One of the world’s most exciting retail centres, London is also one of the most varied. The shopping scene spans multicultural street markets and deluxe department stores, cutting-edge fashion designers and traditional tailors, smart food shops and tiny delis.
Shop for Yourself
The London Transport Museum shop has a wide range of official Transport for London products for visitors to buy online or in the Covent Garden shop. From exclusive print to order art posters and books, to popular children’s toys and chic homeware, they have a fantastic selection of gifts and souvenirs. Gallery One, also in Covent Garden, specialises in contemporary art prints, which make stylish souvenirs. Oxford St is the place to shop for clothing, but you’ll find outlets of many of the same shops in less-crowded High St Kensington.
Shop for Others
For a traditional London treat, pick up a Fortnum & Mason’s hamper of teas and jam (181 Piccadilly). Another classic souvenir is a Liberty-print scarf (Great Marlborough St). If you’re after a sweet-smelling gift, Penhaligon’s perfume shop (16-17 Burlington Arcade) has an excellent range of perfumes and bath products. Most trips to London include a visit to Harrods (87 Brompton Rd); pick up a tote bag or tea towel for friends at home.
Shop for Kids
You’ll be guaranteed to find something for the kids at Hamleys department store (188-196 Regent St), said to be the largest toy store in the world. Pick up a classic Hamleys bear here, or find a beefeater bear at souvenir shops across the city. A snow globe of the London skyline or a Postbox money box are also popular picks for the younger set.
Where to Buy
Covent Garden & Soho
The Covent Garden shopping precinct is choked with chains, but Neal Street and the streets radiating off Seven Dials rule for trainers and streetwise gear. Another urbanwear hotspot is Soho’s Carnaby Street, which has traded souvenir shops for hip chains and independents. Berwick Street is still hanging on to some record shops, while Charing Cross Road (especially Cecil Court) bristles with bookstores.
Oxford Street & Marylebone
Oxford Street is packed with big chains and department stores, which spill over on to elegant, curving Regent Street. In contrast, Marylebone has a villagey air and a collection of small shops that sell everything form designer jewellery to farmhouse cheeses. Venture further north to Church Street for antique shops.
Best known for its antiques market on Portobello Road, Notting Hill also has an impressive cache of posh boutiques around the intersection of Westbourne Grove and Ledbury Road – a laid-back alternative to the West End and Chelsea. The area is also good for rare vinyl and vintage clothes.
Mayfair & St James’s
The traditional home of tailors (Savile Row) and shirtmakers (Jermyn Street), this patch also retains venerable specialist hatters, cobblers and perfumers. Bond Street glitters with posh jewellers and designer flagships.
Chelsea & Knightsbridge
The once-legendary King’s Road is now pretty bland, but some interesting shops remain in place. Designer salons line Sloane Street and mix with chains on Knightsbridge, which is also home to many department stores.
Once a hub of hip fashion, Kensington High Street has given way to an influx of chain stores, However, it’s still worth exploring the back streets leading up to Notting Hill Gate. Upmarket antique shops gather in Kensington Church Street.
The O2, Greenwich Peninsula
Located inside The O2, Icon Outlet is one of London’s most exciting retail destinations. Open 7 days a week and within easy reach of Central London, just 15 minutes on the Jubilee Line, you’ll find over 60 superstar fashion and lifestyle brands with up to 70% of RRP every day including adidas, Calvin Klein, Levis, Nike, Next, Ted Baker and Tommy Hilfiger. From fashion, footwear and accessories to homeware, beauty and gifts, discover the best of outlet shopping across two spacious levels set amongst clean, contemporary surroundings, all under the world-famous roof of The O2.
Fortnum & Mason
A sweeping spiral staircase soars through the four-storey building, while light pours in from a central glass dome. The iconic eau de nil blue and gold colour scheme, with flashes of rose pink, features in both the store design and the packaging of the fabulous ground-floor treats – chocolates, biscuits, teas, preserves and other goodies. There’s a fabulous food hall in the basement.
In the store that sells everything, it’s hard not to leave with something. It’s on the fashion floors that Harrods really comes into its own with well-edited collections.
Shopping at Liberty is about more than just spending money – artful and eye-catching window displays, exciting new collection and luxe labels all make it an experience to savour. And despite being fashionable, Liberty still respects its dressmaking heritage, with an extensive range of cottons in the third-floor haberdashery department. Traditional stationery is also stocked, including beautiful notebooks, address books, photo albums and diaries.
Selfridges’ concession boutiques, store-wide themed events and hot new brands make it a stylish place to go for one-stop shopping; useful floor plans make it easy to navigate around the store. It stocks a winning combination of new talent, hip and edgy labels, smarter high-street labels, and mid- and high-end brands. March 2019 saw the 110th anniversary of the store.
Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports are great for last-minute shopping. In addition to the many big-name chains (WHSmith, Next, The Body Shop), there are great designer shops such as Ted Baker and Hugo Boss and even some upmarket designers including Dior, Gucci and Prada.