London boasts some of the world’s best shopping and offers a huge range of shops and markets that cater for all tastes and all budgets. There’s everything from designer stores to legendary department stores, not to mention specialist shops that deal in anything from bespoke shoes and hats to fine Cuban cigars. No matter what your tastes London is bound to have something for you and, in our London shopping guide we list a selection of well known and lesser known shops and markets.
The big one that everybody wants to visit is Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7XL. The closest underground station is Knightsbridge and you can’t miss the store itself, just follow the crowds! It opens from 10am to 8pm Monday to Saturday and from noon to 6pm on Sundays (you can arrive for browsing only from 11.30am to noon. Harrods boasts a stunning array of palatial departments, and its exquisite Food Hall is both mouthwatering and breathtaking. You can get a good feel for the store from their website.
Oxford Street is London’s main shopping street and boasts over 300 stores, between them selling just about anything you could wish for!
If you are visiting Oxford Street it’s probably best to head for Marble Arch Underground Station, which sits at the far west end of Oxford Street, thus ensuring that you don’t miss one store! Alternatively you can head for Oxford Circus Underground Station (situated at the centre of Oxford Street at the junction with Regent Street) or Tottenham Court Road Underground Station at the far end of Oxford Street.
Obviously, with 300 stores to choose from listing them all here is not a viable proposition, however Oxford Street itself does have a detailed and informative website to help with the planning of your shopping expedition!
Other stores dotted along Oxford Street include Marks and Spencer, Primark and Debenhams.
Be warned that Oxford Street can be extremely busy most days of the week, but on Saturdays and Sundays it can become a veritable tsunami of humanity!
For those of you with children, or those of you wishing to re-discover your childhood, than Regent Street (best tube Oxford Circus) is a must since it boasts one of the world’s finest toy stores Hamleys, 188-196 Regent Street, London, London, W1B 5BT.
For the more techno-minded you will find the Apple Store, 235 Regent St, W1B 2EL.
There is also the sublimely graceful Liberty, which offers up-to-the-minute accessories, jewellery, designer fashion and antique furniture.
Piccadilly is another of London’s great shopping streets and is home to the wonderfully old fashioned Burlington Arcade, one of the world’s oldest shopping malls, which dates from 1819, and where top-hatted, tail-coated beadles are still employed to enforce the arcades Regency rules, which include a ban on running, shouting, singing, humming or whistling!
Across the road is Fortnum and Mason, 181 Piccadilly, that offers a wide array of gift items, porcelain, and crystal. You can breathe in the fragrant aromas of the unique and rare offering in the perfume department, or simply feast your eyes on the mouthwatering offerings available in the legendary Food Hall.
For discerning gentlemen seeking more masculine haute couture, especially bespoke shirts, a stroll along Jermyn Street, which is lined with traditional gentlemen’s shops is a must. Amongst the distinctly old world establishments is Hawes and Curtis, 82 Jermyn Street, which specialises in traditional gentlemen’s shirts and which also has a ladies range.
Nearby, you’ll be able to sniff your way into one of London’s finest perfumers, Floris at 89 Jermyn St, London, SW1Y 6JH.
For an entirely different type of fragrance pop into Paxton and Whitfield’s, shop at 93 Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6JE, which offers a plethora of delicious high quality cheeses.
St James’s Street
Just around the corner from Jermyn Street, and equally as old world, is St James’s Street, lined by several shops that have been supplying Royalty with goods, apparel and luxuries for many generations.
First off is Fox of St James’s, 19 St James’s St, London, SW1A 1E purveyors of some of the world’s finest cigars. The shop used to supply Winston Churchill with his trademark cigars and boasts a museum where you can see the chair in which he used to sit on his visits here.
Lobb, at 9 St James’s Street, London SW1A 1EF, are a bespoke bootmakers and have been crafting footwear for royalty since the 17th century, whilst Lock and Co Ltd, at 6 St James’s St, London SW1A 1EF have been covering the heads of monarchs, princes and even Hollywood stars, for equally as long. Well, obviously not the Hollywood stars in the 17th century!
Portobello Road Market
If you want to leave London with some wonderful old antiques, then head over to Notting Hill Gate Station and nearby Portobello Road. This mile-long (1.6km) thoroughfare boasts an eclectic array of stalls and shops and is open from 8am to 6.30pm Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday Saturday. 8am to 1pm on Thursdays
Umbrellas and Walking Sticks
It doesn’t take a weatherman to know that there’s a good chance of rain in London, so an umbrella is an essential item to have in your armoury against everything that London can throw at you. James Smith and Sons, at 53 New Oxford Street WC1A 1BL have been keeping the well-heeled dry since 1830 and their shop is a cornucopia of colourful and more traditional styled brollies, plus walking sticks and riding crops. However, they’re not cheap so you’ll need to be extra careful not to leave your purchase on the tube or bus!
A Cup of Tea?
Twinings, located at 216 Strand, London WC2, is one of London’s oldest shops and has been trading since 1706. Over 100 varieties of teas and infusions are sold at this emporium of the humble (and, in some cases, not so humble) cuppa and you can even try a free taster at the Tea Tasting Bar.