Fodor's London (2015)
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Shopping By Neighborhood
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Updated by Ellin Stein
The keyword of London shopping has always been “individuality,” whether expressed in the superb custom tailoring of Savile Row, the nonconformist punk roots of quintessential British designer Vivienne Westwood, or the unique small stores that purvey the owner’s private passion, whether paper theaters, toy soldiers, or buttons. This tradition is under threat from the influx of chains—global luxury, domestic mid-market, and international youth—but the distinctively British mix of quality and originality, tradition and character, remains.
You can try on underwear fit for a Queen at Her Majesty’s lingerie supplier, track down a leather-bound Brontë classic at an antiquarian bookseller, or find a bargain antique on Portobello Road. Whether you’re just browsing—there’s nothing like the size, variety, and sheer theater of London’s street markets to stimulate the acquisition instinct—or on a fashion-seeking mission, London shopping offers something for all tastes and budgets.
Although it’s impossible to pin down one particular look that defines the city, London style tends to fall into two camps: one is the quirky, individualistic, somewhat romantic look exemplified by homegrown designers like Matthew Williamson, Vivienne Westwood, and Lulu Guinness. The other reflects Britain’s celebrated tradition of classic knitwear and suiting, with labels like Jaeger, Pringle, and Brora, while Oswald Boateng, Paul Smith, and Richard James take tradition and give it a very modern twist. Traditional bespoke men’s tailoring can be found in the menswear stores of Jermyn Street and Savile Row—there’s no better place in the city to buy custom-made shirts and suits, while the handbags at Mulberry, Asprey, and Anya Hindmarch are pure classic quality. If your budget can’t stretch this far, no problem; the city’s chain stores like Topshop, Zara, and H&M, aimed at the younger end of the market, are excellent places to pick up designs copied straight from the catwalk at a fraction of the price, while mid-market chains like Reiss, Jigsaw, and L.K. Bennett offer smart design and better quality for the more sophisticated shopper.
If there’s anything that unites London’s designers, it’s a commitment to creativity and originality, underpinned by a strong sense of heritage. This combination of posh and rock-n-roll sensibilities turns up in everyone from Terence Conran, who revolutionized product and houseware design in the ’60s (and is still going strong), to Alexander McQueen, who combined the Punk aesthetic with the rigor of couture. You’ll see it in fanciful millinery creations by Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones, and in the work of imaginative shoemakers Nicholas Kirkwood, United Nude, and Terry de Havilland; and it keeps going, right through to current hot designers Erdem, Christopher Kane, and Christopher Bailey, the latter responsible for making traditional label Burberry relevant again.
One reason for London’s design supremacy is the strength of local fashion college Central St. Martin’s, whose graduates include Conran, Kane, McQueen, his successor at his eponymous label—and designer of the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress—Sarah Burton, and Stella McCartney’s equally acclaimed successor at Céline, Phoebe Philo.
To find the McQueens, McCartneys, and Baileys of tomorrow, head for the independent boutiques of the East End and Bermondsey. If anything, London is even better known for its vibrant street fashion than for its high-end designers. Stock up from the stalls at Portobello, Camden, and Spitalfields markets.
Aside from bankrupting yourself, the only problem you may encounter is exhaustion. London’s shopping districts are spread out all over the city, so do as savvy locals do: plan your excursion with military precision, taking in only one or two areas in a day, and stop for a lunch with a glass of wine or a pint at a pub.
Most shops are open from about 9:30 or 10 am to 6 or 6:30 pm. Some may open at 11 and stay open until 7. Because shop hours, particularly for the smaller shops, are varied, it’s a good idea to phone or check websites ahead. Stores that have late shopping—and not all do—are usually open until 7 or 8 pm on Wednesday or Thursday only. Most department stores stay open late one day a week. On Sunday, many shops open between 11 am and noon and close at 5 or 6 pm. Most stores are open on Sunday in December for the Christmas season.
WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE
Locals like to say that Brits and Americans are separated by a common language. Here are a few confusing terms to watch for when out and about in the shops:
Pants means underwear. Every other type of long-legged bottoms (except jeans) are called trousers. Also in the underwear category is the vest (undershirt in the United States); if you are looking for a vest, ask for a waistcoat.
Knickers are ladies’ underwear. If you want pantyhose, ask for tights.
Jumper means sweater—unless it’s a cardigan, in which case it may be shortened to cardie. If you ask for a sweater, you may be offered a sweatshirt.
Men use braces to hold up their trousers; in England suspenders is another word for garters.
If you want some Adidas- or Nike-type athletic shoes, ask for trainers, not sneakers.
Don’t ask for a pocketbook or a purse if you mean a handbag—the former will be incomprehensible, and the latter will produce a coin purse. Ask for a fanny pack and it will produce a laugh—“fanny” means something altogether different in the United Kingdom, so ask for a “bum-bag.”
Nightgowns are usually abbreviated to nighties and bathrobes may be dressing gowns.
A WORD ABOUT SERVICE
American standards of customer service are rare in London—you may find attentive customer service at old-school, traditional names and some independent stores, but salespeople elsewhere can seem abrupt or indifferent.
Know Your Shopping Personality
“Where is the best place to shop in London?” There are thousands of shops in the city, and dozens of neighborhoods worth shopping in. Start by identifying your shopping personality to narrow your choices for a successful outing.
Easygoing. If you want to pop in and out of a variety of shops, as well as avoid the crowds around Oxford Street, head to King’s Road in Chelsea. You’ll find department store Peter Jones, plus Marks & Spencer and plenty of chains and trendy boutiques. Another safe bet is High Street Kensington for the usual big chains, in addition to some smaller ones less oriented toward disposable fashion, such as Cos, Karen Millen, and Oliver Bonas.
Eclectic. If you are looking for well-crafted, original items, start at Liberty on Regent Street, then head to Marylebone to the north, or the warren of cobblestone streets lined with independent shops off Carnaby Street, immediately to the south.
Fashionista. When only the top designers will do, start at the designer boutiques along Sloane Street in Knightsbridge before hopping on bus No. 19 to Green Park. From there you can cover Bond Street (both Old and New) finishing at Fenwick, or veer off onto Conduit Street, designer-heavy Bruton Street, or, at the northwest end of Berkeley Square, ultrachic Mount Street. If you still have time and energy, check out South Molton Street opposite Bond Street Tube or St. Christopher’s Place across Oxford Street.
Funky and Avant-Garde. For cutting-edge fashion and housewares, head to the East End neighborhoods. Start at Columbia Road in Hoxton, with its charming specialty shops (and the Sunday flower market), then wander through Shoreditch, Spitalfields, and Bethnal Green, where you’ll find stores filled with one-of-a-kind designs. There’s also lots here to appeal to vintage hunters.
Whirlwind. If you’re after a one-stop-shopping experience, head to one of the big department stores. Selfridges and Fenwick are near the Bond Street Tube station, Liberty is near Oxford Circus Tube station, while Harvey Nichols and Harrods share the Knightsbridge Tube station.
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St. James’s | Mayfair and Marylebone | Soho and Covent Garden | Bloomsbury, Holborn, Islington, and Fitzrovia | The City | East London | South of the Thames | Kensington, Chelsea, Knightsbridge, and Belgravia | Notting Hill | Regent’s Park and Hampstead | Greater London
Fodor’s Choice | James Lock & Co. Hatters.
Need a silk top hat, a flat-weave Panama, or a traditional tweed flat cap? Or, for ladies, an occasion hat? James Lock of St. James’s has been providing hats from this cozy shop since 1676 for customers ranging from Admiral Lord Nelson, Oscar Wilde, and Frank Sinatra to, more recently, Robert Downey Jr. and Guy Ritchie, as well as trendsetting musicians and models. | 6 St. James’s St., St. James’s | 020/7930-8884 | www.lockhatters.co.uk | Closed Sun. | Station: Green Park.
Fodor’s Choice | Swaine Adeney Brigg.
Providing practical supplies for country pursuits since 1750, Swaine Adeney Brigg, now in new Mayfair premises, carries beautifully crafted umbrellas, walking sticks, and hip flasks, or ingenious combinations, such as the umbrella with a slim tipple-holding flask secreted inside the stem. The same level of quality and craftsmanship applies to the store’s leather goods, which include attaché cases and wallets. You’ll find scarves, caps, and the Herbert Johnson “Poet Hat,” the iconic headgear (stocked since 1890) worn by Harrison Ford in every Indiana Jones film. | 7 Piccadilly Arcade, St. James’s | 020/7409-7277 | www.swaineadeney.co.uk | Closed Sun. | Station: Green Park.
What do Queen Victoria and Marilyn Monroe have in common? They both used fragrances from Floris, one of the most beautiful shops in London, with gleaming glass-and-Spanish-mahogany showcases salvaged from the Great Exhibition of 1851. In addition to scents for both men and women, Floris makes its own shaving products, reflecting its origins as a barbershop. Other gift possibilities include goose-down powder puffs, a famous rose-scented mouthwash, and beautifully packaged soaps and bath essences. There’s another branch in Belgravia. | 89 Jermyn St., St. James’s | 0845/702-3239 | www.florislondon.com | Closed Sun. | Station: Piccadilly Circus, Green Park.
Fodor’s Choice | Hatchards.
This is London’s oldest bookshop, open since 1797 and beloved by writers themselves (customers have included Oscar Wilde, Rudyard Kipling, and Lord Byron). Despite its wood-paneled, “gentleman’s library” atmosphere, and eclectic selection of books, Hatchards is owned by the large Waterstone’s chain. Nevertheless, the shop still retains its period charm, aided by the staff’s old-fashioned helpfulness and expertise. Look for the substantial number of books signed by notable contemporary authors on the well-stocked shelves. | 187 Piccadilly, St. James’s | 020/7439-9921 | www.hatchards.co.uk | Station: Piccadilly Circus.
This specialist chain is best known for its colorful and stylish formal shirts for both men and women, many in such fine fabrics as Sea Island or Egyptian cotton. More casual shirts are for sale as well, along with ties, boxers, pajamas, belts, and other accessories. For women, there are dresses, skirts, jackets, and knitwear. Bespoke shirts for men can be ordered at the Jermyn Street branch. There are other branches in The City, Chelsea, Canary Wharf, St. Pancras International, Waterloo Station, Heathrow, and the Westfield shopping center. | 85 Jermyn St., St. James’s | 020/7930-6364 | www.thomaspink.co.uk | Station: Green Park, Piccadilly Circus.
Turnbull & Asser.
The Jermyn Street store sells luxurious jackets, cashmere sweaters, suits, ties, pajamas, ready-to-wear shirts, and accessories perfect for the billionaire who has everything. The brand is best known for its superb custom-made shirts—as worn by customers ranging from Prince Charles to Woody Allen and every filmic James Bond—that can be ordered at the nearby Bury Street branch. At least 15 separate measurements are taken, and the cloth, woven to the company’s specifications, comes in 1,000 different patterns—the cottons feel as good as silk. The first order must be for a minimum of six shirts, which start from £195 each. There’s another branch in The City. | 71-72 Jermyn St., St. James’s | 020/7808-3000 | www.turnbullandasser.com | Closed Sun. | Station: Green Park.
Fodor’s Choice | Berry Bros. & Rudd.
Nothing matches Berry Bros. & Rudd for rare offerings and a unique shopping experience. A family-run wine business since 1698, “BBR” stores its vintage bottles and casks in vaulted cellars that are more than 300 years old. The in-house wine school offers educational tasting sessions while the dedicated whisky room also has an excellent selection. The shop has a quirky charm and the staff is extremely knowledgeable—and not snooty if you’re on a budget. | 3 St. James’s St., St. James’s | 800/280-2440 | www.bbr.com | Closed Sun. | Station: Green Park.
Fodor’s Choice | Fortnum & Mason.
Although F&M is popularly known as the Queen’s grocer and the impeccably mannered staff still wear traditional tailcoats, its celebrated food hall stocks gifts for all budgets, such as irresistibly packaged luxury foods stamped with the gold “By Appointment” crest for less than £5. Try the teas, preserves (including the unusual rose-petal jelly), condiments, or Gentleman’s Relish (anchovy paste). The store’s famous hampers are always a welcome gift. The gleaming food hall spans two floors and incorporates a sleek wine bar, with the rest of the store devoted to upscale housewares, men and women’s accessories and toiletries, a dedicated candle room, a jewelry department featuring exclusive designs by breakthrough talent, and clothing and toys for children. If you start to flag, break for afternoon tea at the new juice bar or one of the four other restaurants (one’s an indulgent ice-cream parlor)—or a treatment in the Beauty Rooms. There’s another branch at St. Pancras International. | 181 Piccadilly, St. James’s | 020/7734-8040 | www.fortnumandmason.com | Station: Green Park.
London Shopping Steals and Deals
Even at the best of times London has never been known as a budget-shopping destination, and when the pound is strong prices can seem stratospheric. However, whatever the exchange rate, there are still bargains to be had as long as you know where, and when, to look. To get the maximum mileage out of your cash, visit during the widespread biannual sales, which kick off in late June and just after Christmas, and last about a month.
Fashion insiders attend the many sales held throughout the year, from big warehouse clearances, such as the Designer Warehouse Sales (www.designerwarehousesales.com) and Designer Sales UK (designersales.co.uk), to individual designers’ sample sales—check out www.fashionconfidential.co.ukor Time Out (www.timeout.com) for information, and to register for updates. London outlets, such as Browns Labels for Less, Paul Smith Sale Shop, and the Joseph Sale Shop on King’s Road offer year-round designer bargains. If time permits, travel outside London to Bicester Village (www.bicestervillage.com), a luxury outlet mall in Oxfordshire. It’s completely worth the nearly one-hour train journey, if only for the opportunity to score an item from such highly coveted British brands as Alexander McQueen, Temperley, Mulberry, Burberry, and Aquascutum, as well as top international labels.
If you’re not fussy about labels, there are even more choices, including Pokit and Primark.
Paxton & Whitfield.
In business for more than 200 years, this venerable and aromatic London shop stocks hundreds of the world’s greatest artisanal cheeses, particularly British and French varieties (a homesick General de Gaulle shopped here during World War II). The cheeses are laid on straw on refrigerated shelves, with tasting samples set out on a marble-top counter. You can pick up some ham, pâté, condiments, preserves, wine, or port, as well as cheese-related accessories like boards or knives. | 93 Jermyn St., St. James’s | 020/7930-0259 | www.paxtonandwhitfield.co.uk | Closed Sun. | Station: Piccadilly Circus, Green Park.
Long established in England’s Midlands and a provider of boots to the British armed forces in both world wars, this family-run firm specializes in classic handcrafted men’s shoes at reasonable prices. Whether you’re after brogues, loafers, or deck shoes, the staff will take the time to ensure you have the right fit. In terms of quality and service, Loakes represents real value for money. There’s another branch on Bow Street in The City. | 8-10 Princes Arcade, off Jermyn St., St. James’s | 020/7734-8643 | www.loake.co.uk | Closed Sun. | Station: Piccadilly.
Geo F. Trumper.
If you don’t have the time for an old-fashioned hot-towel shave, pick up some accessories to take home for yourself or as a gift. The Extract of West Indian Lime is a popular, zingy aftershave, and the Coconut Oil Hard Shaving Soap, which comes in a hand-turned wooden bowl, is a classic. There is also a store at 9 Curzon Street in Mayfair. | 1 Duke of York St., St. James’s | 020/7734-6553 | www.trumpers.com | Closed Sun. | Station: Piccadilly Circus.
The Armoury of St. James’s.
The fine toy soldiers and military models in stock here are collectors’ items. Painted and mounted knights only 6 inches high can cost up to £1,200 (though figures start at a mere £7.50 for a toy soldier). Besides lead and tin soldiers, the shop has regimental brooches, historic orders and medals, and military antiques. | 17 Piccadilly Arcade, St. James’s | 020/7493-5082 | www.armoury.co.uk | Closed Sun. | Station: Piccadilly Circus.
MAYFAIR AND MARYLEBONE
Staying true to its roots in rural Somerset, this luxury goods company epitomizes le style Anglais, a sophisticated take on the earth tones and practicality of English country style. Best known for highly desirable luxury handbags such as the Alexa and the Bayswater, the company also produces gorgeous leather accessories, from wallets to luggage, as well as shoes and clothing for men and women. Aside from the New Bond Street flagship, there are branches in Knightsbridge and Covent Garden, and Mulberry concessions in most of the major department stores. The small store on St. Christopher’s Place in Marylebone stocks accessories only. | 50 New Bond St., Mayfair | 020/7491-3900 | www.mulberry.com | Station: Bond St.
William & Son.
William Asprey, scion of the jewelry dynasty, has opened his own store with a more friendly, less formal approach to selling carefully chosen, British-made luxury goods. Here’s where you’ll find all sorts of items you didn’t know you needed, like silver-tipped retractable pencils, lizard-skin passport holders, crocodile backgammon sets, or a silver piggy bank. The jewelry is tasteful rather than knock-your-eyes-out and the store encourages requests for custom-made pieces. | 10 Mount St., Mayfair | 020/7493-8385 | www.williamandson.com | Closed weekends | Station: Bond St.
Grays Antique Market.
Open weekdays from 10 to 6 and from 11 to 5 on Saturday (when not all stalls are open), Grays has approximately 200 dealers specializing in everything from Bakelite home wares to Mughal art. The majority focus on jewelry, ranging from contemporary to antique. Bargains are not out of the question, and proper pedigrees are guaranteed. Also try Grays in the Mews around the corner—stalls there sell less expensive merchandise, including antique dolls at Glenda’s and excellent vintage clothing at Vintage Modes. | 58 Davies St., Mayfair | 020/7629-7034 | www.graysantiques.com | Closed Sun. | Station: Bond St.
Books and Stationery
For over 100 years, Dunhill has been synonymous with the most luxurious and sophisticated men’s goods, including accessories, briefcases, and superbly tailored clothes. This Georgian mansion, the mothership (or possibly fathership), also offers a barbershop, men’s spa, humidor, cellar bar, courtyard restaurant, and bespoke services, where you can order custom-fitted menswear or unique versions of the brand’s celebrated leather goods. There’s another branch in St. James’s. | 2 Davies St., Mayfair | 020/7853-4429 | www.dunhill.com | Closed Sun. | Station: Bond St.
Fodor’s Choice | Heywood Hill.
Established for more than 70 years on Curzon Street, and considered by some to be the best small bookstore in the English-speaking world (John Le Carré, who set a scene in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy here, is a long-standing customer), Heywood Hill stocks both new and antiquarian books. Here’s where you can pick up a leather-bound volume on architecture, gardening, natural history, and topography—in which the antiquarian collection specializes. The contemporary selection emphasizes literature, history, biography, travel, architecture, and children’s books. During World War I, author Nancy Mitford helped keep the bookstore going. Today, the descendant of her brother-in-law, the Duke of Devonshire, remains the major stockholder. | 10 Curzon St., Mayfair | 020/7629-0647 | www.heywoodhill.com | Closed Sun. | Station: Green Park.
Maggs Bros. Ltd.
How could any book lover resist a shop with such a deliciously Dickensian name? Located in a Georgian town house in one of Mayfair’s toniest squares, Maggs, established 1853, is one of the world’s oldest and largest rare-book dealers. Shop staff is expert enough to advise important collectors, but is nonetheless friendly and helpful to all interested visitors. Far from being fussy, the store includes a “counterculture” section with works on subversion, extremism, punk, the occult, and more. | 50 Berkeley Sq., Mayfair | 020/7493-7160 | www.maggs.com | Closed weekends | Station: Green Park.
Smythson of Bond Street.
Hands down, this is the most elegant stationer in Britain. No hostess of any standing would consider having a leather-bound guest book made by anyone else, and the shop’s distinctive pale-blue-page diaries and social stationery are thoroughly British. Diaries, stationery, and small leather goods can be personalized. Smythson also produces a small range of leather handbags and purses. You’ll find other branches in Chelsea, Notting Hill, and the City. | 40 New Bond St., Mayfair | 020/7629-8558 | www.smythson.com | Station: Bond St., Oxford Circus.
At this mega-bookshop (Europe’s largest) located in a former art deco department store near Piccadilly Circus, browse through your latest purchase or admire the view with a glass of wine or a snack at the 5th View Bar and Food, which is open until 9. Waterstone’s is the country’s leading book chain, and they’ve pulled out all the stops to make their flagship as comfortable and welcoming as a bookstore can be. There are several smaller branches located throughout the city. | 203-206 Piccadilly, Mayfair | 0207/851-2400 | www.waterstones.com | Station: Piccadilly Circus.
For years purveyors of Britain’s coolest motorcycle leathers, Belstaff has expanded into dresses, skirts, and handbags, as well as knitwear, boots, tops, and trousers for both men and women, all reflecting the brand’s functional but unconventional heritage (previous customers include Lawrence of Arabia, Amelia Earhart, and Che Guevara). Outerwear in general and leather jackets in particular remain a strength. | 135-137 New Bond St., Mayfair | 020/7495-5897 | www.belstaff.co.uk | Station: Bond St.
Known for its trademark tartan, this company has cultivated an edgy, high-fashion image in recent years, with designs like fetish-y boots and sexy leather jackets perfect for any catwalk. The raincoats are still a classic buy, along with plaid scarves in every color imaginable and handbags. If you’re up for a trek, there’s a huge factory outlet in Hackney on Chatham Place that has clothes and accessories for men, women, and children at half price or less. There are also branches in Mayfair, Knightsbridge, and Covent Garden, in addition to this spectacular flagship store. | 121 Regent St., Mayfair | 020/7806-8904 | uk.burberry.com | Station: Piccadilly Circus.
Fodor’s Choice | Dover Street Market.
Visiting this six-floor emporium isn’t just about buying; with its creative displays and eclectic, well-chosen mix of merchandise, it’s as much art installation as store. The creation of Comme des Garçons’ Rei Kawakubo, it showcases all of the label’s collections for men and women alongside a changing roster of other designers including Peter Piloto, Alexander Wang, and Givenchy—all of whom have their own customized mini-boutiques—plus avant-garde art books, vintage couture, and curiosities such as antique plaster anatomy models. With merchandize and configuration changing every six months, you never know what you will find, which is half the fun. TIP An outpost of the Rose Bakery on the top floor makes for a yummy break. | 17-18 Dover St.,Mayfair | 020/7518-0680 | www.doverstreetmarket.com | Closed Sun. | Station: Green Park.
Fodor’s Choice | Isabel Marant London.
The first London store from of-the-moment designer Marant, a favorite of French fashion editors, this airy skylighted space is full of her signature skinny jeans, slouchy knits, wedge sneakers, and rock-chick miniskirts, all exuding Left Bank boho cool. | 29 Bruton St., Mayfair | 020/7499-7887 | www.isabelmarant.com | Closed Sun. | Station: Bond St.
Think of Victorian and you think of corsets and frock coats—but did you know that in 1823 a Glaswegian chemist named Mackintosh was able to interweave rubber with cloth, thus creating the modern rubberized raincoat (then used for horse-riding). It was so popular that the brand name has become synonymous with the item. This byword for tradition has now been revitalized with designs that infuse the label’s classic outerwear with contemporary zing. | 104 Mount St., Mayfair | 020/7493-4678 | www.mackintosh.com | Closed Sun. | Station: Bond St.
Gieves and Hawkes.
One of the grand men’s tailoring houses of Savile Row, this company made its name outfitting British Royals who served as officers in the armed forces and they still supply custom-made military uniforms, as well as beautifully tailored civilian wear. Prices for a bespoke suit start around £3,800 but there are also off-the-peg designs starting at around £600. There’s also a branch in The City. | 1 Savile Row, Mayfair | 020/7432-6403 | www.gievesandhawkes.com | Station: Piccadilly Circus.
The dapper menswear by Ozwald Boateng (pronounced Bwa-teng) combines contemporary funky style with traditional Savile Row quality. His made-to-measure suits have been worn by trendsetters such as Jamie Foxx, Mick Jagger, and Laurence Fishburne, who appreciate the sharp cuts, luxurious fabrics, and occasionally vibrant colors (even the more conservative choices sport jacket linings in bright silk). | 30 Savile Row, Mayfair | 020/7437-2030 | www.ozwaldboateng.co.uk | Closed Sun. | Station: Piccadilly Circus.
Clothing: Women’s Wear
Since McQueen’s untimely death in 2010, his right-hand woman Sarah Burton has been at the helm, receiving raves for continuing his tradition of theatrical, darkly romantic, and beautifully cut clothes incorporating corsetry, lace, embroidery, and hourglass silhouettes, all of which were exemplified in Burton’s celebrated wedding dress for Kate Middleton. Can’t afford a gala gown? Go home with a skull-printed scarf. | 4-5 Old Bond St., Mayfair | 020/7355-0088 | www.alexandermcqueen.com | Station: Bond St.
This shop—actually a collection of small shops—was a pioneer designer boutique in the 1970s and continues to talent-spot the newest and best around. You may find the windows showcasing the work of top graduates from this year’s student shows or displaying well-established designers such as Erdem, Dries Van Noten, or Balenciaga. The men’s store at No. 23 has a similar designer selection, while Browns Focus at No. 24 showcases youthful, hip designs and denim. There is a smaller boutique on Sloane Street and if you’re about to go down the aisle, check out the two bridal boutiques; one at 12 Hinde Street, which stocks various designers, and another at 59 Brook Street devoted to Vera Wang gowns exclusive to Browns in the United Kingdom. | 24-27 S. Molton St.,Mayfair | 020/7514-0016 | www.brownsfashion.com | Closed Sun. | Station: Bond St.
Fodor’s Choice | Fenwick.
A manageably sized department store, Fenwick is a welcome haven of affordability in a shopping area where stratospheric prices are the norm. The store is particularly strong on accessories (notably lingerie, wraps, and hats), cosmetics, perfumes, and chic, wearable fashion by both established and emerging designers such as Issa, Goat, and Theory. There are also three small spas (Chantecaille, Clarins, and Pure Massage), a nail bar, a brow bar, and a restaurant, plus a men’s department in the basement. | 163 New Bond St., Mayfair | 020/7629-9161 | www.fenwick.co.uk | Station: Bond St.
Sinuous, feminine, and floaty, Williamson’s designs, often incorporating bright prints and embellishment, are the epitome of rich-hippie chic, and are favorites with such well-heeled free spirits as Kate Moss and Sienna Miller. Even if you can’t manage to get to a beach party on Ibiza, a Williamson dress will put you in the spirit. | 28 Bruton St., Mayfair | 020/7629-6200 | www.matthewwilliamson.com | Closed Sun. | Station: Bond St.
Busy working women who value unfussy quality invest in Farhi’s softly tailored yet functional dresses and separates, and her contemporary yet timeless styles are wardrobe staples. This flagship Conduit Street store sells clothes for both men and women as well as shoes and home ware. There are also branches in Covent Garden, Fulham, and Hampstead. | 25 Conduit St., Mayfair | 020/7499-8368 | www.nicolefarhi.com | Station: Bond St.
It’s not easy emerging from the shadow of a Beatle father, but Stella McCartney has become a major force in fashion in her own right. Her signature jumpsuits and tuxedo pantsuits embody her design philosophy, combining minimalist tailoring with femininity and sophistication with ease of wear. Her love of functionality and clean lines has led to her branching off into sportswear, designing a line for Adidas and dressing Team GB for the London Olympics. A vegetarian like her parents, she refuses to use fur or leather, making her a favorite with ethical fashionistas. There’s another boutique in South Kensington. | 30 Bruton St., Mayfair | 020/7518-3100 | www.stellamccartney.com | Station: Bond St.
From beginnings as the most shocking and outré designer around, Westwood (now Dame Vivienne) has become a standard bearer for high-style British couture. The Chelsea boutique is where it all started: the lavish corseted ball gowns, the dandified nipped-waist jackets, and the tartan with a punk edge that formed the core of her signature look. Here you can still buy ready-to-wear, mainly the more casual Anglomania diffusion line and the exclusive Worlds End label based on the archives. The small Davies Street boutique sells only the more exclusive, expensive Gold Label and Couture collections (plus bridal), while the flagship Conduit Street store carries all of the above. | 44 Conduit St., Mayfair | 020/7439-1109 | www.viviennewestwood.co.uk | Closed Sun. | Station:Oxford Circus.
This spacious luxury housewares shop has been at the same smart Mayfair address since 1845. The china, silver, crystal, and linen, whether from the store’s own line or from luxury brands like Christofle and Puiforcat, are simply the best that money can buy, a legacy of its original customer base of international royals and heads of state. The store still holds two royal warrants, but anyone who can afford it can commission their own bespoke set of china. TIP If such luxury is beyond you, visit anyway for the shop’s small museum of plates, either antique or designed for royalty, including some created for Princess Diana’s wedding. | 19 S. Audley St., Mayfair | 020/7499-2823 | www.thomasgoode.co.uk | Station: Green Park.
Charbonnel et Walker.
Established in 1875, this master chocolatier’s Mayfair shop specializes in traditional handmade chocolates (violet and rose-petal creams, for example) and has been creating these beautifully packaged, high-quality sweets from long before most of today’s fashionable brands appeared. TIP Their drinking chocolate—coarsely grated fine chocolate in a tin—is worth carrying home in a suitcase. | The Royal Arcade, 28 Old Bond St., Mayfair | 020/7491-0939 | www.charbonnel.co.uk | Closed Sun. | Station: Green Park.
Fodor’s Choice | Asprey.
Created by architect Norman Foster and interior designer David Mlinaric, this “global flagship” store displays exquisite jewelry—as well as silver and leather goods, watches, china, and crystal—in a discreet, very British setting that oozes quality, expensive good taste, and hushed comfort. If you’re in the market for an immaculate 1930s cigarette case, a silver cocktail shaker, a pair of pavé diamond and sapphire earrings, or a ladylike handbag, you won’t be disappointed. And, for the really well-heeled, there’s a custom-made jewelry service available as well. | 167 New Bond St.,Mayfair | 020/7493-6767 | www.asprey.com | Closed Sun. | Station: Green Park.
Formally known as “Garrard, the Crown Jeweler,” this company has been creating royal crowns since Queen Victoria’s reign (you can see several on display in the Tower of London). Today the focus is on precious gems in simple, classic settings, along with silver accessories. Although some collections are definitely contemporary with items like minimalist hoop earrings, many of the designs are traditional and impressive, should you be in the market for an old-school diamond tiara. | 24 Albemarle St., Mayfair | 0870/871-8888 | www.garrard.com | Closed Sun. | Station: Green Park.
Fodor’s Choice | Nicholas Kirkwood.
Kirkwood is one of Britain’s most fashionable shoe designers and this is his first retail boutique. You won’t be able to hike in his imaginative, elegant, sky-high stilettos (be warned: prices are similarly high), but you will be able to make quite an entrance. There are also more wearable shoes that are equally flattering and distinctive. | 5 Mount St., Mayfair | 020/7290-1404 | www.nicholaskirkwood.com | Closed Sun. | Station: Green Park.
Fodor’s Choice | Rupert Sanderson.
Designed in London and made in Italy, Sanderson’s elegant shoes have been a huge hit in fashion circles. Red-carpet-ready high heels as worn by Claire Danes and Sandra Bullock, bright colors, tough motorcycle boots, and a penchant for peep toes are signature elements. Prices reflect the impeccable craftsmanship. | 19 Bruton Pl., Mayfair | 0207/491-2260 | www.rupertsanderson.com | Closed Sun. | Station: Bond St., Green Park.
Alfie’s Antique Market.
This four-story, bohemian-chic labyrinth is London’s largest indoor antiques market, housing dealers specializing in art, lighting, glassware, textiles, jewelry, furniture, and collectibles, with a particular strength in vintage clothing and 20th-century design. Come here to pick up vintage (1900-70) clothing, accessories, and luggage from Tin Tin Collectables, mid-20th-century furniture at Decoratum that will make you feel like you’ve stepped into the set of Mad Men, or a spectacular mid-20th-century Italian lighting fixture at Vincenzo Caffarrella. There’s also a rooftop restaurant if you need a coffee break. In addition to the market, this end of Church Street is lined with excellent antiques shops. | 13-25 Church St., Marylebone | 020/7723-6066 | www.alfiesantiques.com | Closed Sun. and Mon. | Station: Marylebone.
Aficionados of hard-to-find cult beauty products flock to this upscale chain that now has more than 20 locations throughout London. The minute you step inside, you’re surrounded by luxurious and sought-after cosmetic and skincare brands like Lipstick Queen, Chantecaille, Caudalie, and Serge Lutens, along with fragrances by the likes of Acqua di Parma and hair products by Frederic Fekkai. The helpful staff is happy to offer knowledgeable advice. The Notting Hill branch also offers spa treatments, while men have a branch of their own in Soho. | 83a Marylebone High St.,Marylebone | 020/7486-8791 | uk.spacenk.com | Station: Baker St.
An independent bookstore chain (there are additional branches in Belsize Park, Chelsea, Hampstead, Holland Park, and Cheapside), Daunt favors a thoughtful selection of contemporary and classic fiction and nonfiction over self-help books and ghost-written celebrity “autobiographies.” The striking Marylebone branch is an original Edwardian bookstore where a dramatic room lined with oak galleries under lofty skylights houses the noted travel section, which includes not only guidebooks but also related literature and poetry. The Hampstead branch is strong on children’s books. | 83 Marylebone High St., Marylebone | 020/7224-2295 | www.dauntbooks.co.uk | Station: Baker St.
Here’s where you’ll find fun and funky casual plates, mugs, jugs, and breakfast tableware embellished with polka dots, hens, hearts and flowers, amusing mottoes, or matter-of-fact labels (sugar or coffee). There’s another branch in Fulham. | 81a Marylebone High St., Marylebone | 020/7486-6897 | www.emmabridgewater.co.uk | Station: Regent’s Park.
These quintessentially English clothes are understated yet manage to look utterly contemporary. Howell mixes impeccable British tailoring and traditional fabrics (linen, cashmere, and tweed) with relaxed modern cuts. A fan of 20th-century household design, the designer also showcases vintage Ercol furniture in her Wigmore Street boutique. There is another branch in Fulham. | 34 Wigmore St., Marylebone | 020/7009-9006 | www.margarethowell.co.uk | Station: Bond St.
The rising British designers featured in this carefully curated boutique include Christopher Kane, Charlotte Olympia, Issa, and Richard Nicholl, as well as more-established figures like McCartney and McQueen and international labels such as J Brand, Acne, Bottega Veneta, Lanvin, and Chloe. There’s also an equally stylish menswear department, plus jewelry, lingerie, and accessories. Other branches are in Notting Hill and southwest London. | 87 Marylebone High St., Marylebone | 020/7487-5400 | www.matchesfashion.com | Station: Regent’s Park, Baker St.
Marks & Spencer.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a Brit who doesn’t have something in the closet from Marks & Spencer (or “M&S,” as it’s popularly known). This major chain is famed for its classic, dependable clothing for men, women, and children—affordable cashmere and lambs-wool sweaters are particularly good buys—and occasionally scores a fashion hit. The food department at M&S is consistently good, especially for frozen food, and a great place to pick up a sandwich or premade salad on the go (look for M&S Simply Food stores all over town). The flagship branch at Marble Arch and the Pantheon location at 173 Oxford Street have extensive fashion departments. | 458 Oxford St., Marylebone | 020/7935-7954 | www.marksandspencer.com | Station: Marble Arch.
Fodor’s Choice | Selfridges.
This giant, bustling store (the second largest in the United Kingdom after Harrods) gives Harvey Nichols a run for its money as London’s most fashionable department store. Packed to the rafters with clothes ranging from mid-price lines to the latest catwalk names, the store continues to break ground with its innovative retail schemes, especially the high-fashion Superbrands section, the ground-floor Wonder Room showcasing extravagant jewelry and luxury gifts, the self-contained Louis Vuitton town house, an array of pop-up shops, and the Concept Store, which features a rotating series of themed displays. There are so many zones that merge into one another—from youth-oriented Miss Selfridge to audio equipment to the large, comprehensive cosmetics department—that you practically need a map. Don’t miss the Shoe Galleries, the world’s largest shoe department filled with more than 5,000 pairs from 120 brands, displayed like works of art under spotlights. TIP Take a break with a glass of wine from the Wonder Bar, or pick up some rare tea in the Food Hall as a gift. | 400 Oxford St., Marylebone | 0800/123-400 | www.selfridges.com | Station: Bond St.
Fodor’s Choice | The Button Queen.
This store is one of the small, comprehensive, niche shops that made London so distinctive but which are now disappearing. It began life as a market stall in the 1950s and now has a vast selection of buttons, from antique to modern, encompassing an array of styles and price points. You can also have a set made using fabric you supply. | 76 Marylebone La., Marylebone | 020/7935-1505 | www.thebuttonqueen.co.uk | Closed Sun. | Station: Oxford Circus.
A dazzling array of exciting contemporary jewelry by emerging and established designers from around the world is packed into this small shop. There is something to suit most budgets and tastes, from flamboyant statement pieces to subtle, delicate adornment. Look out for British talent Johanne Mills, among many others. There’s another branch in Chelsea. | 37 Marylebone High St.,Marylebone | 020/7317-2150 | www.kabiri.co.uk | Station: Baker St.
SOHO AND COVENT GARDEN
Fodor’s Choice | Peckham Rye.
On the small cobblestone streets leading off Carnaby Street you’ll find small specialist boutiques such as Peckham Rye, a tiny shop showcasing heritage-style men’s accessories—handmade silk and twill ties, bow ties, and scarves, all using traditional patterns from the archives of this family-run business that go back to 1799. More Ralph Lauren than Ralph Lauren, the socks, striped shirts, and handkerchiefs attract modern-day Beau Brummels such as Mark Ronson and David Beckham. | 11 Newburgh St., Soho | 0207/734-5181 | www.peckhamrye.com | Station: Oxford St.
Fodor’s Choice | Foyles.
Founded in 1903 by the Foyle brothers after they failed the Civil Service exam, this family-owned store, recently relocated into this historic 1930s art deco building, carries almost every title imaginable. One of London’s best sources for textbooks, Foyles also stocks everything from popular fiction to military history, sheet music, medical tomes, graphic novels, and handsome illustrated fine arts books. It also offers the store-within-a-store Ray’s Jazz (one of London’s better outlets for music) and a cool café. Foyles has branches in the Southbank Centre, St. Pancras International train station (the Eurostar’s U.K. terminus), and the Westfield shopping centers in Shepherd’s Bush and Stratford. | 107-109 Charing Cross Rd., Soho | 020/7437-5660 | www.foyles.co.uk | Station: Tottenham Court Rd.
Aimed at men and women in search of stylish cool, this independent boutique stocks its own brand of entirely made-in-England clothing, as well as accessories, housewares, books, and clothing from other carefully selected brands such as b store, Opening Ceremony, Sophie Hulme, and Peter Jensen. The look is understated, slightly geeky, and totally contemporary. | 21 Kingly St., Soho | 020/7734-6846 | www.other-shop.com | Station: Oxford Circus.
Sharp but comfortable made-to-measure suits for men and women start from just £800 (jackets £500) at this contemporary tailor shop. It also has a wide range of leather goods. | 132 Wardour St.,Soho | 020/7434-2875 | www.pokit.co.uk | Station: Oxford Circus.
Fantastic for low-cost, trendy clothing, this is Primark’s huge, two-story flagship (there are other branches in Hammersmith and Kilburn). But keep in mind, you get what you pay for: some of the fabrics and finishes reflect the store’s budget prices and its labor practices have attracted criticism. This is the home of fast, youthful, disposable fashion, so don’t expect attentive service or classic styling and you won’t be disappointed. | 499-517 Oxford St., Soho | 020/7495-0420 | www.primark.co.uk | Station: Marble Arch.
Clothing: Women’s Wear
Specializing in men’s knitwear since 1755, Wolsey now sells rugged but stylish outerwear, sweaters, shirts, hats, scarves, socks, T-shirts, sweatshirts, and underwear (as worn by both Roald Amundsen and Captain Robert Scott on their race to the South Pole). There’s another branch in Covent Garden. | 83 Brewer St., Soho | 020/7434-4257 | www.wolsey.com | Station: Piccadilly Circus.
Fodor’s Choice | Liberty.
The wonderful black-and-white mock-Tudor facade, created from the timber of two Royal Navy ships, reflects this store’s origins in the late-19th-century Arts and Crafts movement. Leading designers were recruited to create the classic art nouveau Liberty prints that are still a centerpiece of the brand, gracing everything from cushions and silk kimonos to embossed leather bags and photo albums. Inside, Liberty is a labyrinth of nooks and crannies stuffed with thoughtfully chosen merchandise. Clothes for both men and women focus on high quality and high fashion with labels like Helmut Lang and Marc by Marc Jacobs. The store regularly commissions new prints from contemporary designers, and sells both these and its archival patterns by the yard. If you’re not so handy with a needle, an interior design service will create soft furnishings for you. | Regent St., Soho | 020/7734-1234 | www.liberty.co.uk | Station: Oxford Circus.
Fodor’s Choice | The Vintage House.
If whisky is more to your taste than wine, visit the Vintage House, which has the country’s largest selection of single malts (more than 1,400), many notable for their age. The shop is open late—to 11 pm most nights. | 42 Old Compton St., Soho | 020/7437-2592 | freespace.virgin.net/vintagehouse.co | Station: Leicester Sq.
House, drum ’n’ bass, electro, dubstep—this shop (formerly Black Market Records) is London’s longest-established dance music store and stocks the hottest club music around. They carry some CDs, but this is really a shop for vinyl lovers. | 25 D’Arblay St., Soho | 020/7437-0478 | www.bm-soho.com | Station: Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Rd.
If you want to blend in with the crowd, these shoes are not for you. But if you like footwear that is fun and flattering (not to mention reasonably priced), head for Irregular Choice. Styles tend towards Louis XIV-like court shoes ornamented with ribbon ties or silk flowers; pumps in interesting patterns ranging from polka dots to houndstooth; as well as bejeweled flats, leopard-print boots, and red patent-leather stilettos. Best of all, many have round toes and supportive heels, proving that comfortable doesn’t have to be dull. There’s another branch in Shoreditch. | 35 Carnaby St., Soho | 020/7494-4811 | www.irregularchoice.com | Station: Oxford Circus.
FAMILY | Hamleys.
Besieged by pester power? Don’t worry, help is at hand—this London institution has six floors of the latest dolls, soft toys, video games, and technological devices (plus such old-fashioned pleasures as train sets, drum kits, and magic tricks), with every must-have on the pre-teen shopping list. Some may find the offerings to be overly commercialized (it’s heavy on movie and TV tie-ins), and the store only got rid of its separate pink and blue floors for girls and boys in 2011 after a protest campaign. Nevertheless, when British children visit London, Hamleys is at the top of their agenda. It’s a madhouse at Christmastime, but Santa’s grotto is one of the best in town. There’s a smaller branch in St. Pancras International train station. | 188-196 Regent St., Soho | 0871/704-1977 | www.hamleys.com | Station: Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus.
Books and Prints
London’s largest collection of 17th- to-early 20th-century prints emphasizes views of the city and architecture as well as sporting and decorative motifs. The selection is eclectic, with prices ranging from £5 into the thousands. | 19 Shelton St., Covent Garden | 020/7836-1979 | www.grosvenorprints.com | Closed Sun. | Station: Covent Garden, Leicester Sq.
Fodor’s Choice | Stanfords.
When it comes to encyclopedic coverage, there is simply no better travel shop on the planet. Stanfords is packed with a comprehensive selection of maps, travel books, travel gadgets, globes, notebooks, replicas of antique maps, and more. Even the floor is decorated with giant maps. Whether you’re planning a day trip to Surrey or an adventure to the South Pole, this should be your first stop. | 12-14 Long Acre, Covent Garden | 020/7836-1321 | www.stanfords.co.uk | Station: Covent Garden.
This Irish designer is probably best known for her appealingly simple retro-tinged prints (based on everyday objects like cars and mugs or more abstract designs), which appear on everything from dresses and raincoats to lampshades, diaries, towels, sheets, kitchenware, and wallpapers. They’re all showcased in this airy flagship store (there’s another branch on King’s Road in Chelsea). | 31 Monmouth St., Covent Garden | 020/7240-4022 | www.orlakiely.com | Station: Covent Garden.
British classics with an irreverent twist define Paul Smith’s collections for women, men, and children. Beautifully tailored suits for men and women take hallmarks of traditional British style and turn them on their heads with humor and color, combining exceptional fabrics with flamboyant linings or unusual detailing. Gift ideas abound—wallets, scarves, diaries, spectacles, even a soccer ball—all in Smith’s signature rainbow stripes. There are several branches throughout London, in Notting Hill, Soho, and Borough Market, plus a Mayfair shop that includes vintage furniture and a shoes-and-accessories shop on Marylebone High Street. | 40-44 Floral St., Covent Garden | 020/7379-7133 | www.paulsmith.co.uk | Station: Covent Garden.
The Office chain’s more glamorous sibling, this boudoir-styled boutique features fashion-forward but wearable styles from some 40 brands including Stella McCartney, Acne, and Miu Miu. Casual alternatives such as Vivienne Westwood rubber booties and Converse sneakers are also available, and prices are not eye-watering. There’s a branch devoted to men’s designer shoes at 10 South Molton Street in Mayfair. | 61-63 Monmouth St., Covent Garden | 020/7379-4040 | www.office.co.uk | Station: Covent Garden.
Fodor’s Choice | Tabio.
For everything hosiery—knee socks, ankle socks, leggings, leg warmers, pantyhose, tights—this is the place. Patterns range from simple and elegant to lively and attention-getting and come in a wide assortment of weights, but all are functional without being boring. There’s another branch on King’s Road in Chelsea. | 66 Neal St., Covent Garden | 020/7836-3713 | www.tabio.com | Station: Covent Garden.
Fodor’s Choice | United Nude.
Co-created by noted architect Rem D Koolhaas (who also designed this Covent Garden flagship store) and Galahad Clark (of the Clark’s shoes dynasty), these distinctive, futuristic designs that use up-to-the-minute techniques such as carbon fiber heels and injection-molded soles are flattering and surprisingly comfortable. There’s another Covent Garden branch on Neal Street and one on Regent Street. | 13 Floral St., Covent Garden | 0207/240-7106 | www.unitednude.com | Station: Covent Garden.
If you love chintz and colorful patterns, you’ll love Cath Kidston’s bright feminine signature look. Textiles bearing ginghams, polka dots, and lots of big, blooming roses are pasted over everything in sight, from ceramics and bed linens to fine china, stationery, and doggie beds. There are clothing and nightwear lines for women and children, along with handbags, totes, and cosmetic bags. Branches can be found throughout the city, including ones in Chelsea, Marylebone, Notting Hill, and a new flagship store on Piccadilly. | 28-32 Shelton St., Covent Garden | 020/7240-8324 | www.cathkidston.co.uk | Station: Covent Garden.
Bring a Bit of England Home
To avoid panic-buying a bulk pack of Cadbury chocolate at Heathrow, it’s wise to plan your gift purchasing with care.
For a well-chosen, eclectic selection, unique department store Liberty is hard to beat—here you’ll find everything from exquisite Miller Harris fragrances by British perfumer Lyn Harris to small leather goods embossed with the famous Liberty prints.
Fortnum & Mason has equally carefully curated, though perhaps more sedate, offerings, such as leather-covered hip flasks and model boats with Union Jack sails. The big attraction here is the world-famous food hall with its beautifully packaged cookies, teas, and unusual condiments. A. Gold is another source of British-made treats.
Looking for a gift for the hard-to-shop-for man in your life? Consider some traditional shaving cream from Geo. F. Trumper.
The museum shops are also bursting with original gift ideas, from art books and posters at Tate Modern or the Fashion Museum to double-decker bus models and Tube-map mouse pads at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden.
Covent Garden is actually three markets. Forty stalls selling jewelry, clothes, pottery, and other unique handcrafted items congregate in the covered area, originally designed by Inigo Jones, known as the Apple Market. The Jubilee Market, in Jubilee Hall toward Southampton Street, tends toward the more pedestrian (kitschy T-shirts, unremarkable household goods, and the like) on Tuesday through Friday, but offers a selection of vintage collectibles on Monday and worthwhile handmade goods on weekends. The East Colonnade market specializes in handmade items ranging from soaps to leather goods and children’s clothing, while the surrounding arcades house upscale chains (including the world’s largest Apple Store). Covent Garden is something of a tourist magnet, which may be reflected in the prices, but don’t miss the magicians, musicians, and escape artists who perform in the open-air piazza. Covent Garden has recently started aiming for a more sophisticated image with the opening of upscale restaurants and boutiques for rarified brands like Dior, Aesop, Sophia Webster, Sandro, and Yohji Yamamoto. | The Piazza, off Wellington St.,Covent Garden | www.coventgardenlondonuk.com | Station: Covent Garden.
FAMILY | Fodor’s Choice | Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop.
This landmark shop still carries on the tradition of its eponymous founder, who sold miniature theater stages made from richly detailed paper from the late-19th century until his death in 1937. Among his admirers was Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote, “If you love art, folly, or the bright eyes of children, speed to Pollock’s.” Today the antique model theaters tend to be expensive, but there are plenty of magical reproductions for under 10 pounds. There’s also an extensive selection of new but nostalgic puppets, marionettes, teddy bears, spinning tops, jack-in-the-boxes, and similar traditional children’s toys from the days before batteries were required. | 44 The Market, Covent Garden | 020/7379-7866 | www.pollocks-coventgarden.co.uk | Station: Covent Garden.
BLOOMSBURY, HOLBORN, ISLINGTON, AND FITZROVIA
Fodor’s Choice | James Smith & Sons Ltd.
This has to be the world’s ultimate umbrella shop, and a must for anyone interested in real Victorian London. The family-owned shop has been in this location on a corner of New Oxford Street since 1857, and sells every kind of umbrella, cane, and walking stick imaginable. The interior is unchanged since the 19th century; you will feel as if you have stepped back in time. If the umbrellas are out of your price range, James Smith also sells smaller accessories and handmade wooden bowls. | Hazelwood House, 53 New Oxford St., Bloomsbury | 020/7836-4731 | www.james-smith.co.uk | Closed Sun. | Station: Tottenham Court Rd., Holborn.
Gay’s the Word.
Open since 1979, this is London’s leading gay and lesbian bookshop. Thousands of titles, from literature and thoughtful nonfiction to erotica and pro-diversity children’s books, fill the shelves. The shop is a well-loved fixture on the scene and often hosts discussion groups, readings, and other events. | 66 Marchmont St., Bloomsbury | 020/7278-7654 | www.gaystheword.co.uk | Station:Russell Sq.
A must for all lovers of women’s fiction and nonfiction, Persephone is a gem of a bookshop specializing in reprints of mostly neglected 20th-century works from predominately female writers. Exquisitely decorated endpapers make these books perfect gifts for your bibliophile friends. | 59 Lamb’s Conduit St., Bloomsbury | 020/7242-9292 | www.persephonebooks.co.uk | Closed Sun. | Station: Russell Sq., Holborn.
This unique shop near the British Museum specializes in rubber stamps, with everything from businesslike “Paid” stamps to Alice in Wonderland characters, Egyptian gods, VW Beetles, flying saucers, and more. Get a custom-made personal stamp—a great gift for a young person—or bring back an iconic double-decker bus stamp as a souvenir. | 12 Bury Pl., Bloomsbury | 020/7831-4123 | www.bladerubber.co.uk | Station: Holborn.
Fodor’s Choice | London Silver Vaults.
Housed in a basement vault, this extraordinary space holds stalls from more than 30 silver dealers. Products range from the spectacularly over-the-top costing thousands to smaller items—like teaspoons, candlesticks, or a set of Victorian cake forks—starting at £25. TIP Most of the silver merchants actually trade out of room-size, underground vaults, which were originally rented out to London’s upper crust to store their valuables. | 53-64 Chancery La., Holborn | 020/7242-3844 | www.thesilvervaults.com | Closed Sat. after 1 and Sun. | Station: Chancery La.
Fodor’s Choice | TwentyTwentyOne.
The best in modern and vintage furniture is showcased here. There are design classics like a chaise longue from Le Corbusier, as well as curvy daybeds from designer Jacob Pringiers. The kids’ range is particularly cool, with items like the classic elephant sculpture/toy from husband-and-wife design team Charles and Ray Eames. Small accessories like tote bags and cushions will easily fit into your luggage. There’s another branch in The City. | 274-275 Upper St., Islington | 020/7288-1996 | www.twentytwentyone.com | Station: Highbury & Islington.
With an in-house design team whose experience includes stints at Gucci and Calvin Klein and customers like Beyoncé and the Duchess of Cambridge, who wore a Reiss dress for her official engagement picture, this hot chain brings luxury standards of tailoring and details to mass-market women- and menswear. The sleek and contemporary style is not cheap, but does offer value for money. There are branches in Knightsbridge, The City, Covent Garden, Chelsea, Hampstead, Islington, Soho, Kensington, and basically all over London. | 10 Barrett St., Fitzrovia | 020/7486-6557 | www.reiss.com | Station: Oxford St.
A hot spot for straight-from-the-runway affordable fashion, Topshop is destination shopping for teenagers and fashion editors alike. Clothes and accessories are geared to the youthful end of the market, although women who are young at heart and girlish of figure can find plenty of wearable items here. However, you will need a high tolerance for loud music and busy dressing rooms. The store also features collections designed by a rotating roster of high-end designers as well as offering its own premium designer line called Topshop Unique. Topman brings the same fast-fashion approach to clothing for men. TIP If the crowds become too much, head to one of the smaller Topshops in Kensington High Street, Knightsbridge, Victoria, Marble Arch, or Holborn. | 216 Oxford St., Fitzrovia | 0844/848-7487 | www.topshop.com | Station: Oxford Circus.
The Camden Markets.
Grouped around two locks on the Regent’s Canal, Camden Lock Market proper began in the early 1970s, when weekend stalls sold the output of nearby craft workshops. Today the markets host more than 1000 stalls offering a spectacular array of merchandise ranging from vintage and new clothes to antiques and junk, rare vinyl, ceramics, Indian bedspreads, fetishwear, obscure band memorabilia, and toys.
The markets on Camden High Street (both the outdoor Camden Market and the indoor Electric Ballroom) mainly sell cheap jeans, secondhand clothes, and tacky pop-culture paraphernalia; it’s best to head to Camden Lock Market for crafts and the Stables Market for furniture. The recently renovated Camden Lock Village (formerly the Canal Market) has more that 500 shop units, many specializing in vintage wear, plus street-food stalls. Though much of the merchandise is youth-oriented, aging hippies, street-fashion aficionados, and anyone with a taste for alternative culture (Goths are particularly well catered for) will also find plenty that appeals. This shopping experience is best suited to those who don’t mind large crowds and a boisterous atmosphere, especially on weekends. Camden Market, Camden Lock Market, Camden Lock Village, and Stables Market are open daily (9:30 or 10 until 6); The Electric Ballroom Market is Sunday only (9-5). | Camden High St.-Chalk Farm Rd., Camden Town | www.camdenlock.net | Station: Camden Town, Chalk Farm.
Fodor’s Choice | Lesley Craze Gallery.
This serene gallery displays unique pieces by some 100 innovative designers from around the world (with a strong British bias). A textiles room showcases colorful handmade scarves. Prices start at £45. | 33-35A Clerkenwell Green, Clerkenwell | 020/7608-0393 | www.lesleycrazegallery.co.uk | Closed Sun.; closed Mon. Jan.-Oct. | Station: Farringdon.
Fodor’s Choice | Bernstock Speirs.
Here since 1982, Paul Bernstock and Thelma Speirs turn traditional hats for men and women on their head: street-smart trilbies, whimsical baseball caps (with rabbit ears), and knitted hats that feature unusual colors and quirky details. | 234 Brick La., Spitalfields | 020/7739-7385 | www.bernstockspeirs.com | Station: London Overground: Shoreditch High St.
This is a warehouse of handpicked items from the 1930s through the 1980s, but the specialty here is shoes and bags. The shop has the largest collection of vintage shoes in the United Kingdom—more than 1,000 pairs—and, best of all, prices are reasonable. There’s another branch on Berwick Street in Soho. | 15 Hanbury St., Spitalfields | 020/7274-3883 | www.absolutevintage.co.uk | Station: London Overground: Shoreditch High St.
Some people regard b Store as the best small clothing boutique in London. Head here for cutting-edge pieces from avant-garde designers such as Sophie Hume, plus the store’s quirky own-label shoes, men and women’s clothing, and accessories. | 345 Old St., Hoxton | 020/7734-6846 | www.bstorelondon.com | Closed Sun. | Station: Old St.
More than 10,000 vintage items for men and women, from cowboy boots to bowling shirts to prom dresses—it’s got the largest collection of American retro in the United Kingdom. There’s another outpost in Hoxton and one in Soho. | 110-112 Cheshire St., Spitalfields | 020/7613-3636 | www.beyondretro.com | Station: Whitechapel. London Overground: Shoreditch High St.
This vast former furniture factory, the world’s first (self-proclaimed) “vintage department store,” now has separate floors devoted to antiques and vintage clothing as well as period goods ranging from bikes to luggage. Look for racks filled with denim jackets, ’80s Ralph Lauren, chunky ski sweaters, and Liberty shirts. | 55-59 Hanbury St., Spitalfields | 020/7377-0730 | www.blitzlondon.co.uk | Station: London Overground: Shoreditch High St.
Fodor’s Choice | Hostem.
Drawing style-conscious customers from nearby tech start-ups, Hostem is for the man who wants to be well dressed without looking like he’s trying too hard, with a mixture of casual luxury, street wear, and fashion-forward edge. You’ll find established names like Phillip Lim and Ann Demeulemeester as well as beautiful cashmere sweaters from newcomers like The Elder Statesmen. A new women’s-wear area offers pieces by designers like Commes des Garcons and Rick Owens. It’s achingly hip, so expect lots of black. | 41-43 Redchurch St., Shoreditch | 020/7739-9733 | www.hostem.co.uk | Station: London Overground: Shoreditch High St.
The Laden Showroom.
Sienna Miller and Victoria Beckham are among the celebs who regularly check out emerging talent at this East End showroom for young designers. The store retails the work of more than 50 new designers, some selling one-off items. | 103 Brick La., Spitalfields | 020/7247-2431 | www.laden.co.uk | Station: Shoreditch High St. London Overground: Shoreditch High St.
Magazine and rock stylists love this place. It consists of two shops along Brick Lane that carry everything from handbags and ball gowns to jeans, military garb, and Western wear. The ever-changing stock spans the 1920s to the 1990s. There are also branches in Camden and Covent Garden. | 101 and 107 Brick La., Spitalfields | 020/7375-3864 | www.rokit.co.uk | Station: London Overground: Shoreditch High St.
Fodor’s Choice | Start London.
An ever-changing roster of cutting-edge designers like Richard Nicholl, Helmut Lang, and Alexander Wang is on offer here, and, for men (down the street at No. 59), everything from Comme des Garcons to Nudie Jeans. Although the emphasis is on chic directional fashion, co-owner and American expat Brix Smith-Start is more mother hen than formidable fashionista and is happy to gently guide customers into trying something new. | 42-44 Rivington St., Shoreditch | 020/7729-3334 | www.start-london.com | Station: Old St. London Overground: Shoreditch High St.
Fodor’s Choice | Sunspel.
This British firm has been making fine men’s underwear since the mid-19th century and it’s still their specialty, along with luxury basics. Prince Charles is an actual customer and James Bond a filmic one (he wore their shorts in “Thunderball” and polo shirt in “Quantum of Solace”). They also carry elegant, minimalist T-shirts, sweaters, and sweats for women. There are other branches in Marylebone, St. James’s, and Soho. | 7 Redchurch St., Shoreditch | 020/7739-9729 | www.sunspel.com | Station: Shoreditch High St. London Overground: Shoreditch High St.
Fodor’s Choice | A. Gold.
All of the traditional or retro foodstuffs—such as jars of London-produced honey and relish, or even locally produced gin—sold in this re-creation of a village shop in an old milliner’s premises are British-made and make excellent portable presents. Stylish gift baskets and old-fashioned picnic hampers are available, as are takeout sandwiches and hot daily specials. | 42 Brushfield St.,Spitalfields | 020/7247-2487 | www.agoldshop.com | Station: Shoreditch High St. London Overground: Shoreditch High St.
Fodor’s Choice | Labour & Wait.
Although mundane items like colanders and clothespins may not sound like ideal souvenirs, this shop will make you reconsider. The owners are on a mission to revive retro, functional British household goods, such as enamel kitchenware, genuine feather dusters, bread bins, and traditional Welsh blankets. | 85 Redchurch St., Shoreditch | 020/7729-6253 | www.labourandwait.co.uk | Station: Shoreditch High St. London Overground: Shoreditch High St.
Maison Trois Garcons.
If your motto is “too much ain’t enough,” you’ll love this shrine to all things over the top. A mixture of antique, vintage, and contemporary pieces sourced in England, France, Sweden, and elsewhere, this eclectic interiors shop-cum-café does not shy away from the rococo, the opulent, and even kitsch. But there’s also plenty of lovely porcelain, glassware, mirrors, furniture, and light fixtures. | 45 Redchurch St., Shoreditch | 020/3370-7761 | www.lestroisgarcons.com/shop | Station: Shoreditch High St. London Overground: Shoreditch High St.
The noisy center of the Bengali community is a hubbub of buying and selling. Sunday stalls have food, hardware, household and electrical goods, books, bikes, shoes, clothes, spices, and traditional saris. The CDs and DVDs may not be entirely legitimate and the bargain iron may not have a plug so be careful. Shoppers nevertheless flock to the market to enjoy the ethnic buzz, sample curries and Bengali sweets, or indulge in salt beef on a bagel at Beigel Bake—London’s 24-hour bagel bakery, a survivor of the neighborhood’s Jewish past. Brick Lane’s activity spills over into nearby Petticoat Lane Market that purveys similar goods but with less atmosphere. | Brick. La., Shoreditch | www.visitbricklane.org | Sun. 9-5 | Station: Aldgate East. London Overground: Shoreditch High St.
Fodor’s Choice | Columbia Road Flower Market.
London’s premier flower market is about as pretty and photogenic as they come, with more than 50 stalls selling flowers, shrubs, bulbs, and trees—everything from bedding plants to 10-foot banana trees—as well as garden tools, pots, and accessories at competitive prices. Columbia Road itself is lined with interesting independent shops selling art, fashion, furnishings, and jewelry, and the local cafés are superb. | Columbia Rd., Hoxton | www.columbiaroad.info | Sun. 8-2 | Station: Old St. London Overground: Hoxton.
Old Spitalfields Market.
This fine example of a Victorian market hall (once the East End’s wholesale fruit and vegetable market), now restored to its original splendor, is at the center of the area’s gentrified revival. The original building is now largely occupied by shops, with traders’ stalls in the courtyard. A modern shopping precinct under a Norman Foster-designed glass canopy adjoins the old building, home to a large number of independent traders’ stalls. Wares range from crafts, vintage and new clothing, handmade rugs, and jewelry, to hand-carved toy trains, unique baby clothes, rare vinyl, and cakes, though you may have to wade through a certain number of stalls selling cheap imports to find the good stuff. Thursday is particularly good for antiques, Friday for fashion, art, and a bi-weekly record fair. And, from Spanish tapas to Thai satays, the food outlets (mostly small, upscale chains but some independent stallholders as well) offer cuisines from around the world. | 16 Horner Sq., Brushfield St., Spitalfields | 020/7247-8556 | www.oldspitalfieldsmarket.com | Stalls Mon.-Wed. 10-5, Thurs. and Sun. 9-5, Fri. 10-4, Sat. 11-5; restaurants weekdays 11-11, Sun. 9-11 am; retail shops daily 10-7 | Station: Liverpool St. London Overground: Shoreditch High St.
Rough Trade East.
While many London record stores are struggling, this veteran indie-music specialist in the Old Truman Brewery seems to have gotten the formula right. The spacious surroundings are as much a hangout as a shop, complete with a stage for live gigs, a café, and Internet access. There’s another branch on Portobello Road in Notting Hill. | Dray Walk, Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick La.,Spitalfields | 020/7392-7788 | Station: Liverpool St. London Overground: Shoreditch High St.
The Village Bicycle.
With a style that might best be described as punk luxe, this “lifestyle concept store” offers witty, haute Goth home wares like a diamanté-covered skull phone (a take on a notorious Damien Hirst artwork). There are also toys, coffee-table books, trinkets, shoes, hi-tops, and art, as well as clothes from ultrahip labels like House of Holland, Opening Ceremony, Sass & Bide, and Mark Fest that are designed for girls with small frames and big credit limits. | 91 Brick La., Shoreditch | 020/7313-9031 | www.imavillagebicycle.com | Station: Notting Hill Gate, Westbourne Park.
SOUTH OF THE THAMES
Oxo Tower Wharf.
The artisans creating fashion, jewelry, home accessories, textiles, prints and photographs, furniture, and other design items have to pass rigorous selection procedures to set up in these prime riverside studios where they make, display, and sell their work. The Oxo Tower Restaurant & Brasserie on the top floor is expensive, but with its fantastic view of London, it’s worth popping up for a drink. There’s also a public terrace where you can take in the view. | Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse St., South Bank | 020/7021-1600 | www.coinstreet.org | Closed Mon. | Station: Waterloo.
Bermondsey Antiques Market.
The early bird catches the worm here, so come before dawn on a Friday (flashlight recommended) to bag a bargain at London’s largest antiques market. Dealers arrive as early as 4 am to snap up the best curios and silver, paintings, objets d’art, and furniture. The early start grew out of wrinkle in the law (dating from when the market began on the site in 1885) under which stolen goods bought here during the hours of darkness when provenance could not be determined did not have to be returned. | Long La. and Bermondsey Sq., Bermondsey | Fri. 4 am-1 pm | Station: London Bridge.
The Saturday morning Bermondsey Farmers’ Market, as well as the redevelopment of Bermondsey Square itself, has attracted more customers to this area. The square now boasts a boutique hotel and an art-house cinema as well as restaurants. | Bermondsey Sq., Bermondsey | www.southwark.gov.uk
Fodor’s Choice | Borough Market.
There’s been a market in Borough since Roman times. This latest incarnation, spread under the arches and railroad tracks leading to London Bridge Station, is London’s foodie central, where some of the city’s best merchants of comestibles purvey their wares from stalls. Fresh coffees, gorgeous cheeses, olives, and baked goods complement the organically farmed meats, fresh fish, fruit, and veggies.
Don’t make any other lunch plans for the day; this is where celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s scallop man cooks them up fresh at Shell Seekers and The Ginger Pig’s rare-breed sausages sizzle on grills, while for the sweet lover there are chocolates, preserves, and Whirld’s artisanal confectionary, as well as 18 restaurants and cafés, most above average.
Seven of the original Borough Market traders, including the celebrated Kappacasein Swiss raclette stand that serves heaping plates of melted Ogleshield cheese over new potatoes, baby pickles, and onion, have established a breakaway market on nearby Maltby Street, which operates on Saturday morning from 9 am. | 8 Southwark St., Borough | 020/7402-1002 | www.boroughmarket.org.uk | Mon.-Tues. 10-5 (lunch stalls only), Wed.-Thurs. 10-5, Fri. 10-6, Sat. 8-5 | Station: London Bridge.
KENSINGTON, CHELSEA, KNIGHTSBRIDGE, AND BELGRAVIA
FAMILY | Marie-Chantal.
If you love beautiful, tasteful clothing for babies and children, head to this boutique created by Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece. As you’d imagine, the look is elegant and the prices are high. Materials used include silk, linen, and Liberty prints. There’s another branch in Notting Hill. | 148 Walton St., South Kensington | 020/7838-1111 | www.mariechantal.co.uk | Closed Sun. | Station: South Kensington.
Designer fashion from the 1930s to 1980s is the trademark at this tiny but desirable boutique, with big names like Pucci, Hermès, Chanel, and Alaïa at bargain prices. Victoria Beckham is a fan. | 76 Earl’s Court Rd., Kensington | 020/7937-2903 | www.orsinivintage.co.uk | Station: Earl’s Ct.
The Conran Shop.
This is the brainchild of Sir Terence Conran, who has been informing British taste since he opened Habitat in the 1960s. Although he is no longer associated with Habitat, his eponymous stores are still bastions of similarly clean, unfussy modernist design. Housewares from furniture to stemware and textiles—both handmade and mass-produced, by famous names and emerging designers—are housed in a building that is a modernist design landmark in its own right. Both the flagship store and the branch on Marylebone High Street are bursting with great gift ideas. | Michelin House, 81 Fulham Rd., South Kensington | 020/7589-7401 | www.conranshop.co.uk | Station: South Kensington.
Fodor’s Choice | Mint.
Owner Lina Kanafani has scoured the globe to curate an eclectic mix of conceptual statement furniture, art, ceramics, and home accessories. Mint also showcases works by up-and-coming designers and sells plenty of limited edition and one-off pieces. If you don’t want to ship a couch home, consider a miniature flower vase or a handmade ceramic pitcher. | 2 North Terr., Alexander Sq., South Kensington | 020/7225-2228 | www.mintshop.co.uk | Closed Sun. | Station: South Kensington.
Largely thanks to its thrillers and chefs, Scandinavia is having a moment in Britain. Skandium brings together many of the region’s top designers of furniture, lighting, rugs, and housewares under one roof. Designers include Knoll, Fritz Hansen, Artek, and Georg Jensen. Clean lines and stripped-back, unfussy elegance abounds (although the Moomins make an appearance on ceramics). There’s another branch in Marylebone. | 245-249 Brompton Rd., South Kensington | 020/7584-2066 | www.skandium.com | Station: South Kensington.
Butler & Wilson.
Specialists in bold costume jewelry and affordable glamour, Butler & Wilson have added semiprecious stones to their foundation diamanté, colored rhinestone, and crystal collections. Flamboyant skull brooches or dainty floral earrings make perfect gifts. | 189 Fulham Rd., South Kensington | 020/7352-3045 | www.butlerandwilson.co.uk | Station: South Kensington.
The Shop at Bluebird.
The brainchild of the couple behind popular women’s-wear brand Jigsaw, this 10,000-square-foot space in the old Bluebird garage brings together men’s and women’s fashion from of-the-moment designers like Raf Simons and Christopher Kane. There’s also furniture, collectibles, designer tech accessories, and music—all chosen for style and originality. It’s worth visiting for the displays alone, which change regularly, although the funky ceiling-light installation of more than 1,000 bulbs seems to be a constant feature. After browsing, unwind with a treatment at the on-site spa or join the ladies who lunch at the restaurant in the same complex. TIP It’s a good 20-minute walk from the nearest Tube station at Sloane Square, so catch a No. 11 or No. 22 bus along King’s Road. | 350 King’s Rd., Chelsea | 020/7351-3873 | www.theshopatbluebird.com | Station: Sloane Sq.
This most elevated of Chelsea dealers had the Biedermeier market cornered, so he has now expanded to Empire and art deco antiques, several of which are museum quality. | 610 King’s Rd.,Fulham | 020/7731-7041 | www.rupertcavendish.co.uk | Station: Fulham Broadway.
Fodor’s Choice | Green & Stone.
This fabulous cave of artists’ materials, papers, art books, easels, and mannequins is one of the longest-established shops on King’s Road. It began life in 1927 as part of the Chenil Gallery, run by a distinguished group that included artist Augustus John and playwright George Bernard Shaw. At the current location since 1934, the shop also has a framing service, antique paint boxes, and craft supplies. | 259 King’s Rd., Chelsea | 020/7352-0837 | www.greenandstone.com | Station: Sloane Sq.
John Sandoe [Books] Ltd.
This atmospheric warren that crams some 25,000 titles into an 18th-century building off King’s Road is the antithesis of a soulless chain bookstore—no surprise it has attracted equally idiosyncratic customers like Tom Stoppard and Keith Richards. Staff members are wonderfully knowledgeable (don’t try to figure out how the stock is organized without their help) and there are a lot of them per customer. If a book isn’t in stock, they will try to source it for you, even if it is out of print. | 10 Blacklands Terr., Chelsea | 020/7589-9473 | www.johnsandoe.com | Station: Sloane Sq.
Fans of such trendy brands as Markus Lupfer or Goat need look no further than Austique. This sophisticated boutique is home to a gorgeous array of dresses, lingerie, jewelry, and accessories for the ultimate fashionista. There’s another branch in Marylebone. | 330 King’s Rd., Chelsea | 020/7376-4555 | www.austique.co.uk | Station: Sloane Sq.
FAMILY | Fodor’s Choice | Brora.
The knitwear is cozy, but the style is cool in this contemporary Scottish cashmere emporium for men, women, and kids. There are dressed-up camisoles, sweaters, and cardigans, and adorable baby ensembles, as well as non-cashmere items such as picnic blankets and scarves. Other branches can be found in Notting Hill, Marylebone, Islington, Covent Garden, and Sloane Square. | 344 King’s Rd., Chelsea | 020/7352-3697 | www.brora.co.uk | Station: Sloane Sq.
If J. Crew isn’t preppy enough for you, try Hackett, with branches in Covent Garden, Spitalfields, St. James’s, Soho, Mayfair, and The City. Originally a posh thrift shop recycling cricket flannels, hunting pinks, Oxford brogues, and other staples of a British gentleman’s wardrobe, Hackett now creates its own line and has become a genuine—and very good—men’s outfitter. The look is traditional and classic, with best buys including polo shirts, corduroys, and striped scarves. There’s also a boys’ line for the junior man-about-town. | 137-138 Sloane St., Chelsea | 020/7730-3331 | www.hackett.com | Station: Sloane Sq.
The British preppie’s answer to Abercrombie & Fitch, Jack Wills specializes in heritage and country sports-inspired styles for men and women but gives them a fresh, sexy edge. This means crowds of lithe young things who don’t mind the pumping music while browsing for slim-line Fair Isle sweaters, fitted plaid shirts, and short floral sundresses for the girls, plus sweatshirts, blazers, skinny cords, and rugby shirts for the boys. They also have Union Jack carry-on bags, bobble hats galore, knitted jackets for hot-water bottles, and other ironically traditional items. Other branches are in Notting Hill, Covent Garden, Islington, Soho, and Shoreditch. | 72 Kings Rd., Chelsea | 020/7581-0347 | www.jackwills.com | Station: Sloane Sq.
Jigsaw specializes in clothes that are classic yet trendy, ladylike without being dull. The style is epitomized by the former Kate Middleton, who was a buyer for the company before her marriage. The quality of fabrics and detailing belie the reasonable prices and cuts are kind to the womanly figure. Although there are numerous branches across London, no two stores are the same. The preteen set have their own line, Jigsaw Junior. | The Chapel, Duke of York Sq., King’s Rd., Chelsea | 020/730-4404 | www.jigsawonline.com | Station: Sloane Sq.
L’Artisan du Chocolat.
Praised by top chefs Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal, L’Artisan raises chocolate to an art form. “Couture” chocolates are infused with fruits, nuts, and spices (including such exotic flavorings as Szechuan pepper and tobacco). This is one of the few chocolate shops in the world that makes liquid salted caramels. There are also branches in Notting Hill and Borough Market. | 89 Lower Sloane St., Chelsea | 0845/270-6996 | www.artisanduchocolat.co.uk | Station: Sloane Sq.
Tricia Guild’s exuberantly colored graphic fabrics, wallpapers, paints, furniture, and bed linens have decorated design-conscious British homes for several decades and her soft-furnishings book has taught many budget-conscious do-it-yourselfers how to reupholster a sofa or make lined draperies. The shop also stocks contemporary furniture, wallpapers, and home accessories by other designers. There’s another branch in Marylebone. | 267-277 King’s Rd., Chelsea | 020/351-5775 | www.designersguild.com | Closed Sun. | Station: Sloane Sq.
Fodor’s Choice | Manolo Blahnik.
Blink and you’ll miss the discreet sign that marks fashionista footwear central. Blahnik, the man who single-handedly managed to revive the sexy stiletto and make it classier than ever, has been trading out of this small shop on a Chelsea side street since 1973. It’s a must for shoe lovers with a generous budget. If you decide to wear your new Manolos, hop on the No. 11 or No. 22 bus or grab a cab—the nearest Tube station is about a 20-minute totter away. | 49-51 Old Church St., Chelsea | 020/7352-8622 | www.manoloblahnik.com | Closed Sun. | Station: Sloane Sq., South Kensington.
Fodor’s Choice | Anya Hindmarch.
Exquisite leather bags and personalized, printed canvas totes are what made Hindmarch famous. Here you’ll find her complete collection of bags and shoes. You can also order a bespoke piece such as the “Be A Bag,” a tote bag imprinted with your chosen photo. There are also branches around the corner on Pont Street, in Mayfair, and in Notting Hill. | 157-158 Sloane St., Knightsbridge | 020/7730-0961 | www.anyahindmarch.com | Station: Sloane Sq., Knightsbridge.
Created by Vivienne Westwood’s son, this line of sexy, saucy lingerie in gorgeous fabrics and lace tends toward the kind of underwear that men buy for women—more provocative than practical. The original boudoir-like shop is in what was Soho’s red light district, but the brand has gone thoroughly mainstream and now sells bathing suits, bed linen, and luggage (along with paddles and pasties) in Knightsbridge, Mayfair, Notting Hill, and The City. | 6 Broadwick St., Soho | 020/7439-0229 | www.agentprovocateur.com | Closed Sun. | Station: Oxford Circus.
Tucked away in a residential mews, this spartan shop in a former Victorian dairy is the brainchild of Maureen Doherty, once Issey Miyake’s right-hand person. More than half the minimalist, unstructured styles for men and women in natural fabrics such as silk, cashmere, and antique cotton are handmade. Garments may be casually hung on hooks or folded on wooden tables but the price tags are anything but unassuming and the clientele includes the likes of Donna Karan and photographer Bruce Weber. Unusual ceramics and jewelry are also on display. | 36 Kinnerton St.,Knightsbridge | 020/7235-9315 | Closed Sun. | Station: Knightsbridge.
FAMILY | Rachel Riley.
Specializing in traditional English style for boys and girls, Riley’s luxurious, vintage-inspired collection includes classics like duffle coats and hand-smocked floral dresses. Mothers who love the Riley look can pick up coordinating outfits for themselves here or at the Marylebone High Street location. | 14 Pont St., Knightsbridge | 020/7259-5969 | www.rachelriley.co.uk | Station:Knightsbridge.
Rigby & Peller.
Lovers of luxury lingerie shop here for brands like Prima Donna and Aubade, as well as R&P’s own line. If the right fit eludes you, the made-to-measure service starts at around £300. Many of London’s most affluent women shop here, not only because this is the Queen’s favored underwear supplier but also because the quality is excellent and the service impeccably knowledgeable while being much friendlier than you might expect. There are also branches in Mayfair, Chelsea, and The City. | 2 Hans Rd., Knightsbridge | 020/7225-4760 | www.rigbyandpeller.com | Station:Knightsbridge.
With an encyclopedic assortment of luxury brands, this Knightsbridge institution has more than 300 departments and 20 restaurants, all spread over 1 million square feet on a 5-acre site. If you approach Harrods as a blingtastic tourist attraction rather than as a center of elegant sophistication, you won’t be disappointed. Focus on the spectacular food halls, the huge ground-floor perfumery, the revamped toy and technology departments, the excellent Urban Retreat spa, and the Vegas-like Egyptian Room. Nevertheless, standards of taste are enforced with a customer dress code (no shorts, ripped jeans, or flip-flops). TIP Be prepared to brave the crowds, especially on weekends. | 87-135 Brompton Rd., Knightsbridge | 020/7730-1234 | www.harrods.com | Station: Knightsbridge.
Fodor’s Choice | Harvey Nichols.
While visiting tourists flock to Harrods, true London fashionistas shop at Harvey Nichols, aka “Harvey Nicks.” The women’s-wear and accessories departments are outstanding, featuring of-the-moment designers like Victoria Beckham, Peter Pilotto, and 3.1 Phillip Lim. The furniture and housewares are equally gorgeous (and pricey), though they become somewhat more affordable during the twice-annual sales in January and July. The Fifth Floor restaurant is the place to see and be seen, but if you’re just after a quick bite, there’s also a more informal café on the same floor or sushi-to-go from Yo! Sushi. | 109-125 Knightsbridge, Knightsbridge | 020/7235-5000 | www.harveynichols.com | Station: Knightsbridge.
Fodor’s Choice | Lulu Guinness.
Famous for her flamboyantly themed bags (think the satin “bucket” topped with roses or the elaborately beaded red “lips” clutch), Guinness also showcases vintage-inspired luggage and beauty accessories in this frilly little shop, which is just as whimsical as her designs. There are other branches in Mayfair, Covent Garden, and The City. | 3 Ellis St., Belgravia | 020/7823-4828 | www.luluguinness.com | Closed Sun. | Station: Sloane Sq.
Fodor’s Choice | Philip Treacy.
Magnificent hats by Treacy are annual showstoppers on Ladies Day at the Royal Ascot races and regularly grace the glossy magazines’ society pages. Part Mad Hatter, part Cecil Beaton, Treacy’s creations always guarantee a grand entrance (remember Princess Beatrice’s eye-catching headdress at the Royal Wedding?). In addition to the extravagant, haute couture hats handmade in the atelier, ready-to-wear hats, and bags are also for sale. | 69 Elizabeth St., Belgravia | 020/7730-3992 | www.philiptreacy.co.uk | Closed Sun. | Station: Sloane Sq.
Mungo & Maud.
If you don’t want to leave London without buying something for your best friend, pick up a well-designed coat, collar, leash, blanket, bowl, toy, or comfortable bed that will make your dog the snazziest pooch in town. Cats are also catered for with baskets, suede collars, and catnip toys. Even owners get a nod with luxurious merino throws (soon to be covered in pet hair) and a leather poop pouch. There’s also a branch in Notting Hill. | 79 Elizabeth St., Belgravia | 020/022-1207 | www.mungoandmaud.com | Station: Sloane Sq.
Fodor’s Choice | Books for Cooks.
It may seem odd to describe a bookshop as delicious-smelling, but the aromas wafting out of the tiny test kitchen—which serves daily-changing lunch dishes drawn from recipes in the 8,000 cookbooks on the shelves, as well as cakes and culinary experiments—will whet your appetite even before you’ve opened one of the books. Just about every world cuisine is represented along with a complete lineup of works by celebrity chefs. TIP Before you come to London, visit the shop’s website to sign up for a cooking class. | 4 Blenheim Crescent, Notting Hill | 020/7221-1992 | www.booksforcooks.com | Closed Sun. and Mon. | Station: Notting Hill Gate, Ladbroke Grove.
French-Cambodian sisters Val and Vanda Heng-Vong launched this shop to showcase the best of French clothing and designer housewares. Expect to find fashion by Isabel Marant, Forte Forte, and A.P.C. along with housewares and a well-edited collection of ceramics. Just next door, Petit Aimé sells children’s clothing. There’s also a Shoreditch branch. | 32 Ledbury Rd., Notting Hill | 020/7221-7070 | www.aimelondon.com | Station: Notting Hill Gate.
FAMILY | Caramel Baby & Child.
Here you’ll find adorable clothes for children six months and up: handcrafted Peruvian alpaca cardigans, floral cotton dresses for girls; check shirts and tees for boys; comfortable pants in twill, corduroy, and cotton for both; and merino cashmere sweaters for fashionable babies. Caramel also sells a small selection of decorative-functional items like mobiles and child-friendly chairs. There are also branches in South Kensington and Chelsea. | 77 Ledbury Rd., Notting Hill | 020/7727-0906 | www.caramel-shop.co.uk | Station: Westbourne Park, Notting Hill Gate.
Now in the modernist landmark known as the Trellick Tower and favored by the likes of Kate Moss, Rellik began as a stall in the Portobello Market. Vintage hunters looking to splurge can find a selection of YLS, Dior, and Ossie Clark as well as items from lesser-known designers. | Trellick Tower, 8 Golborne Rd., Notting Hill | 020/8962-0089 | www.relliklondon.co.uk | Closed Sun. | Station: Westbourne Park.
Fodor’s Choice | Virginia Antiques.
With perhaps the best collection of vintage clothing in London, Virginia Bates’s shop offers dresses, hats, and accessories from the late Victorian era (circa 1880) to the early 1930s. These are wearable collector’s items in perfect condition and are priced accordingly. | 98 Portland Rd., Holland Park, Notting Hill | 020/7727-9908 | Closed Sun.; open Sat. by appointment only | Station:Holland Park, Ladbroke Grove.
London’s most famous market still wins the prize (according to some) for the all-round best, stretching almost two miles from fashionable Notting Hill to the lively cultural melting pot of North Kensington, changing character as it goes.
The southern end, starting at Chepstow Villas and going to Elgin Crescent, is lined with shops, stalls, and arcades selling antiques, silver, and bric-a-brac on Saturday. The middle, from Elgin Crescent to Talbot, is devoted to fruit and vegetables, interspersed with excellent hot food stalls. On Friday and Saturday, the area between Talbot Road and the elevated highway (called the Westway) becomes more of a flea market specializing in new household and mass-produced goods sold at a discount. North of the Westway up to Goldborne Road are more stalls selling even cheaper secondhand household goods and bric-a-brac. Scattered throughout but mostly concentrated under the Westway are clothing stalls—everything from vintage to emerging designers, custom T-shirts, and super-cool baby clothes, plus jewelry. As well, new and established designers are found in the boutiques of the Portobello Green Arcade.
Some say Portobello Road has become a tourist trap, but if you acknowledge that it’s a circus and get into the spirit, it’s a lot of fun. Perhaps you won’t find many bargains, but this is such a fascinating part of town that just hanging out is a good enough excuse to come. There are some food and flower stalls throughout the week (try the Hummingbird Bakery for delicious cupcakes) but Saturday is when the market in full swing. Serious shoppers avoid the crowds and go on Friday morning. TIP Bring cash (several vendors don’t take credit cards), but keep an eye on it. | Portobello Rd., Notting Hill | shopportobello.co.uk | May-Sept., 9-5; Oct.-Apr., 9-4 | Station: Notting Hill Gate.
Music & Video Exchange.
This store is a music collector’s treasure trove, with a constantly changing stock refreshed by customers selling and exchanging as well as buying. The main store focuses on rock pop, soul, and dance, mainstream and obscure, in formats ranging from vinyl to CD, cassette, and even mini-disk. Don’t miss the discounts in the basement and the rarities upstairs. Classical music is at No. 40 and there are branches in Soho and Greenwich. | 38 Notting Hill Gate, Notting Hill | 020/7243-8573 | www.mgeshops.com | Station: Notting Hill Gate.
The signature look of the footwear here is ladylike, with pointed toes and kitten heels, often ornamented with bows, lace, or exquisite embroidery. Ballet flats and sneakers in velvet or animal prints provide glamour without sacrificing comfort. Small-but-perfectly formed handbags, as well as shoes and accessories for men, are stocked both here and in the Sloane Square branch. | 207 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill | 020/7313-7490 | www.emmahope.com | Station: Notting Hill Gate.
REGENT’S PARK AND HAMPSTEAD
Graham & Green.
Combining style with practicality and an added whimsical twist, this delightful interiors shop has everything from faux fur and mohair throws to elegant lamps and lampshades, embroidered cushions, felt animal rugs for children, Venetian glass doorknobs, folding deck chairs (as found in the Royal Parks), shabby chic sofas, and even a pedal-powered kiddie car that’s a replica of a classic Bugatti. There’s another branch in Notting Hill. | 164 Regent’s Park Rd., Primrose Hill | 020/7586-2960 | www.grahamandgreen.co.uk | Station: Chalk Farm.
Touring London requires a lot of walking, so if your feet are crying out for mercy, stop in at this long-established boutique that specializes in spiffy but comfortable shoes and boots for men and women from brands like Unisa, Aubrey, and their own Spice line. There’s another branch in Islington. | 162 Regents’ Park Rd., Primrose Hill | 020/7722-2478 | www.spiceshu.co.uk | Station:Chalk Farm.
One of the first “lifestyle boutiques” and still one of the best, this west London favorite carries fashion by in-the-know favorites like Vanessa Bruno, Collette Dinnigan, J Brand, Dosa, and more, plus accessories, housewares, and kids clothes. The emphasis is on the feminine and quirky. | 141 Portland Rd., Holland Park | 202/7727-6760 | www.thecrossshop.co.uk | Closed Sun. | Station:Holland Park.
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