apoleon famously referred to England as a nation of shopkeepers. Two hundred years later, London remains one of the best places in the world to go shopping. Big-name emporiums such as Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Hamleys, Fortnum & Mason and Liberty are both sightseeing attractions in their own right and temples for shopping devotees, while side-street boutiques and lively markets abound.
We’ve listed some of the most popular places to shop below, and you can also browse our recommendations and check out every Lonely Planet-reviewed shop in London.
Clerkenwell, Shoreditch & Spitalfields
This is London’s trendiest shopping area. It’s home to Sunday’s fabulous Spitalfields Market, where young, cutting-edge designers display their creations, while Brick Lane, Dray Walk, Redchurch and Cheshire Streets are full of quirky shops, vintage dens and cool homeware. At Boxpark, a series of shipping containers have been turned into a hip mini mall. Come here to search out small boutiques for something unique.
Visit, but don’t shop at the touristy old market hall. Instead branch out into the little side streets for a whole lot of cool fashion, and hit Long Acre and Neal St for less hectic high-street chains. Sniff out Neal’s Yard Dairy for more than 70 varieties of cheese or head to Poste Mistress (twitter.com/PosteMistress) for fabulous footwear.
Offering an ocean of consumers, a sprinkling of souvenir shops and dawdling traffic, Oxford St can feel simultaneously overwhelming (thanks to its crowds) and underwhelming (regarding its offerings). But if you’re looking for a bustling shopping street and the headquarters of the chain stores, this is the place to come: alongside massive H&Ms, Zaras, Urban Outfitters and Top Shops are large department stores such as John Lewis, Debenhams and Selfridges.
Buzzy Camden Market is packed with stalls and is enormously popular – visit during the week if you want a quieter vibe. The goods themselves can vary in quality, but there’s plenty of classic alternative gear here.
High Street Kensington
The less crowded, more salubrious alternative to Oxford St, this has all the high-street chains, plus trendy stores such as Miss Sixty (No 42) and Urban Outfitters (No 36–38). Snap up antiques along Church St.