London shopping guide: the best shops to visit in London

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London is a shopping mecca – it’s a cliché but it’s true. From department stores to boutiques, fast fashion to specialty stores you can buy anything you want.

Here is my London shopping guide – favourite places to shop in London where you may find some treasures and can while away a few hours.

This guide features stores you won’t find in many other places around the world because when you are in London you want a truly London experience and pick up something you would not find at home.

After all, there’s nothing better than saying “I got it in London!” when you are complimented on a new purchase, is there?

Top London department stores

Liberty – Regent Street, London

Liberty is my absolute favourite place to shop and browse in London. Quintessentially British, the iconic mock Tudor store  was built with the timbers from two ships and the stairs creak as you climb up and down the floors.

From fashion, stationery, beauty and homewares to the famous fabrics, here you will find a beautifully curated collection of lovely things.

I think Oscar Wilde said it best –

Liberty is the chosen resort of the artistic shopper

And in case you missed it, here is a link to the tv show Liberty of London that takes a behind the scenes look at the goings on at the store.

Selfridges & Co – 400 Oxford Street, London

Selfridges is a one stop shop for practically anything you can thing of. Covering an entire block, the store houses high and fast fashion, homewares, a lovely food hall, books and technology as well as a myriad of services from denim specialists to tarot readers.

There are also over 15 bars, restaurants and snack outlets on site.

Fortnum and Mason – 181 Piccadilly, London

Known as “Fortnums”, this gorgeous store is a London institution for famous English foodstuffs like marmalade and shortbread but it’s also a place to buy luxurious items such as wicker picnic hampers to Fabergé eggs.

It’s worth stopping by Fortnums to gaze at the gorgeous window displays or for afternoon tea whatever the season but at Christmas time the store is simply buzzing with activity.

Harrods – 87-135 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge

When you think of luxury and London, Harrods is probably the first place that springs to mind. It’s an institution and you absolutely must visit once in your life.

The food hall is huge and famous for its high end grocery and restaurants. I believe there are two caviar bars!

Beyond the food hall, you will find most luxury and premium brands in all the departments. The kids toy section is particularly good.

Fenwick – 63 New Bond Street, London

Fenwick is refined and fun. This store stocks carefully curated designer and up and coming labels, beauty and interior accessories.

Best London fashion stores

& Other Stories – 256-258 Regent Street, London

Not the easiest name to remember but hard to miss the store on Regent Street, & Other Stories is a huge emporium of fashion, accessories and beauty. The collection is driven by a team of designers from Sweden and France and you can find interesting, high quality items at a reasonable price. 

Whistles – various locations across London

For fresh, modern, contemporary British style at affordable prices take a look at Whistles. The brand has both women’s and men’s collections and I can always find something covetable there each season.

The Shop at Bluebird – 350 Kings Road, London

I think the term “concept store” is incredibly overused but if you wanted to be definitive you should look at The Shop at Bluebird. Here you will find iconic high end fashion alongside up and and coming designers, art and other beautiful objects.

A truly sensory experience, the store takes its inspiration from 1960s Chelsea – a thriving hub of creativity.

Best London gift shops

Cath Kidston – various locations across London

Described as a “modern vintage” brand, Cath Kidston stocks a wide range of goods from women’s and children’s wear to accessories and homewares in trademark floral and London prints.

Penhaligons – 10 locations across London

Penhaligon’s has been crafting unique fragrances from rare and unusual ingredients since its origins in the 19th century.  Here you can buy gifts from a selection of candles, toiletries and of course fragrance to this day packaged in bottles of the same design from 135 years ago.

Hamley’s – 188-196 Regent’s Street, London

One of the world’s most famous toy stores is worth a visit for the free entertainment on offer as soon as you reach the store front. Unfortunately, the range of toys is not as great as you would imagine and the prices are very high.

Museum and Gallery shops in London

British museums and afternoon tea seem to have an endless supply of cleverly curated merchandise tailored to their permanent and temporary exhibits. It’s definitely worth spending a few minutes browsing their stores to that special souvenir or gift.

Try the V&A, British Museum, Tate Modern, National Gallery and Science Museum in particular.

Royal Academy of Arts Jewellery Range

Best bookshops in London

Waterstones – 203/206 Piccadilly, London

I can’t recall being in a larger bookstore. Waterstones Piccadilly is truly mammoth stocking over 200,000 titles throughout 6 floors.  You could easily spend several hours browsing the shelves with huge sections on history and art as well as a wonderful children’s section.  If you are looking for London themed gifts and books you will find a great selection here.

Hatchards -187 Piccadilly, London

For a more atmospheric book buying experience head to Hatchards, London’s oldest bookstore. The store is instantly recognisable along Piccadilly for its distinctive wood panelled exterior. I love to browse the titles as I meander around the creaky six floors of this eighteenth century building. Hatchards stocks special editions of many writers so if a first edition volume of T.S. Eliot’s prose is on your wish list you may very well find it here.

Daunt Books – 83 Marylebone High Street, London and 5 other locations

Daunts specialises in travel and literature titles. Housed in a beautiful Edwardian building with long oak galleries, wooden staircases and soaring stained glass windows, I always feel like I am in a very special kind of bookstore when I visit.

I’d love to hear about your favourite shops in London too – drop me a line or comment below.

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