London’s best shopping streets
London sits firmly in its lofty position as one of the world’s top shopping cities. Whether you’re looking for the world’s most celebrated fashion designers or small independent boutiques, there’s no shortage of retail therapy options – the difficulty is in knowing exactly where to find the best shopping areas. So we’ve done the homework for you which leaves you free to shop until you drop.
London’s big stores
With the exception of Selfridges, we’d give Oxford Street a miss and head straight for the more elegant stores on Regent Street such as Liberty’s and Hamleys. Dip behind Regent Street to Carnaby Street for a whole host of independent shops, restaurants and bars. Then cross back over Regent Street, stroll down past the Savile Row tailors and make tracks for Piccadilly, home to Fortnum & Mason’s flagship store.
Bling and big name fashion designers
Don’t miss Burlington Arcade, an upmarket covered walkway running from Piccadilly and behind Bond Street. Bond Street has long been associated with some of the world’s most prestigious brands, with Burberry, Tiffany, Gucci, Dior and Cartier just some of the names to feature amongst the collection of designer fashion, jewellery, art and antique shops.
Knightsbridge earns its place on the must-visit list of London’s shopping streets, largely thanks to the glitzy shop windows and enticing interiors of Harrods and Harvey Nichols. Head down Sloane Street where high end fashion and haute couture shops include Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Valentino until you reach Sloane Square.
Upmarket high street names & interior design
Sloane Square is dominated by the eminently sensible Peter Jones department store (and the more indulgent Tiffany’s) which marks the start of the King’s Road. Opposite Peter Jones, the Duke of York pedestrian precinct houses several upmarket high street names and restaurants while further along the King’s Road, the boutiques and high street fashion names give way to interior design and furniture stores.
Boutiques and independent retailers
Marylebone High Street remains one of London’s most appealing high streets, with cafés and specialist food stores intermingling with high end independent retailers and a pleasantly relaxed atmosphere. Find bookshop heaven in the fabulous Daunt Books, an Edwardian bookshop with a long galleried main room, conservatory-style ceiling and, at the far end, a magnificent stained glass window.
Iconic Notting Hill is famous for the film of the same name and the world’s second biggest carnival. Home to celebrities and some very well-heeled London families, this fashionable neighbourhood is, not surprisingly, another good spot for designer boutiques and smart restaurants, mainly along Westbourne Grove and Ledbury Road. Portobello Market (Saturdays) – antiques, fashion, clothing, street food – stretches for two miles but the locals tend to head for organic produce, bread, cakes, fruit, vegetables and fish at Notting Hill Farmer’s Market.
One of our favourite independent shops for gifts is Cosmo China where you can choose traditional handpainted ceramics and add your own personal message.
More independent shops, famous names and a young buzzy atmosphere dominate at Spitalfields. The original fruit and flower market underwent a complete overhaul in 2003 resulting in a much slicker outfit and creating a hub for young designers. Sunday market stalls offer vintage accessories, bags and handmade clothes but there is also a good selection of smart shops and eateries.
Nearby Brick Lane is more like the original Spitalfields, a sprawling market crammed full of pile-it-high stalls, retro furniture, quirky shops and curry houses. Visit on a Sunday.
No overview of London’s shopping areas would be complete without mention of Covent Garden. There are few brands that aren’t represented in the streets around the market, but don’t miss Neal Street where top shops include The Tea House, Speedo’s flagship store and, in Neal’s Yard, the organic beauty brand Neal’s Yard Remedies.
Regularly listed as one of London’s top 5 shopping streets, Lamb’s Conduit Street is a partly pedestrianised street in historic Bloomsbury which has resisted the domination of chains and managed to stay completely independent. The focus is on sophisticated menswear but there are also great coffee shops, the lovely Persephone Books and gift, antique and jewellery shops.
Despite its location in the heart of fashionable Chelsea, Chelsea Antiques Market is one of London’s prime locations for antique-hunting. Rummage through the stash of treasures at over 100 shops and stalls. Antiques and vintage collectibles can also be found at Camden Passage in Islington, Portobello Market and at the indoor Alfie’s Antiques Market on Church Street near Marylebone.