Shopping in London – stores and vintage shops guide


Shopping in London is one of the favorite things for many visitors that come to the city, and you don’t need to be a shopping maniac to know that. Even though we are not passionate shoppers, we must admit that visiting London is impossible without spending at least one afternoon browsing through the shop windows and shelves. Whether it is the most famous department stores or, even better, small vintage clothing shops or handmade accessories (of which the city is rich), you should spend at least a few hours and enjoy shopping in London.

The atmosphere in London shops is different from the atmosphere in Italian shops. In the English capital, novelties and traditions with British taste, vintage, and design blend together to create unique shops with a soul and elements that set them apart from the all-too-similar ones of the most famous brands. Here is a list of the city’s department stores and small shops that we recommend for shopping in London where you can experience that typically English sensation of tradition and modernity.

This large multi-story red brick building is the symbol of shopping in London, or at least of very expensive shopping. In fact, here you can find all the biggest international clothing brands, but besides this, there are also entire floors dedicated to technology, food, and toys. By the way, have you ever taken a stroll through Harrods’ toy department? We recommend it to those traveling with their children, but also to adults who are still enchanted by the charm of the world of toys.

Harrods shopping in London
Harrods store (Image source: Flickr)

Shall we talk about the women’s shoe department? A dream for all women who collect shoes. A floor where shoes of all kinds are displayed side by side, mostly luxury brands, from Prada to Jimmy Choo, from Louboutin to Dior. From here, you can go in a labyrinth of corridors, stairs, and elevators, and reach other floors and departments brimming with high-end products, from clothing to technology, from makeup to sought-after food from around the world.

Those who unfortunately do not have a credit card with an unlimited spending limit should not worry. At Harrods, you can also find more affordable items, maybe one of Harrod’s branded souvenirs (bags, cups, plush toys, tea, and biscuits) located in a special section on the ground floor or one of the special brands of English tea that you can buy in the food area.

Here is one fun fact about the most famous department stores in London. Did you know that Harrods has always been the department store supplier of products for Buckingham Palace? However, following the clashes that arose after the deaths of Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed (son of Mohamed Al-Fayed, until a few years ago the owner of the department store), this historic supply relationship came to an end.

Here is another department store in the style of Harrods not far from Piccadilly Circus where you can indulge in London shopping. It is a multi-story building with various departments, from floors entirely dedicated to women’s and men’s fashion, to the home furnishing department and home accessories, the department with the latest technologies, and the one with books. Inside, the department store is bright, with a central escalator that allows you to go up and down between the various floors. Here, too, prices are not particularly low-cost, but you can find many more affordable things than at Harrods!

If you desire a department store for your London shopping but prefer it with a unique style and architecture, then you have to go to Liberty. Liberty’s uniqueness is noticeable far from the outside. Even those who don’t know it and find themselves in front of its entrance by accident cannot remain indifferent to this Victorian building dating back to the 1800s.

Liberty store in London
Liberty department store (Image source: Flickr)

Once you enter, you will be further amazed. The furnishings are made of inlaid wood, while the environment is warm and cozy. It spans several floors, and the clothes and accessories sold inside are mostly designer and, therefore, very expensive! Liberty also produces and sells a line of clothing for men and women and accessories such as scarves, jewelry, and glasses with different vintage floral prints.

Carnaby Street is one of the most renowned shopping streets in London. It’s very charming with its small colorful shops. What we like most about this shopping street is that, in addition to the shops of famous brands like Converse, Diesel, Vans, Replay, etc., you can also find small shops that sell more unique clothes, accessories, and items.

Hamley’s is definitely a paradise for children. It is a multi-story toy store where you can find every type of entertainment for the little ones, and try it out! Like in Harrods’ toy department, there are shop assistants who play, encouraging you to try out the toys for yourself… and therefore to buy them. Outside, there are often life-size puppets inviting families and children to enter to discover the wonders of the world of toys.

For us, entering Hamley’s was like becoming a child again. So parents with children, if you want to make your little ones happy, stopping here is something you should not miss. This amazing store is located on Regent Street so it’s practically impossible not to pass by at least once during a visit to London.

Let’s change genre and head to a perfect shop for those who love travel, books, and maps, and would make their purchase their reason for living. A short walk from Covent Garden you will find Stanfords, a shop that boasts having maps for every destination in the world! This traveler’s paradise includes travel-themed books, travel guides, maps, travel accessories, globes, and more generally everything related to the theme.

Standfords store in London
Standfords library in London (Image source: Flickr)

A stop at Stanfords is a must for both adults and children since there are also sections dedicated to children inside. For those who want a preview of what they will find inside or want to order something online from home, the Stanfords website is very well organized, and everything that can be purchased in-store is also available for sale on the website.

Not far from Stanfords, continuing towards Leicester Square, there is a small alley that seems to come out of one of the Harry Potter movies. Not by chance, it seems that Cecil Court was actually the inspiration for J.K. Rowling. It is a small pedestrian street lined with shops and windows full of used books, prints, and maps from other eras. It’s worth entering these shops to breathe in the scent of old books, flip through them, and, why not, buy a slightly dated souvenir of London.

In the heart of Brick Lane, a large space hosts Rough Trade East, a large independent music store where music lovers (in the form of books, CDs, vinyl, and more) can find what they are looking for. The first Rough Trade store was also a record label, Rough Trade Records, which became the label for bands like The Smiths and The Libertines.

But, the owners separated, and the only shop that remained was the one in Brick Lane, opened in 2007 in the Truman’s Brewery building, a brewery that was one of the most important in the world at the end of the 1800s and which today – although it has changed ownership several times – is still operational.

Are you sure you want to leave London without first enjoying a good cup of real English tea? There are many tea rooms in London, which are certainly less mainstream than the one we are about to recommend, but the Twinings Shop is an institution, and it’s hard not to mention it!

During a walk in the city, it’s worth stopping at the Strand which, founded by Thomas Twining in 1706, was the first shop in the world where you could buy tea. Today, inside, you can buy every type of tea from well-known brands, cups, and accessories, and compose your own tea box, choosing from the available blends. There is also a museum, where you can discover the history of the beverage, the tea bar, and the opportunity to take part in tea master classes where you taste various tea blends.

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