Real choices: The ultimate guide to the millennium sales

Oh God, is it that time of year already? Yes it is, but fear not, we're here to make life easy for you. Below, Charlotte Packer rumbles London's best homeware bargains, while Zoe Brown, opposite, leads the way through the maze of the city's fashion houses district by district. Happy shopping!

Although it sounds like a contradiction in terms, the January sales present the perfect opportunity for a real splurge. The true bargain is the sofa, chair, lamp or designer item which was once beyond your means but suddenly made affordable; or classic essentials (simple white china or good quality bedlinen) which have been reduced to allow for serious bulk buying.

So, where to start? For large household items as well as accessories try department stores. Harrods' sale is the granddaddy of them all, which is no doubt why shoppers camp out in the Brompton Road days in advance. The sale includes some good discounts in homewares (up to 50 per cent off selected glassware and china, and similar reductions for rugs and kelims) and furniture. (Fancy a four poster bed for your cat or dog? Yours for a mere pounds 3,500 down from pounds 10,500.)

At Selfridges you can snap up a Maytag American fridge freezer for pounds 1,499 (usually pounds 2,249) or Sealy and Hypnos beds at half price. Oriental rugs are also reduced by up to 50 per cent as is Ralph Lauren bedlinen.

For more designer bargains, Heal's is offering discounts in all departments (lighting, furniture, kitchenware etc). The most tempting reductions are leather sofas reduced from pounds 2,785 to pounds 2,368; the elegant Claude sofa reduced by pounds 215 to pounds 1,215; and Matthew Hilton's classic Balzac chair which has been reduced from pounds 1,695 to pounds 1,441.

Habitat, reliable, affordable and stylish, is an excellent place for good reductions on everything for the home. Look out for sofas and chairs in end-of-range fabrics, which will be reduced by up to pounds 200. One of the best buys is the comfy Onslow sofa which has been reduced from pounds 1,099 to pounds 799.

Jerry's Home Store has a great range of white porcelain reduced by 50 per cent, with side plates pounds 1.95, dinner plates pounds 3.95 and cups and saucers pounds 3.75. The best bargains can be found among the ex-display furniture where you'll find a Houston three-seater sofa reduced from pounds 1,850 to pounds 950. And if that weren't temptation enough, shoppers who spend pounds 75 or more during the sales period are offered a pounds 40 discount on Graphite Dualit combi toasters.

For up-market china check out Bridgewater where there will be at least 40 per cent off Emma Bridgewater's pottery, cookware and textiles. The sale also includes discounted samples and seconds. Sets of eight large dinner plates will be going for a mere pounds 50 (usually pounds 103.60).

At the cheaper end of the market, Inventory, already a great place for a bargain, offers some excellent opportunities for bulk buying. Here almost all stock will be marked down for the sale. Best buys include half price bedlinen and decorative china. And, good news for those among you who are already planning Christmas 2000, this year's Christmas decorations will be reduced by up to 50 per cent.

For more unusual household accessories, the chic west London interiors shop Graham & Green is a good hunting ground. Selected fabrics will be half price (striped cottons down to pounds 6.85/m), and all kelims will be reduced by 25 per cent. If you are looking for a spectacular focal point for your sitting room, take a look at their huge, baroque twig and flower mirror reduced from pounds 1,135 to pounds 565. David Wainwright specialises in colonial- style furniture from Indonesia and China and will be reducing all prices by 20 per cent for the New Year sale. Now is the time to treat yourself to one of their coffee tables (Patsy and Liam have one), linen cupboards or perhaps some of their unusual decorative items from door handles to jewellery boxes.

For a new look for your bedroom, start with the bed. Simon Horn, who makes beautiful reproduction beds, has some wonderful designs in which you can sleep off the season's excesses. There will be a 10 per cent discount on all stock and up to 50 per cent off cancelled orders and discontinued ranges. Two dramatic sleigh beds in solid rosewood have been reduced from pounds 5,335 to pounds 2,995, and a caned Louis XVI bed is down from pounds 2,438 to pounds 1,695.

And to go with that bed, how about some elegant bedlinen? Cologne & Cotton's sale includes fine Egyptian cotton sheets, down from pounds 38.50 to pounds 28, and stylish blue and white striped duvet sets down from pounds 67.85 to pounds 39.95. Bargains at The White Company include 15 per cent off waffle blankets and cushions. More discounts for the bedroom can be found at Designers Guild where there is a 30 per cent reduction on 10 ranges of bedlinen, including Rosea, Acacia and Roxbury, and bath sheets in various colours including lilac and pistachio will be down from pounds 15.95 to pounds 11. For excellent reductions on fabrics and wallpapers check out the Designers Guild Warehouse sale where there will be reductions from 20 per cent on a wide range of stock.

For chic and truly luxurious household accessories The Cross should be on your list. The sale, though relatively contained, promises to include discounts of up to 50 per cent on covetable pieces such as Dosa homewares and Asta Barrington's divine throws and cushions. Similarly, at The Cross's neighbour, Cath Kidston, the sale will not be vast but reductions on end- of-line items make it well worth a visit if you are a fan of her charming retro floral designs.

Liberty, with its eclectic stock, is always fun during the sales. Expect big discounts in all departments, the best of which include GP & J Baker sofas at half price, large reductions on carpets from Iran, Nepal and Pakistan, and large lime wood framed mirrors which have been reduced by 50 per cent. Other more practical bargains include 10.5 tog goose down double duvets at pounds 129 which are reduced from pounds 259.

If your kitchen needs a new lease of life, start your shopping at Buyers and Sellers in west London. The shop is well loved by interior designers for its excellent and competitively priced white goods. For the sale, Siemens fridges will be down from pounds 599 to pounds 464 and there will be pounds 100 off retro Smeg fridges. There will also be reductions of up to 30 per cent on a wide range of former display and end-of-line items.

If it's kitchen furniture rather than electrical goods you're after, John Lewis of Hungerford is offering many good deals including sleek double drawer worktables with oiled maple tops, pounds 699 down from pounds 845.

If you are in the process of doing up your house, now is the best time to save money on things such as tiles and bathroom fittings which seem expensive and are not usually as much fun to buy as sofas and electrical goods. A good discount at a specialist outlet such as Paris Ceramics, where Jura Limestone floors are down from pounds 45 per square metre to pounds 35, will ease the pain. The shop promises 10 per cent on all tiles, 15 per cent on all French limestones and bigger bargains on complete floors in either terracotta or stone.

So, now that you know where the bargains are, all you have to do is get out the plastic and work out how to lug them home.

WHERE TO GO FOR HOME BARGAINS

Harrods

Knightsbridge, London SW1 (tel: 0171 730 1234). From 5 January.

Selfridges

400 Oxford Street, London W1 (tel: 020 2629 1234); Trafford Centre, Trafford Park, Manchester, M17 (tel: 0161 629 1234). From 27 December in London and 26 December in Manchester.

Heal's

196 Tottenham Court Road, London W1 (tel: 0171 636 1666) and branches. From 27 December to16 January.

Habitat

208 King's Road, London SW3 (tel: 0171 351 1211); or tel: 0845 60 10 740 for other branches. From 27 December.

Jerry's Home Store

163 Fulham Road, London SW3 (tel: 0171 225 2246); 57 Heath Street, London NW3 (tel: 0171 794 8622); Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, SW1 (tel: 0171 245 6251); The Bentall Centre, Kingston, Surrey (tel: 0181 794 8622); Bluewater, Kent, (tel: 01322 427016). From 27 December.

Bridgewater

739 Fulham Road, London SW6 (tel: 0171 371 5264). From 6 January for two weeks.

Inventory

26-40 Kensington High Street, London W8 (tel: 0171 937 2626). From 27 December.

Graham & Green

4, 7 and 10 Elgin Crescent, London W11 (tel: 0171 727 4594). From 7 January.

David Wainwright

63 Portobello Road, London W11 (tel: 0171 727 0707). From 29 December.

Simon Horn Furniture

117-121 Wandsworth Bridge Road, London SW6 (tel: 0171 731 1279); and at Harrods, John Lewis stores and Liberty. From 4-29 January.

Cologne & Cotton

88 Marylebone High Street, London W1 (tel: 0171 486 0595); 791 Fulham Road, London SW6 (tel: 0171 736 9261); 39 Kensington Church Street, London W8 (tel: 0171 376 0324). From 4 Janunary.

The White Company

Mail order only (tel: 0171 385 7988).

Liberty

214 Regents Street, W1 (tel 0171 734 1234). From 27 December.

Designers Guild

267-271 Kings Road, London SW3 (tel: 0171 351 5775). From 8-23 January. Warehouse sale, 6 Relay Road, London W12.

The Cross

141 Portland Road, London W11 (tel: 0171 727 6760) From 10 January.

Cath Kidston

8 Clarendon Cross, London W11 (tel: 0171 221 4000); Liberty, W1 (tel: 0171 734 1234). From 27 December.

Buyers and Sellers

20-122 Ladbroke Grove, London W10 (tel: 0171 229 1947). From 28 December.

John Lewis of Hungerford

Hungerford (tel: 01488 688 100); London (tel: 0171 734 1234). From 27 December.

Paris Ceramics

583 New Kings Road, London SW6 (tel: 0171 371 7778). From 4 January.

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