Your guide to the UK’s retail-therapy mecca
Whether you prefer designer brands or discount shopping outlets, London’s one of the top destinations on Earth for rifling the racks. This captivating city is home to world-famous shops, from the quintessentially British department store Fortnum & Mason to Knightsbridge’s luxury goods purveyor Harrods. But that’s not all; there’s a huge range of must-visit shopping neighbourhoods scattered across this cosmopolitan metropolis. Here are 11 of the best:
1. High-street havens on Oxford Street
No London shopping trip is complete without a visit to Oxford Street. Head to this buzzing hub to browse high-street fashion at the area’s 27,400 square-metre Topshop, try on sunglasses at South Korean cult brand Gentle Monster, or chill on the rooftop terrace of the Uniqlo flagship. Scour the beauty section at Selfridges, then pop around the corner to Regent Street for selfies in front of Liberty’s Tudor-style facade. Up for some fun? Join the wide-eyed children at Hamley’s toy shop, the oldest and biggest in the world.
Go straight from the airport to the shops by dropping your suitcase off at the terminal – with our London airport luggage service, it’ll be waiting for you at your hotel!
2. Homeware and fashion at Westfield
The White City Westfield is now the biggest mall in Europe, housing shops such as Hugo Boss, Coach and Guess. It’s added a four-floor John Lewis department store too, offering 500 brands and a Smith & Sinclair gin bar where you can sip one of England’s best-loved tipples. The complex also has a wing called The Village, featuring more than 30 luxury outlets – think Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Prada – along with a multiplex cinema.
You’ll find it in Shepherd’s Bush, a bustling neighbourhood in West London. Use a handy London Pass, which includes an Oyster card, to get there quickly.
3. Designer discounts at Bicester Village
For money off designer goods, add a day trip from London to Bicester Village to your itinerary. This outlet has around 160 high-end stores to browse, with discounts of up to 60%. Wondering which shops are at Bicester Village? You’ll find top brands like The Kooples, Anya Hindmarch and Lacoste. Shop for classic handbags by Radley, statement shoes by Jimmy Choo and vintage-style jeans by Levi’s.
If you’re unsure how to get to Bicester Village from London, you can book a day shopping trip pass and you’ll get a flexible train ticket to take you there and back.
4. Cool finds at Covent Garden
Quaint Covent Garden is always lively, renowned for its cobbled square full of buskers and street performers. Oh, and it’s got shops too! You’ll find big names like Apple, Tiffany & Co and agnès b, as well as all-natural British labels such as Lush. Drop by Neal’s Yard for tiny boutiques in a colourful courtyard, or make your way down Flower Street to visit quirky Ted Baker’s first store in London.
Covent Garden is also the starting point of our historical London old city walking tour, so you can swiftly transform into a culture vulture once you’ve shopped ’til you’ve dropped.
5. Famous markets in Notting Hill
Improve your Instagram brand by taking snaps outside the multicoloured townhouses of Notting Hill. This neighbourhood is one of our favourites because of the bustling Portobello Street Market. Though mostly famous for antiques, it also has hundreds of fashion stalls on Saturdays. Pondering what to buy in London? An authentic keepsake from this vibrant corner of the city has to be top of the list.
For a scenic way to get there, sign up for a Hop On, Hop Off bus tour – make sure you grab a seat on the open-top deck!
6. Upscale boutiques on Chelsea’s King’s Road
Chelsea’s buzzing King’s Road boasts charming boutiques and indie labels as well as high-street shops. It’s an ideal place if you’re stocking up on homeware as it’s where you’ll find Cath Kidston (a nostalgic label that’s loved by Brits). The nearby Duke of York Square is also home to one of Europe’s biggest Zara stores. For a hint of history with your shopping, make a beeline for punk icon Vivienne Westwood’s first ever shop.
7. Luxury shopping in Knightsbridge
Pop to posh Knightsbridge for iconic London establishments like Harvey Nichols as well as designer labels such as Christian Louboutin, Giorgio Armani and Agent Provocateur. Wander round nearby Hyde Park, or be really English and take a boat out on the lake! Knightsbridge is also home to the ultra luxurious Harrods, where London’s elite stock up on vintage champagne and foie gras in one of the 330 ornately designed sections.
For a taste of the upper-class lifestyle, go for an afternoon tea at Harrods experience, which includes a cruise on the River Thames and a vintage bus tour.
8. Top-class tailoring at Savile Row
Savile Row is the place to go for anyone who’s (incredibly) serious about formal wear. This street is lined with independent tailors known for their dedication to quality; a bespoke suit here can cost upwards of $8,000. In recent years, international designers have also opened, with ready-to-wear and made-to-measure options at more affordable prices.
To get here by bus or underground, use the London Travelcard; you’ll get a third off river boats too!
9. Countercultural cool in Camden
Camden used to be the byword for all things alternative in London. While it still preserves its distinctive spirit, it now has high-street shops nestled among independent boutiques. Markets are also spread across the neighbourhood, from Camden Lock Market for artsy goods (including custom-painted Converse) to Camden Stables Market with its offbeat gifts and vintage clothing. The area welcomes 250,000 visitors a week and has a whole host of pop-up food stalls serving typical English grub (fish ‘n chips, sausage ‘n chips… you get the picture).
10. Hip boutiques in Spitalfields
Graffiti-covered East London has transformed into one of the most avant-garde parts of the city, with Old Spitalfields Market being a great area to shop for playful crafts and cutting-edge fashion. If you love vintage clothing – and curries! – make a detour to Brick Lane for retro stores dotted among Indian and Bangladeshi restaurants giving off aromatic scents.
This neighbourhood also provides an eye-catching backdrop for a private photo shoot tour, where you can get papped at various iconic areas across the city.
11. Cutting-edge commerce at Coal Drops Yard
Coal Drops Yard offers a mix of designer names you’ll know, plus independent stores you probably won’t. Its Victorian brick arches and futuristic roof also house popular places to eat and cultural corners to wander round. You’ll discover luxe beauty labels like Aesop alongside stylish department stores like Wolf & Badger.
It’s located in the thriving King’s Cross area in North London. While you’re here, take a snap of Platform 9 and 3/4s, one of the instantly recognisable stops if you go on a Harry Potter film location walking tour.
London’s shops will have you stocking up, whichever area you decide to visit!
For more information on the city’s bucket-list attractions and activities, take a look at all London offerings in the link below: