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Whether you seek thrills such as creeping like an intrepid explorer through the dimly-lit shops of Brick Lane, or refined boutiques on streets steeped in history, London has it all. The tricky part can be deciding where to stay to maximise your retail therapy experience. Luckily for you, The Plum Guide’s got you covered. Below: our list of the best areas to stay in for shopping in London.
Hackney - Chilled Out Shopping
Artist/bohemian types; its local markets.
Transport to the rest of London (fewer tube links than other areas).
Away from the beaten track of common tourist hotspots (it’s not even mentioned on TripAdvisor!), Hackney is home to a myriad of creative types and rustic restaurants. Begin the day with a hearty breakfast sourced from the local Farmer’s market, then head down to the famous Broadway Market for a day browsing the assortment of stalls selling food, vinyl music, books and art. Whilst there, visit Artwords, a bookshop focused on the contemporary visual arts, or 69b Boutique, which stocks sustainable, Fairtrade fashion. Take a breather from browsing by reclining in the hammocks and enjoying a light meal at Arepa & Co, a Venezuelan restaurant with views of the canal.
"Ever dreamed of listening to live music while browsing vintage fashion? There’s a shop for that."
Near Hackney Central station, you’ll also find a high street with various shops. Ever dreamed of listening to live music while browsing vintage fashion? There’s a shop for that – Paper Dress Vintage on Mare Street is a great boutique selling fashion from the 1900-80s, and hosts talented acts in the evenings to entertain shoppers. Past acts have included The Noisettes, and The Vamps. There is also a Burberry Outlet on adjacent street Chatham Place, for those seeking bargain designer fare.
Chilled out, chic, and a melting-pot of culture, Hackney is a world within a city. Warning: you may collect so many trinkets and items of clothing that you leave looking like a hipster.
Kensington High Street - London's Shopping Heaven
Picturesque architecture and culture seekers; upmarket shopping.
Those on more of a budget.
"Kensington is the place to stay for an opulent retail experience."
A royal borough, everything about Kensington whispers luxury. Featuring two of London’s most prominent designer high streets, and plenty of fine dining to reward yourself after a productive day of hitting the shops, Kensington is the place to stay for an opulent retail experience. Wander into The Cross, one of London’s original lifestyle boutiques, and spend some time browsing through its selection of classy casual clothing and homeware. Cologne&Cotton, another lifestyle store we recommend, has a beautiful collection of bed linen, nightwear, and bath and body products.
Fashion lovers should take a trip into REISS, a favourite of the Duchess of Cambridge, and The Library, which sells pieces from many cutting-edge designer houses. If you stay near Shepherd’s Bush, you’re on the doorstep of Westfield shopping centre, and a hub of brand name shops.
When the hustle and bustle of the high street or retail outlet becomes too much, take a break to meditate at Kyoto Garden, a Japanese-inspired park right next to the London Design Museum. Stay in theme with a visit to Muji, a Japanese retailer selling stylish minimalist home goods. You’re also right next to a host of other cultural attractions, like the Victoria and Albert Museum, Natural History Museum, and the Royal Albert Hall.
If you’re with kids, head over to Slick Willies, a shop which rents out rollerblades and skates, and take them for a spin in nearby Kensington Gardens.
Notting Hill - Quirky Upmarket Shops
Quieter living away from most tourist mobs; city markets, up-market boutiques.
Those seeking an inner-city buzz.
"Notting Hill is a romantic, quintessentially British neighbourhood. Think of families walking the dog and doing the grocery shop, rather than a sea of tour guides and selfie-sticks"
Far away from most claustrophobic city crowds, Notting Hill is a romantic, quintessentially British neighbourhood. Think of families walking the dog and doing the grocery shop, rather than a sea of tour guides and selfie-sticks. Its shopping credentials are numerous: Portobello Road Market is one famous spot. Browse for furniture décor inspiration in SCP (West), and rummage through the racks for high-end vintage finds at Oxfam, a charity shop. Or check out Vinyl Café, a coffee shop with rare LPs for sale.
After designers? Notting Hill has many quirky upmarket shops, like Wolf & Badger, a boutique showcasing the work of up-and-coming designers, Matches Fashion, selling pieces from big names like Alexander McQueen, and TOAST, which prides itself on soulful women’s fashion and homeware inspired by nature.
Soho - Exotic Shopping in London
Those looking to stay in a central location; vintage clothing and books, adult-only shopping.
"Our favourites include Liberty, a large department store boasting men and women’s fashion, famous for its tasteful floral prints, and Beyond Retro, a store filled with quirky vintage fashion."
No London shopping guide would be complete without Soho. If you’re prepared to brave the crowds in nearby Oxford street (tip: get there at 9am, before the masses descend), your patience will be rewarded with an impressive array of flagship stores. Our favourites include Liberty, a large department store boasting men and women’s fashion, famous for its tasteful floral prints, and Beyond Retro, a store filled with quirky vintage fashion. For bibliophiles, the store Any Amount of Books – next to Leicester Square - sells rare editions at reasonable prices.
In the Soho area, you’ll also find the Berwick Street Market and China Town, chock-full of tasty East-Asian delicacies. For an alternative take on the traditional British afternoon tea, head to Yauatcha, a Michelin-starred restaurant with the best dim sum in the city. While staying in Soho, you’ll be within walking distance of fabulous West End theatre, and most major London tourist attractions.
Finally, for the especially bold, Soho features a selection of Adult-only stores, with plenty of friendly, open-minded staff to aid curious shoppers. Peek into Fifty&Dean on Old Compton Street, which has a selection of high-quality, original adult products to peruse.
Marylebone - Elegance and Luxury Shopping
A ‘village within a city’ feel, majestic architecture; luxury shopping, independent boutiques.
Late night shopping. Most shops tend to shut by 6-7pm.
"On a Sunday, take your pick of the fresh produce at the local Farmer’s Market."
South of Regents Park, Marylebone has an elegant high street that is a joy to stroll along because of the area’s affluent architecture. It’s close enough to Oxford Street that you’ll never run out of shops, but far enough to avoid the shopping mob. On a Sunday, take your pick of the fresh produce at the local Farmers Market.
Head to Selfridges, a must-visit shopping icon, for nine floors of designer fashion, homeware, and gifts. Visit Skandium, a high-end home store with chic Scandinavian furniture, and indulge your visual senses and Martha Stewart tendencies. Alfie's Antique Market, a large indoor market on Church Street, boasts an impressive range of antique and vintage stalls, selling everything from ceramics to vintage clothing. Last but not least, Daunt Books, renowned for its stunning Edwardian architecture, is a delightful place to spend an afternoon nosing through novels.
Alternatively, scout out potential shops on one of London’s infamous ‘Boris Bikes’, available for hire at multiple points throughout the area.
Camden Town - Dynamic and buzzing shopping experiences
Its urban street feel; retro fashion, memorabilia.
Noise and chaos.
"For a cheeky glimpse into the world of techno culture, pop into The Underworld at Cyberdog. If you’ve ever wanted to try on punk fashion and get some street cred, Punkyfish is the place to visit"
Sample exotic street food at Camden Market, one of the most dynamic and buzzing shopping experiences the city offers. If you like grungy streets with hipster gems, Camden is the place for you.
For a cheeky glimpse into the world of techno culture, pop into The Underworld at Cyberdog. If you’ve ever wanted to try on punk fashion and get some street cred, Punkyfish is the place to visit. Alternatively, check out The Modfather Clothing Company for some British street fashion. General Eyewear, an artisan eyewear store, is another vintage haven, offering a curated range of historical frames from 1810s-1995, as well as its own designer glasses.
Take advantage of your flat’s kitchen facilities and source fresh Mediterranean produce from Phoenicia, a supermarket in Kentish Town. To round off an afternoon of shopping, have a cocktail or two at Ladies and Gentleman, a bar converted from an old underground toilet.
Shoreditch / Brick Lane - Best area to stay in for Hipsters
Young trendy people; hipster boutiques; retro and vintage clothing; people watching; excellent bagels; street food
Crowds on the weekend; taking your mum
"Ever felt the need to acquire a banana tree? The Columbia Road Flower Market, open on Sundays, is filled to the brim with exotic plants."
Paradoxically upmarket and street at the same time, spend your time in Shoreditch wandering through the Old Spitalfields Market, a cavern of diverse market stalls. While there, visit The Mercantile, home to a selection of unique British brands, as well as more affordable fashion. You should also target Present London, an independent boutique stocking men’s clothing, macho homeware, and grooming products, or pop into Goodhood for some streetwear with designer credentials.
Ever felt the need to acquire a banana tree? The Columbia Road Flower Market, open on Sundays, is filled to the brim with exotic plants. Meanwhile, Brick Lane - informally known as Banglatown - is a hotspot of Bangladeshi culture, fashion, and food. Head to the iconic black-and-white photo booth in the shop Rough Trade, to document your adventures.
A fun challenge while you’re in the area: try to spot as many Banksy street art masterpieces as you can.
Knightsbridge - Harrods Shopping Spree
"Prada, Burberry, and Gucci all have stores in Knightsbridge. For upmarket Italian design, visit Bottega Veneta, for the finest range of leather handbags and men and women’s fashion."
The rest of Knightsbridge’s shopping charms are often overshadowed by Harrods, Britain’s top designer store. But don’t be fooled: Knightsbridge has much more to offer. Create a bespoke, personalised gift for that special someone at Anya Hindmarch, browse classy contemporary home accessories at The Conran Shop, or peruse fine foods at the Duke of York Market, open on Saturdays.
Rigby&Peller offer some great designer British lingerie and swimwear, with personal fittings available. Prada, Burberry, and Gucci all have stores in Knightsbridge. For upmarket Italian design, visit Bottega Veneta, for the finest range of leather handbags and men and women’s fashion.
Treat your senses by tantalising your taste buds with a guilty pleasure at Rococo Chocolates, which hosts chocolate masterclasses and tasting opportunities, or make a candle at Rachel Vosper’s. If you’re planning to head to Harvey Nichols, don’t forget to visit their fifth floor café, for one of the best brunches in London.
Mayfair - A Glamourous Shopping Atmosphere
London explorers with a taste for luxury; its convenient location and easy access to other neighbourhoods.
If you’re on holiday and want to get away from city bankers and businessmen.
"Ever wondered where the Royals get their hats from? Lock & Co. Hatters on St James’s Street has an innovative range of headwear designs."
For a glamourous shopping atmosphere, pick Mayfair as your excursion base. Pamper yourself mid-shopping with an afternoon tea at Claridge’s, flock to the labels on designer-encrusted New Bond Street, or experience the atmosphere of an art auction at Sotheby’s. If you’re lucky enough to be in Mayfair at Christmastime, stroll through Shepherd Market, open all year round – but specially decked out in lights for the holiday season.
Ever wondered where the Royals get their hats from? Lock&Co Hatters on St James’s Street has an innovative range of headwear designs. Prominent British designers like Paul Smith, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood all have stores in Mayfair, making it a shopping destination of choice for London’s distinguished elite.
In general, Mayfair is a super-central location, within walking distance of other fabulous neighbourhoods, such as Soho, Westminster, and Belgravia. With Hyde Park at your doorstep, rest assured that there are plenty of ways to entertain the rest of the family, while you tick off your London retail bucket list.
"Yoga lovers rejoice: Lululemon has a range of premium sportswear, and occasionally puts on complimentary yoga classes."
Covent Garden is known for its flagship beauty stores. Check out Neal’s Yard Remedies for premium health and beauty products with an organic twist. Penhaligon’s offers a selection of exclusive own-brand perfumes, while Molton Brown and Crabtree & Evelyn both sell a range of upscale soaps, lotions and home fragrances.
Yoga lovers rejoice: Lululemon has a range of premium sportswear, and occasionally puts on complimentary yoga classes. For another way to take a break from the bustle of Covent Garden, escape into Gudrun Sjoden, a women’s clothing store centred on floral-patterned prints and dreamy pastels.
To end your busy day, and nurse your overloaded senses, head to Dans Le Noir, a dining experience with a twist: all the dishes are served to you by blind waiters in the dark.
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