Whenever you visit London, chances are at some point during your visit you will end up with a little (or not so little) shopping trip.
And why wouldn’t you. There are plenty of stores, catering for all budgets and tastes. From high-end designer shops to well-known mainstream chains to the vintage and unique.
So to help you pick the right shops for your taste and budget, here a quick overview of shopping areas in London.
Best places to shop in London
(this list is by no means absolute and might be updated from time to time)
The big department stores
Who hasn’t heard of Harrods? Any raised hands here? Nah, didn’t think so.
But Harrods isn’t the only old department store in London. You also have Selfridges in Oxford Street, Liberty in Great Marlborough Street and Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly.
Whilst they might not be for everyday shopping, they sure are worth a visit and browse. Especially in the run up to Christmas. Their Christmas windows, decorations and Christmas departments are an absolute must-see.
Harrods, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason also offer a magnificent food department, with mouth-watering cakes, meats and chocolates (and whilst Liberty does not have a whole food department, it also offers a splendid selection of chocolates).
Head to Fortnum & Mason for traditional afternoon tea (and maybe you are lucky enough to bump into a member of the Royal Family there) and pick up a F&M food hamper as a gorgeous gift for your loved ones (if you are flying back via Heathrow T5, you can also pick up the F&M food hamper there, saves you worrying how to get it through security).
Liberty has a stunning collection of own patterns, which you can either buy as fabric by the meter or as Liberty exclusive items (their silk scarves are well worth a look). Every now and then they run collaborations with designers featuring these exclusive Liberty patterns.
The high-end designer shops
If you are looking for the high-end designer flagship stores, London is the place to go. Head to Knightsbridge and Kings Road and you will find a huge selection of clothing brands. Head to Bond Street for the big jewellery names.
The mainstream high-street fashion brands
For your everyday clothes shopping the best place is still Oxford Street. Spanning from Tottenham Court Road to Marble Arch is a large selection of well-known high-street brands, plus large department stores like John Lewis, Debenhams and House of Fraser that house several brands under one roof.
And whilst you are in the area, don’t forget to visit Carnaby Street for the quirkier and less mainstream shops.
The shopping malls
If you want a weather safe shopping option, head to one of the two large Westfield shopping centers, one in Stratford, one in Shepherd’s Bush. Both will have a selection of high-street brands as well as some designer stores, paired with lots of restaurants and entertainment. And both have the obvious advantage of being covered, so you are save should the English weather deliver what you expect.
The market halls and independent boutiques
Whether you go to Covent Garden, Greenwich Market or Spitalfields Market, you will find a nice mix of old and new, mainstream and individual boutiques at all three locations. Usually paired with an artisan food market (at least some days of the week) and good restaurants and coffee shops. So wander the side roads and see what hidden gems you’ll discover.
The vintage shops
Vintage shopping has been a big thing for years now and you will find a large selection of vintage shops dotted around London. Head to Brick Lane and the East End for loads of vintage shops, some offering a bit of everything, some a little more specialized.
Camden, Brick Lane Sunday Up, Portobello Road, Columbia Road, to name just a few. There are plenty of markets all over London. Whilst most of them will have at least some stalls and shops open all days of the week, they usually have one or two main days where all stalls are open. So check what day is best before heading there.
The charity shops
You never know what you’ll find in a charity shop. But it is usually worth a look (at least in my opinion). Not just for clothes, also for books, all kind of household items and bric-a-brac. You will find charity shops in all parts of London, but obviously not all are equal. Most of the times the shops will offer what people in that area have donated. So go to the slightly wealthier parts of London for the slightly nicer finds (I love browsing through the charity shops around Hammersmith and Kings Road for example). However nowadays chances are slim that you’ll stumble across an unrecognized designer bag for a fiver.
Oxfam has a dedicated charity shop in Notting Hill (the Oxfam Boutique in Westbourne Grove, just off Portobello Road) where they specialize in designer labels and high end clothing.
Obviously charity shops are a good way of doing your bit, so don’t only go bargain hunting there, bring a bag of own things to donate in exchange, to give a little yourself.
Have I forgotten anything? Any suggestions what needs to go onto this list?