The Royal Exchange Grind. With a strong presence of marble and concrete, juxtapositioned with golden details and a striking neon light sign, the contemporary style of its interior both contrasts and complements the old architecture of the building.

The Royal Exchange Grind
The Royal Exchange Grind
The Royal Exchange Grind, Coffee

After a quick wander around the building I went along to the Leica M experience workshop. Leica has a store here in The Royal Exchange, which is where the workshop took place. I was super excited to try out their iconic M series cameras and boy, they did not disappoint. Akademie Ambassador, Robin went through the history of Leica M cameras, taught us the basics of operating one and then we were off to experiment and shoot. It was such a great experience learning all about the M cameras. It gave me a taste of how it’s like to shoot with one, it almost felt like I was learning a completely different device for photography, akin to switching from a phone to a DSLR. And needless to say, the quality of the camera, the lens and the photos is absolutely amazing, exactly what you would expect from Leica.

Leica M cameras
Leica store, The Royal Exchange

Here are some shots that I took with the Leica M10, Summilux-M 35mm f1.4.

Taken with Leica M10
Stranger, The Royal Exchange
Taken with Leica M10

While here, I simply could not miss having lunch at the iconic Fortnum & Mason located in the centre of the courtyard. The quality of the food was excellent, and the dessert was particularly stunning. It was lovely to spend the afternoon here under the most beautiful natural light that floods in from the glass roof, surrounded by age-old architecture.

Fortnum & Mason, The Royal Exchange
Fortnum & Mason, The Royal Exchange
Fortnum & Mason, The Royal Exchange
Fortnum & Mason, The Royal Exchange
Fortnum & Mason, The Royal Exchange

I’ve also had a good snoop around the shops in The Royal Exchange. There is a real mix of established and contemporary brands. Here are some of my favourites.

Montblanc

Montblanc

Smythson

Smythson

Fortnum & Mason

Fortnum & Mason

Fortnum & Mason, The Royal Exchange
Penhaligon’s

Penhaligon’s

Bremont

Bremont

Cutter & Squidge, Jo Malone, Tom Davies, Crockett & Jones

Cutter & Squidge, Jo Malone, Tom Davies, Crockett & Jones

I hope you’ve enjoyed discovering The Royal Exchange with me. The dining and shopping options are excellent and to top it all off, you get to experience them in the most elegant and iconic buildings in London. Despite being so central in the City of London, The Royal Exchange often falls under most people’s radars - let’s change that. If you’re in London, you need to visit The Royal Exchange, the oldest and the most beautiful shopping mall in Britain.

Entrance, The Royal Exchange

This post is sponsored by The Royal Exchange.

Unless otherwise stated, all photos were shot on Leica SL, Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90mm f2.8-4 ASPH.


The Royal Exchange

Royal Exchange,
London EC3V 3LR