Shopping in London

You’ll be spoilt for choice when shopping in London! You can choose whether to try some of the typical high street shops in Britain; the luxurious department stores; the amazing markets; or the trendy boutiques. For real bargains, we recommend that you visit some of the markets where all manner of items can be bought. Tracking down real bargains might take a while, but it will be fun!

High Street Shopping in London

Hit any of the following “high streets” and you’ll be sure to see some kind of pattern. They all have a mixture of clothes, shoe and accessory shops; electronics stores; multimedia stores; bookstores; many, many mobile phone stores (it appears to be an epidemic); a department store; and then your regulation coffee house or two. That’s not too say you shouldn’t go to them…but perhaps just stick to one! The best bargains are to be had during the sales; unlike in some European countries, sales are not limited to only certain times of the year – shops can have sales pretty much any time. The best sale periods tend to be after Christmas (the “January sales”) and in mid-summer. These days, however, sale periods seem to stretch out even longer and occur more frequently. It’s also not that unusual to see some kind of sales rack in many clothes stores all year round.

Opening hours of high-street stores tend to be from 9am/10am to 6pm. You will find that department stores stay open until a little later (7pm), as do certain other stores (very often the case with music ‘megastores’ or bookshops). Late-night shopping in London happens on a Thursday – stores stay open until around 8 or 9pm.

Kensington High Street
Underground: High Street Kensington
Can get pretty crazed at weekends, but during the week it isn’t too bad – and, unfortunately, the effects of the Westfield shopping mall opening in nearby Shepherd’s Bush has meant Kensington High Street has suffered somewhat, with a number of stores closing down. The Underground stop is right in the middle, so you’ll have to go in one direction, and then make your way back.

Best shops: There’s a nice, reasonably sized Zara, as well as a good Urban Outfitters for clothes and quirky items. Warehouse and Topshop are top picks for clothes, Kurt Geiger has lovely shoes. You can’t go wrong with the staple Marks and Spencer even if just for food! The UK’s first Whole Foods is also here although that’s a pretty pricey place! Nevermind – you can always pop in and admire.

London Budget Tip: Check out TK Maxx for discount fashion, accessories, homewares and more.

King’s Road
Underground: Sloane Square
One of my favourites for the variety and choice of shops in a very pretty location! There’s a real mixture of chain shops and quirky one-offs, with many a cafe mixed in.

Best shop: Peter Jones department store on Sloane Square.

Oxford Street
Underground: Marble Arch, Bond Street, Oxford Circus or Tottenham Court Road
Any of these Underground stops will take you to the sights and sounds of Oxford Street shopping, probably THE high street in London, judging by the amount and selection of stores. If you want to start at either end of the street, get off at Marble Arch or Tottenham Court Road stations and work your way up or down (or, technically, east or west) the street. Oxford Street is probably the most crowded of all London’s high streets, and is pretty busy whenever you go.

Best shops: There’s the flagship Top Shop store at Oxford Circus, a must-visit for young fashion followers, that has great clothes at low prices that are bang on trend. Adjoined to it is a Miss Selfridge which is similar. Selfridges department store – which is a must – is near Bond Street tube. The giant Primark near Marble Arch is many a visitor’s top clothes shopping stop when visiting London, and that’s definitely a place to acquire some remarkably cheap fashions.

Regent Street
Underground: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus
Perpendicular to Oxford Street from Oxford Circus, there aren’t as many stores here as the former but it’s a street still worth visiting.
Best shops: Liberty department store is a definite must, even just for the architecture of the building it’s in! Hamleys, one of the most famous toy shops in the world, is another recommendation, especially if you have little ones in tow. The Apple store, near Oxford Circus, is also a wonderous place and was the UK’s first.

London Department Stores

87 Brompton Road, SW1
Underground: Knightsbridge
Whether or not you’ve come to London to shop, the Harrods experience is an absolute must. The ornate decoration inside the store is outstanding (and the exterior is not too shabby either!), and the selection of items, departments and services is quite amazing – there’s even a pet store. Definitely take a wander through the food hall – it’s magnificent. For a treat, stop off at one of the cafes or eateries inside the store – it won’t be cheap, however!

Regent Street, W1
Underground: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus
Quite a hip and trendy department store, yet rather traditional too. One of the smaller ones featured here, it’s another great place to do a bit of browsing and window shopping for the items it sells (a large variety – although mainly focusing on clothes and accessories) are beautiful.

Harvey Nichols
109 – 125 Knightsbridge, SW1
Underground: Knightsbridge
This department store is at the trendier end of the scale, concentrating on designer fashions and accessories. Quite a few stylish restaurants within the store, and its interestingly artistic window displays are definitely worth a look.

Peter Jones
Sloane Square SW1
Underground: Sloane Square
Peter Jones (of the John Lewis chain) has always been traditionally British, with its slogan “never knowingly undersold”. This store underwent a refit a few years ago, and is now more suitably modern! There is also a John Lewis store in Oxford Street and one in the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre in East London, but we think the one in Chelsea is probably the finest of the bunch.

400 Oxford Street, W1
Underground: Bond Street
A truly huge department store, there’s a great selection of almost everything! Fantastic clothes, cosmetics and accessories departments, as well as a sumptuous food hall and home furnishings and technology departments. There are also numerous eating places – from proper restaurants to snack and cafe places – dotted throughout the store.

Shopping Malls in London

There aren’t many shopping malls or centres in London itself, and it’s not an especially common concept in the UK overall. Recently, however, two mega-malls opened up in the city – Westfield London (Underground: Shepherd’s Bush, White City or Wood Lane) in West London and Westfield Stratford City in East London. Both have an interesting mix of high-end (Dior, Tiffany, Louis Vuitton) and high street (Gap, Top Shop, Oasis) shops. Both can be a little manic at times (try to avoid weekends or school holidays) although both stay open late, Monday to Saturday.

Alternatively, you have the Brent Cross Shopping Centre in North London (Underground: Brent Cross or Hendon Central) which is smaller but still has a good selection of shops.

London Markets

There are numerous London markets all around the capital (there’s a great map detailing them all at, selling a variety of things, from food to clothing to antiques. Markets are also a great, cheap sight in London – it’s fascinating walking through any one of them, checking out all the wares. (And even if you do end up buying something, it may not be that expensive.) Please remember, however, that not all markets are open everyday, so be sure to check operating times to avoid disappointment. Here are some that we recommend you take a look at.

Borough Market
Borough High Street, South Bank, SE1
Underground: London Bridge
Open: 12pm – 6pm Fri; 9am to 4pm Sat
Probably the best food market in London, and certainly the most comprehensive – cakes and pastries; cheeses; confectionary; juices; meat; fish; fruit and veg; pies and sausages…the list goes on. A good deal of organic produce too.

Brick Lane Market
Brick Lane, EC1
Underground: Aldgate East or Shoreditch
Open: 8am to 1pm Sundays
Sells just about anything! From colourful little knick-knacks to all manner of things – magazine, chocolates, CDs..

Camden Market
Camden High Street, NW1
Underground: Camden Town
Open: 10.30am – 6pm Monday – Friday, 10am – 6pm Saturdays and Sundays
Previously the domain of tourists and impressionable teenagers going through a grunge/nu-metal/emo phase (depending on the era, obviously!), Camden market is still very popular and gets plenty of visitors as its considered something of an “alternative” attraction in London. It’s a pretty crowded place any day of the week – just try to avoid going there during the school holidays, when many a youngster and their friends have decided to act cool and hang out there.

Camden Lock Market
54-56 Camden Lock Place, Chalk Farm Road NW1
Underground: Camden Town
Open: 10.30am – 6pm Monday – Friday, 10am – 6pm Saturdays and Sundays
If you’ve gone to the above and seen a little too much tat and leather (or leather tat?) then come here. Alternatively, skip the above entirely and come here instead! A really wonderful collection of stalls, many of which sell handmade goods – bags, jewellery, greetings cards, toys and similar. There’s also plenty more besides, but all of its rather tasteful and pleasant, which makes this a really lovely market to visit and pick up a little trinket or two. There’s also plenty of food stalls selling delicious and at times unusual cuisines – Peruvian, anyone?

Portobello Market
Portobello Road, W11
Underground: Notting Hill Gate
Open: Antiques 8am to 6pm Sat; Clothes 7am to 4pm Fri, 8am to 5pm Sat; general 8am to 6pm Mon- Wed, 9am to 1pm Thur, 7am to 7pm Fri & Sat
The best days to go are Fridays and Saturdays, although the latter day can get extremely busy – especially in summer! On Fridays you’ll find numerous clothes stalls (towards the Westway overpass) selling items for a variety of budgets; you can still, however, be assured of getting some bargains (leather jacket for £20, anyone?) although this may take some hunting – better to get there early. On Saturdays, the road is lined with antiques stalls where you just might be able to find a hidden treasure. On weekdays you’ll be able to buy fresh fruit and veg.