A summer holiday is the time to treat yourself. And London is the place.
The volume and quality of shops in the city cannot be overstated. Whether you’re after a rare item like a book, vintage fashion piece or bottle of wine, or just an everyday amenity from a specific brand, almost anything you could possibly want is available.
For the uninitiated or everyday shopper, it can be overwhelming to sort through it all and find the true gems—or even to decide where to start at a very basic level. Most neighbourhoods will have their own collection of malls or independent boutiques to explore, so popping into these while you peruse the local area is an easy way to dip your toe into uncharted waters.
However, if you want to spend a weekend covering hotspots like Soho, it’s best to plan ahead to avoid an option overload. First, ask yourself if there’s something you’re looking to purchase or if you’re out for more of a window shop. If the former, it could be worth your while to do some research and go out of the way for one store. For everything else, consult this handy guide.
Credits: Tony Baggett
Department & Concept
Step into any of London’s major department stores and experience a true piece of history. Some have such storied pasts there are television shows about them and others are worth the trip just to take in the architecture. If contemporary is more up your street, London also hosts unique concept stores that bring together up-and-coming designers or pop-up collections you won’t find anywhere else. It’s hands-down the most efficient for taking in several brands and item categories in one convenient place.
- Selfridges (Marylebone)
- Harrods (Knightsbridge)
- Liberty London (Soho)
- Dover Street Market (St. James’s)
- Not Just Another Store (Shoreditch)
The best part about vintage shopping in London is that it doesn’t take much effort to get to the good stuff. Some collectors enjoy the thrill of the hunt and sifting through enormous racks, others prefer to spend a bit more cash in exchange for less time searching and frequent highly curated specialty stores. London’s offering includes a healthy mix of both experiences at all ends of the price spectrum.
- Lovers Lane (Notting Hill)
- Beyond Retro (Dalston)
- Hornets (Kensington)
- Rokit (Camden)
- Atika (Spitalfields)
London is a destination that great artists have flocked to for centuries. So, it comes as no surprise that the art available for purchase is top notch. East London is full of quirky galleries and flea markets to stumble upon, while central has larger fine art mainstays with big names. Alternatively, there are lots of art school degree shows at places like RCA or Chelsea College of Art if you’d like to support emerging talent.
- StolenSpace (Whitechapel)
- Jealous Gallery (Shoreditch)
- Magnum Photos (Clerkenwell)
- BSMT Space (Dalston)
- Halcyon Gallery (Mayfair)
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say London has one of the largest and most varied selection of covetable wines worldwide. Because Londoners love fine dining and drinking, importers always spoil us for choice. Combination wine-bar-bottle-shops are a common sight, as are standalones dedicated to the buzzy natural wine and orange wine categories. Some restaurants like trendy Planque offer wine club memberships with dedicated nights and meetups.
- Made In Little France (Multiple Locations)
- Hedonism Wines (Mayfair)
- Passione Vino (Shoreditch)
- Diogenes The Dog (Walworth)
- The Sampler (Islington)
There’s something extra romantic about London bookshops. Maybe it’s the Notting Hill effect but ducking into a side-street shop filled to the brim with books feels a little magical and full of promise on a weekend afternoon. Beautiful coffee table books, historic tomes, and the latest publications are all over the city. Easily packed into a suitcase, books make the perfect souvenir or gift from your time abroad. Plus, who knows, your own Hugh Grant or Julia Roberts moment might be waiting on your next visit.
- Daunt Books (Multiple Locations)
- Claire de Rouen (Bethnal Green)
- Libreria (Spitalfields)
- ICA Bookstore (St. James’s)
- Battersea Bookshop (Battersea)