The West End
Oxford Street is undeniably the West End's main shopping attraction. Start at Marble Arch -- the westernmost end -- for an enormous branch of budget clothes chain Primark and designer department store Selfridges. As you walk the length of the famous street toward Tottenham Court Road, you'll notice that the quality of shops goes downhill, especially east of Oxford Circus. Think bargain basement tat and cheap souvenirs, and you have the idea. Topshop remains an Oxford Street must-visit (the branch here is the largest clothes shop in Europe), and a giant New Look close to Marble Arch offers yet more great value clothes. You're certainly very brave to attempt Oxford Street at the weekend; weekday mornings are best for your sanity.
Oxford Street is also a great starting point for hitting the more interesting shopping areas, such as affluent Marylebone. If you're looking for some extreme shopping adventures, this is where London's top plastic surgeons are based -- and it's impossible not to fall in love with the quaintness of Marylebone's main street. The street's chocolate shops and interiors brands ooze luxury.
Regent Streetcrosses Oxford Street at Oxford Circus. Regent Street shopping is more toward the high end of "high street," typified by the affordable luxury of chain shops such as Mango and French Connection. Boutique lifestyle shop Anthropologie is a relatively new addition, but is expensive in comparison to its U.S. equivalent. Head south from Oxford Circus for the world-famous Liberty department store. Inside a mock-Tudor building, Liberty is a London landmark. You're now at the top of Carnaby Street, and although it's not quite the Sixties' style mecca it once was, it's worth a stroll -- especially if you veer off into the Newburgh Quarter. The area is also home to Kingly Court, a gorgeous little piazza of independent shops and vintage boutiques -- the cafes are generally overpriced, but do provide a great perch to sit and people-watch.
Parallel to Regent Street, the Bond Street area connects Piccadilly with Oxford Street, and is synonymous with the luxury rag trade. It's not just one street, but a whole area, mainly comprising New Bond Street and Old Bond Street. It's the hot address for international labels anddesigner jewelry shops. A slew of international hotshots, from Chanel to Versace, have digs nearby. Make sure you stop off at Dover Street Market -- not a market at all, but actually a designer shop housing all sorts of fashionable folk under one roof.
Burlington Arcade (Tube: Piccadilly Circus), a glass-roofed Regency passage leading off Piccadilly, looks like a period exhibition, and is lined with 35 mahogany-fronted intriguing shops and boutiques. Lit by wrought-iron lamps and decorated with clusters of ferns and flowers, its small, upscale stores specialize in fashion, gold jewelry, Irish linen, and cashmere. If you linger there until 5:30pm, you can watch the beadles (the last London representatives of Britain's oldest police force), in their black-and-yellow livery and top hats, ceremoniously place the iron grills that block off the arcade until 9am, at which time they remove them to start a new business day. Also at 5:30pm, the Burlington Bell is sounded, signaling the end of trading. Make sure to catch the clock at Fortnum and Mason -- it moves on the hour.
Nearby Jermyn Street (Tube: Piccadilly Circus), on the south side of Piccadilly, is a tiny two-block street devoted to high-end men's haberdashers and toiletries shops; many have been doing business for centuries. Several hold Royal warrants, including Turnbull & Asser, 71-72 Jermyn St. (tel. 020/7808-3000), where HRH Prince Charles has his PJs made. A bit to the northwest, Savile Row is where you'll find London's finest men's tailors.
The West End theatre district borders two more shopping areas: the still-not-ready-for-prime-time Soho (Tube: Tottenham Court Rd. or Leicester Sq.), where the sex shops are slowly morphing into cutting-edge designer boutiques -- check out clothing exchange Bang Bang, 9 Berwick St. (tel. 020/7494-2042), for designer bargains -- and Covent Garden, a shopping masterpiece stocked with fashion, food, books, and everything else. The original Covent Garden marketplace has overflowed its boundaries and eaten up the surrounding neighborhood; it's fun to shop the narrow streets. Just off trendy Neal Street and Seven Dials, Neal's Yard is a stunning splash of color on rainy days if you're looking to buy foodstuffs from Neal's Yard Dairy. Monmouth Street is somewhat of a local secret. Many shops here serve as outlets for British designers, selling both used and new clothing. In addition, stores specialize in everything from musical instruments from the Far East to palm readings. Make sure, too, to take in Charing Cross Road and get your nose into one of the many secondhand bookshops. You can't avoid Foyles (and nor should you), but the smaller shops have some great options and well-priced first editions if you're particular about your Pulitzers.
If you're heading west, the first place you should find yourself in is Notting Hill. Of course, one of the main draws for shopping in West London is Portobello Market. Every Sunday, the whole of Portobello Road turns into a sea of antiques, cool clothing (and even cooler shoppers), and maybe even a celebrity or three.
Some of the best boutiques in London are also here. The independent shopping scene thrives; this is an area where people want to be unique, but still look expensive and groomed. Expect one-off, vintage-style dresses, quirky homewares, and more than a handful of retro record shops. Stick to Portobello for antiques, but head to Westbourne Grove and Ledbury Road for boutiques.
West London is also home to two American-style shopping malls. Westfield takes up residence in Shepherd's Bush and Whiteleys sits in Bayswater. They're huge, they have everything, and they're busy. If it's raining and you still want your high-street shops, head here. Just don't expect to find anything special or out of the ordinary.
The home of Harrods, Knightsbridge is probably the second-most famous London retail district (Oxford Street just edges it out). Sloane Street is traditionally regarded as a designer area, but these days it's more "upscale high-street," and nowhere near as luxurious as Bond Street .
Walk southwest on Brompton Road -- toward the V&A Museum -- and you'll find Cheval Place, lined with designer resale shops, and Beauchamp Place (pronounced Bee-cham). It's high end, but with a hint of irony. Expect to see little lapdogs in handbags.
If you walk farther along Brompton Road, you'll connect to Brompton Cross, another hip area for designer shops made popular when Michelin House was rehabbed by Sir Terence Conran, becoming the Conran Shop. Seek out Walton Street, a tiny snake of a street running from Brompton Cross back toward the museums. Most of the shops here specialize in nonessential luxury products, the kind a severe Victorian moralist might dismiss as "vanities and fripperies." You'll also be near King's Road (Tube: Sloane Sq.); once a beacon of Sixties cool, this became a haven for designer clothes and homewares but is gradually becoming more corporate.
Finally, don't forget all those museums in nearby South Kensington. They have fantastic and exclusive gift shops. If you're looking for jewelry and homewares, the V&A and the Design Museum are must-visits. The Science Museum shop is perfect for inquisitive youngsters. Make sure to view the collections, too. They're free, and have some world-class exhibits.
Kensington High Street (Tube: High St. Kensington) is the hangout of the classier breed of teen, one who has graduated from Carnaby Street. While there are a few staples of basic British fashion here, most of the stores feature items that can be described as modern classics with a twist. Think black, well cut, and tailored, with a fun edge for the youngsters. From Kensington High Street, you can walk up Kensington Church Street. Like Portobello Road, this is one of the city's main shopping avenues for antiques, offering everything from antique furniture to Impressionist paintings.
Insider Tip: Kensington might scream money, but there are still places to pick up a bargain. The charity shops here (particularly along Kensington Church Street) are full of designer bargains. After all, where else is London's upper crust going to drop off last season's clobber? It might not be good enough for them, but if you're looking for cut-price Gucci and Pucci, that's where you'll find it. That's not to say you'll be paying pennies for your wares (the people who work here aren't stupid), but you can pick up a vintage bargain and do your bit for charity at the same time. There's nothing better than virtuous shopping, is there?
Herne Hill (Train: Herne Hill) and Dulwich (Train: North Dulwich) merge slightly, and both attract a "yummy mummy" crowd -- that's middle-class mothers with posh buggies, in case you're wondering -- but the shops also benefit from a local community vibe. It's certainly worth browsing here, in preference to Clapham -- which apart from a few gems such as Lisa Stickley, is unlikely to wow you.
The best place for shopping in London's far southwest is Chiswick (Tube: Turnham Green), which has always had a thriving artsy community. This is where you'll find modern little galleries on the corner of residential streets, and unique homewares retailers such as Eco as well as pop-up stores (temporary shops). It's still a mostly residential suburb, but there's always something new happening here, especially when it comes to shopping. Start your browsing along Devonshire Road and follow your senses.
The South Bank
Apart from Gabriel's Wharf, the South Bank isn't really a shopping destination on its own -- although the area is slowly getting a facelift. The OXO Tower, Bargehouse St. (tel. 020/7021-1600; Tube: Waterloo), now has a collection of upscale boutiques in its lower floors, and Hay's Galleria, 2 Battle Bridge Lane (tel. 020/7403-3583; Tube: London Bridge), by the Tooley Street entrance to London Bridge station, is cute. Borough Market brings foodie crowds south in their droves, as does Tate Modern with its fabulous shop for artsy visitors and locals.
Something delightful happens to the area over Christmas, however. There's a Christmas Market, which stretches along the whole South Bank, offering festive delights. Everything from food to Christmas decorations can be bought, all before taking a trip to see Santa himself. There's also a Slow Food Market in winter (visit www.slowfood.org.uk), offering roasted meats and chutneys and foods that you'll want to savor.
The City & East London
The financial district itself doesn't really offer much in the way of shopping -- especially at the weekend, when everything tends to be shut. However, a new shopping center, One New Change, is attracting a rich crowd for its luxury goods. It's opposite the eastern end of St. Paul's Cathedral. You'll also find a handful of tailors in the area, and there are several high-end brands in the nearby Royal Exchange (www.theroyalexchange.com; Tube: Bank). Unless you're often suited up for work, however, it's really not a shopping destination by itself.
Wander west from St. Paul's and you'll wind up in the jewelry district around Hatton Garden (Tube: Chancery Lane). On Saturdays it's a sea of nervous men hunting the perfect engagement ring. If you're not in the market for fancy finger adornments, Lamb's Conduit Street is a short stroll farther west. It's a beautiful street, full of history -- and now independent shops and restaurants.
Continue your adventure farther east on Commercial Street (Tube: Liverpool Street/Train: Shoreditch High Street), Shoreditch. This is where you'll find the best vintage shops in the city. They're on almost every corner, and new ones seem to appear every day, alongside pop-up stores just here for the weekend andthe antiques market in Spitalfields.
A short stroll north, Columbia Road is more than just a flower market; in many ways, the main attractions are the artist studios that line the street. Head up every single one of those staircases you see. If the door is open, you're allowed in.
Shoppers should split north London in two: Camden (Tube: Camden Town) has its heavy metal and Goth shops; Primrose Hill (Tube: Chalk Farm) and its surrounds has perfect little streets full of local finds. The two could not be more different, but that doesn't mean either is less enticing.
Camden could never be dull. Even if the bustling high street with its black leather-clad crowds isn't your thing, it's worth a stroll just for the spectacle: street-food stalls and Goths in full make-up at lunchtime against a backdrop of Camden Lock and the canal. Camden Market itself has changed somewhat since a fire in 2008. The refurbishment has tidied things up a little, although many would argue that some of the charm has gone with it. The stalls are back, the Stables area is more exciting, and everything is just perhaps a little more refined; it still has some rough Camden charm, but also a wider appeal, whether you're looking for neon industrial clubwear or handmade jewelry. It's best to avoid the food stalls, though.
Primrose Hill is Camden's northern neighbor, and the Cinderella to North London's ugly sister. Everything is pretty, perfect, and rather posh. Designer stores, chi-chi art galleries, and overpriced clothes are what you'll find in this part of town.
Angel -- in Islington, south and east of Camden -- bridges the gap between indie and vintage cool, and luxury and boutique style. Head to Camden Passage for the best of vintage. The weekend market stalls are interesting, but the real charm lies in the street's small shops. Upscale vintage and specialized antiques flank both sides, leading up to Essex Road and Upper Street. Both these major thoroughfares have shops lining them: Essex Road is good for independent designers; Upper Street sticks to high-street and specialist chains.
Although many London stores now open on Sundays, the best weekend shopping is still the stalls of Greenwich's flea and craft markets. The ideal way to arrive is to float downstream on a boat from Embankment or Westminster piers. The trip takes about a half-hour. Both the DLR station (Cutty Sark) and the pier are minutes from the indoor craft market, which is held Wednesday through Sunday. Greenwich town center isn't very big: Follow the signs -- or the crowd -- and you'll find it. Greenwich Market is bursting with art and crafts, both global and local. The shops around the outside of the market are also worth a look, and make sure to walk through the food market when you're done, if only to try the churros filled with dulce de leche (milk caramel). You're now only 5 minutes from Greenwich rail station, on Greenwich High Road, from which there's a train back to the center of London every half-hour until about 11:30pm.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
What part of London is best for shopping? ›
Oxford Street is considered the centre of London's shopping world. Holding well over 300 shops, 4 underground stations, as well as flagship stores for numerous companies, Oxford Street is not only the busiest shopping location in London it's the largest shopping district in existence.What street in London is famous for fashion? ›
Wander along Oxford Street – one of the most famous London shopping streets – which is home to more than 300 shops, designer outlets, high-street chains and landmark stores.Which part of London is famous for its shopping and nightlife? ›
Soho is the centre of all nightlife in London both spiritually and geographically. Placed slap-bang in the centre of the city, this world-renowned party place is known for some of the craziest dance nights in town.Which is the most famous road for shops in London? ›
This is perhaps one of the most iconic street names in the country, especially amongst shoppers and fashion enthusiasts. Oxford Street is the centre of London's retail scene and is home to a huge list of high-end brands and luxury boutiques.
SoHo is one of the City's most eclectic shopping enclaves, holding everything from designer boutiques and one-of-a-kind shops to bargain emporiums and kids stores.Is SoHo the Fashion District? ›
In the early twentieth century, SoHo was a locale for factories and mechanic shops. Today, it's the epicenter of global design, a fashion hound's playground. From Bloomingdales to designer houses like Prada, there is much ground to cover in this neighborhood between Houston and Canal Streets.Is Notting Hill good for shopping? ›
Notting Hill has been a fashion force to be reckoned with since its Bohemian era in the 1980s, when Portobello Road became the place to find one-off pieces in both the small boutiques and famous market.Where do fashion people hang out London? ›
Members clubs like Soho House and its east London Shoreditch House, the Hospital Club, and House of St Barnabas are a popular spots for more established designers, and also go-tos for cultural PRs in the city.Is Oxford Street Good for shopping? ›
The area with the biggest department stores and shops is located between the 3 underground stations Marble Arch, Bond Street and Oxford Circus. On a length of about 1.2 km you will find plenty of shopping opportunities in various price ranges.Which bit of London is posh? ›
One of the most commonly cited divides between areas of London is East London vs West London – and it's easy to see why. West London is typically seen as the more posh side of the city, while East London is known for being a bit more gritty.
Where is the coolest place in London? ›
- Walthamstow. Architectural Landmark. ...
- Kensal Rise. Architectural Landmark. ...
- Hackney Wick. Architectural Landmark. ...
- Borough Market. Market, Deli, British, Healthy. ...
- Tooting. Architectural Landmark. ...
- Notting Hill. Architectural Landmark. ...
- Brixton. Architectural Landmark. ...
- Soho. Architectural Landmark. View.
Brixton is another of the coolest places in London. It's so hot it's even been rated the most hipster area of London. This multicultural neighborhood is known for colorful south London markets like Pop Brixton, Brixton Village, and Brixton Market.What is the happiest place in London? ›
Barking and Dagenham is among the happiest places in the UK, while Hackney ranks among the lowest nationally for life satisfaction, according to new data. The happiest – and unhappiest – places to live in east London have been revealed by the Office for National Statistics based on a personal wellbeing survey.What is the longest shopping street in London? ›
First for fashion, entertainment, technology and innovation, Oxford Street is the world's biggest high street. It offers 1.5 miles of unrivalled shopping, with more than 90 flagship stores, from fashion and beauty, to tech and homeware.What is Brick Lane famous for in London? ›
Brick Lane is one of East London's best-known spots… for good reason. Winding its way between Whitechapel and Shoreditch, it's full of cool shops, buzzing markets and, of course, those famous curry houses.Is the most expensive shopping street in London UK? ›
New Bond Street loses crown as the most expensive shopping street in Europe. Property consultancy Cushman & Wakefield has reported that the cost of rent in New Bond Street, London has been superseded by Via Monte Napoleone, Milan.What is the poshest street in London? ›
Without doubt, one of the most famous streets in London is Downing Street. 10 Downing Street is, of course, the official residence of the Prime Minister.
1. Trafalgar Square. Probably the most famous of all of London's squares. Trafalgar Square may not be green but it is a focal point for London to gather and mark important events.Why is SoHo so popular? ›
SoHo is short for “south of Houston Street.” Today, the neighborhood is famous for its upscale boutiques, artists, and cast-iron architecture. But in the mid-1900s, SoHo was known for its factories and industries, earning it the nickname “Hell's Hundred Acres.”
What is the main shopping street in SoHo? ›
SoHo's shopping grid runs from Broadway west to Sixth Avenue, and Houston Street south to Canal Street. Broadway is the most commercial strip, with big names like Zara, Brandy Melville, Nike, and Converse.What is Soho Square famous for? ›
Soho Square is home to several media organisations, including the British Board of Film Classification, 20th Century Fox, Bare Escentuals, Deluxe Entertainment Services Group, Dolby Europe Ltd, Fin London, Paul McCartney's MPL Communications, Tiger Aspect Productions, Wasserman Media Group and See Tickets.What City has the best Fashion District? ›
New York City, New York
Not only is New York City one of the most fashionable cities in the country, it is also a top contender in the world.
Many of the classier and more glamourous bars in the area will expect you to turn up in a dress and heels – or at the very least, jeans and a nice top with heels – while some of the more laid-back and quirky bars don't care what you wear at all, as long as you are comfortable and having a good time.What is SoHo short for in London? ›
If you shorten “South of Houston (Street)” to the first two letters of “South” followed by the first two letters of “Houston”, you get the acronym “SoHo”. This was common at the time – just look at Tribeca (originally TriBeCa), which is formed when you shorten “Triangle Below Canal Street” in the same way.Is Portobello market worth visiting? ›
Portobello Road Market is the famous antique market in London that you need to visit. Filled with everything from vintage trinkets and pre-loved games, to fresh fruit and flowers, it's no wonder that this market is adored by locals and tourists alike.Is Kensington High Street Good for shopping? ›
Kensington High Street is among London's most famous shopping districts with a rich mix of stores and residents.What is Portobello Market famous for? ›
The west London site is most famous for having one of the world's largest antique, bric-a-brac and vintage clothing markets. It's a location that attracts tourists, locals and celebrities from all walks of life.Does London have a fashion district? ›
The Fashion District is a cluster of ambitious businesses, academic institutions and investors in East London. It's an opportunity: to make London the global capital of fashion technology.Is Oxford or Cambridge better for shopping? ›
From punting to shopping and reading to eating, both Oxford and Cambridge boast a great choice of things to do. As Oxford is bigger than Cambridge, you'll find a wider choice of shops, restaurants and cafes in the city centre.
Which arrondissement has the best shopping? ›
The 1st arrondissement is a heavenly spot for shoppers! Elegant and trendy shops line the refined Rue de Rivoli, popular Place des Victoires and surround the beautiful gardens at the Palais Royal. Located within easy walking distance of the Louvre Museum, these are spots dedicated shoppers won't want to miss!Is Bond Street Good for shopping? ›
Venerated for its elegant stores, designer fashion brands, art galleries, fine jewellery shops and antique stores, Bond Street is the destination for luxury shopping.Where do millionaires go in London? ›
What Are the Traditionally Posh Areas in London? Knightsbridge, the City of Westminster, and Chelsea are traditionally posh areas of London.Where do most millionaires live in London? ›
- Mayfair. Mayfair is a district in the West End of London, England. ...
- Kensington. Kensington is a district in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in west central London. ...
- Knightsbridge. ...
- Belgravia. ...
- Chelsea. ...
- Marylebone. ...
- Conclusion. ...
Chelsea is one of London's better-known, wealthy neighborhoods, and it is easy to see why. Much like the capital's other luxurious neighborhoods, Chelsea is home to extravagant properties, many of which cost upwards of 2 million pounds.What is the most popular shopping Centre in UK? ›
Today there are high streets in pretty much every London neighborhood. From big ones like Oxford Street, Regent Street, Piccadilly, Bond Street, Carnaby Street to local ones in places outside Zone 1, you can find them all across the UK capital.What shops are on Bond Street? ›
Home to some of the world's most prestigious retailers, including Asprey, Bulgari, Burberry, Chanel, Cartier, Dolce Gabbana, Hermès, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton, Mulberry, Ralph Lauren and Tiffany Co. Bond Street offers an unrivalled mix of history, traditional elegance and modern luxury.Which part of London is better north or south? ›
The north is a little bit less green. North London parks and other green areas cover 29% of the northern boroughs. If you love getting outdoors, sunbathing, running, jogging or just relaxing, choose south London for a more tranquil lifestyle. The same goes if you have children or are planning to.Is east or west London cheaper? ›
As a rule it's cheaper to live in East London than west, great news when you're on a budget. There's more great news, this time if you love to get out and about after dark. East London has a better nightclub scene, with a wider choice of places to paint the town red. It also makes for a cheaper night out.
What is the main Centre of London called? ›
Trafalgar Square is the geographic center of London from which all road distances are measured.What part of London is the most posh? ›
- Made up of expensive Georgian townhouses, elite hotels, and gourmet restaurants, the neighborhood of Mayfair has long been one of the most expensive neighborhoods in London. ...
- 2- Knightsbridge. ...
- 3- Chelsea. ...
- 4- Kensington. ...
- 5- Notting Hill. ...
- 6- Highbury. ...
- 7- Covent Garden. ...
- 8- City of London.
The boroughs with the highest proportions of individuals living in poverty (measured as those living in households where the income is below 60% of the median after housing costs), were seen in Tower Hamlets (39%), Bent, Newham, and Westminster (all 36%).Is East London rougher than south London? ›
A new survey of Londoners reveals a tale of four cities: The West is posh, the East is poor, the South is rough and the North is intellectual. 1,294 Londoners were shown a list of adjectives and asked which four they most associate with each area of London - East, West, North and South.Why East London is the best? ›
It means the vibe is very different to West and Central London – younger, cooler and a little bit shabbier (in a good way). Come to East London for the best markets in the capital, atmospheric old-school boozers, history, street food, street art and envelope-pushing restaurants (many of them now with Michelin stars).Is South London posh? ›
South West London is the home of 'posh' shopping. From Knightsbridge to Chelsea and the famous King's Road you'll find a range of excellent shops to satisfy your every need.What is the cheapest area in London? ›
- Lewisham. ...
- Sutton. ...
- Enfield. ...
- Harrow. ...
- Hillingdon. ...
- Bromley. ...
- Barking and Dagenham. ...
- Croydon. Photograph: A Croydon tram leaves East Croydon station, two great methods of transportation in this borough.
For many, The West End is London – buzzing, packed and always lively. The West End – which generally refers to Covent Garden, Piccadilly and Leicester Square – is undoubtedly the best area to stay in London for sightseeing and shopping.What is the Soho area of London? ›
Where is Soho? Soho is located in London's West End in the borough of the City of Westminster. It's a small geographical area in the heart of London, covering just over one square mile – so it's perfect to explore on foot.What part of London is usually called its heart? ›
Covering most of the central area of Greater London and West end and located to the west of and adjoining the ancient City of London, the City of Westminster is located directly to the east of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.