The 100 best shops in London: 40-31

Going shopping in London? Plan where to head with our round-up of the city’s finest retailers, from cheap vintage shops to world famous department stores

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40

Foyles

Best for
A vast range of books and great customer service

Don’t miss
The café tucked away on the first floor

How much?

 

Proving Amazon and Waterstones can’t secure a complete monopoly on literary sales, Foyles has been operating as an independent bookstore since 1903. It has survived changing shopping habits and several recessions, and stoically remains a much-loved family-run business with the largest range of books under one roof in the UK.

This warren-like, five-floor Charing Cross branch is currently in the process of moving a few doors up the street to the former Central St Martin’s building for 2014. The new site promises to turn Foyles into a state-of-the-art bookshop, but for now you can still enjoy it’s old-fashioned styling, cosy café and some 55 specialist subject areas.

  1. 113-119 Charing Cross Rd, WC2H 0EB
  2. www.foyles.co.uk
    Tottenham Court Rd tube
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39

Wolf & Badger

Best for
Fresh designer labels

Don’t miss
The Chisel & Mouse architectural models

How much?

 

Wolf & Badger’s Notting Hill shop (there’s also a newer second store on Dover Street in Mayfair) has garnered an almost cultish following since it opened in 2010. A hotbed of emerging design talent, the innovative boutique champions the work of up-and-coming (mostly) British fashion and homewares designers by offering them retail space and a sizeable return (over 80 percent) on anything they sell.

New designers are introduced every three months, giving the space a constantly evolving, one-step-ahead vibe that makes it a first port of call for show-stopping dresses, edgy tees and statement accessories. Recent hits include Finlay & Co’s 1950s-style wooden sunglasses, beautiful jewellery by CF Concept and crazy-high high heels by award-winning designer Richard Braqo. The weekly in-store events, trunk shows and launches are also a hit.

  1. 46 Ledbury Rd, W11 2AB
  2. www.wolfandbadger.com
    Notting Hill Gate tube
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38

Pitfield London

Best for
Chic homewares for all budgets

Don’t miss
The retro armchairs and sofas

How much?

 

The owners of this ambitious store and café took a gamble on one of the few Shoreditch Streets that didn’t seem to be getting any smarter despite the rapid pace of gentrification around it. As highly respected and prolific interior designers, Shaun Clarkson and business partner Paul Brewster were justifiably confident they could turn a big ugly office space into a luxurious interiors mecca, and so they have done.

Pitfield London is a gorgeous place – a maximalist combination of fabrics, colours and textures; of vintage and new; of shopping and dining. You’ll find something different every time you visit, be it an interiors artist in residence at the back of the store or a wonky crystal glassware set procured from a collector.

There’s plenty to buy if your budget is the size of your Hampstead house, from new scarlet Chesterfields at £1,400 to original ’60s leather armchairs for £1,450. But the brilliant thing about this store is the amount of affordable stuff on offer if you’re a homebody with less disposable cash to spend on domestic flourishes – there are plenty of treats for under a tenner. And if all else fails, there are meringues the size of a plate in the stylish adjoining café.

  1. 31-35 Pitfield St, N1 6HB
  2. www.pitfieldlondon.com
    Old St tube
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37

Coco de Mer

Best for
Stylish lingerie and sex toys

Don’t miss
The saucy in-store events

How much?

 

Sam Roddick (daughter of Anita) may have sold her gorgeously naughty kink boutique to sex toy e-giant Lovehoney.co.uk in 2011, but we’re happy to see Coco de Mer has changed little since the handover. Silky smalls from the likes of Stella McCartney swing next to altogether more adventurous bedroom attire, from leather harnesses to nipple tassles and spanking paddles.

But it’s sexy rather than seedy here, and has the feel of a velvety lingerie store with erotic extras rather than a dirty den of iniquity. Unless that’s what you’re looking for – in which case unembarrassed, unembarrassing assistants will discreetly advise you on which polished toy, implement or stimulus might help you get your rocks off when you get home.

If it’s expertise rather than equipment you’re looking for, book in for one of their hilarious sex education classes – hosted by former madames and showgirls, and designed to help even the most prudish customer to walk away with some tricks up their sleeve. Or tucked into their peep-hole brassiere.

  1. 23 Monmouth St, WC2H 9DD
  2. www.coco-de-mer.com
    Tottenham Court Rd tube
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36

Debenhams

Best for
Cheap and cheerful fashion

Don’t miss
The designer collaborations

How much?

 

Until its £25million refurbishment, the Debenhams flagship was one of Oxford Street’s drabbest and most down-market department stores. But things have changed dramatically for the 200-year-old brand. The seven-floor store has been completely redesigned with a new interior, an impressive shimmering kinetic metal façade (which resembles a wave) and a chichi new shoes department. There’s also a chic bistro in the basement.

The store now features 21 designer collaborations including Henry Holland, Matthew Williamson and Jenny Packham, but our favourites are the Todd Lynn and Jonathan Saunders Edition ranges. Up on the fifth floor you’ll find kids’ clothing and toys plus an airy new family friendly restaurant. Finally, it’s a light-filled, easy-to-navigate store you’ll want to linger in.

  1. 334-348 Oxford St, W1C 1JG
  2. www.debenhams.com
    Oxford Circus tube
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35

Harvey Nichols

Best for
Designer fashion and luxe food

Don’t miss
The excellent personal styling

How much?

 

This luxury Knightsbridge department store isn’t the bastion of cool it once was – Liberty, Selfridges and even Harrods seem to be more engaged with their customers and are hosting more dynamic shopping events these days – but it’s still a worthy port of call for any fashion-conscious shopper. The rails are filled with top labels like Alexander Wang, Balenciaga and Givenchy.

Head here for a well-stocked luxury beauty hall, an excellent array of accessories and the top beauty buys from luxurious brands like Tom Ford and COR (whose soap contains real silver). Finish off proceedings by taking lunch on the fifth floor (where the buzzy food department is located).

  1. 9-125 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7RJ
  2. www.harveynichols.com
    Knightsbridge tube
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34

Labour and Wait

Best for
Low-fi home accessories

Don’t miss
The galvanised steel buckets

How much?

 

Labour and Wait is East London’s favourite homewares shop. Delightfully sensible and smack in the middle of ultra trendy Redchurch Street, it’s a welcome oasis of practicality and home life. Pick up some work clothes, aprons or perhaps a signed copy of ‘Shoreditch Tales’ to sit alongside your marble kettle.

Friendly, attentive and informed staff, plus a tranquility you don’t get in typical home depots, make this the civilised domestic shopping experience you’d expect from a quaint village shop. Select a glass bottle to put a single flower in or some tools for that DIY project. Either way, you’ll be satisfied – and likely leave with more than you came in for, having been swayed by some wooly socks or a cast-iron casserole dish.

  1. 85 Redchurch St, E2 7DJ
  2. www.labourandwait.co.uk
    Old St tube
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33

Condor Cycles

Best for
Quality bikes

Don’t miss
The Bike Builder service

How much?

 

A Gray’s Inn Road stalwart since 1948, this is the store of choice for roadies, racers and serious commuters in search of top-notch kit and a natter with staff who know their way around every millimetre of a Mavic Cosmic Carbone 40c wheelset. Condor’s beautiful bikes have tackled the Tour de France, won world championship golds and cradled the cheeks of Bradley ‘Wiggo’ Wiggins, but even if you can’t afford one of their custom models (build your own bike on the website and dream – even at the bottom end you won’t get change from two grand), the off-the-rack machines are still better than any you’ll find in a chain store.

  1. 49-53 Gray’s Inn Rd, WC1X 8PP
  2. www.condorcycles.com
    Chancery Lane tube
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32

Couverture & The Garbstore

Best for
Original gifts and home accessories

Don’t miss
Odette jewellery for women

How much?

 

Cult shop Couverture & The Garbstore sticks it to The Man with an under-the-radar collection of independent labels and up-and-coming designer fashion (sell out and you’re out, basically). On the lower level of this slick three-storey boutique (unrecognisable as the bath salesroom it once was) is designer Ian Paley’s menswear label The Garbstore, whose own-label crew knits (£200), contrast-pocket tees (£75) and limited-production Japanese selvedge denim garner nods of approval from even the most insider-y of fashion insiders.

The ground and upper levels house Emily Dyson’s much-admired lifestyle concept Couverture, where you’ll find an enticing array of homewares and beautiful women’s and children’s fashion. Think hand-printed cushions by Finnish designer Klaus Haapaniemi, simple but chic stationery by Hay, understated tailoring from Tocca and kid-heaven alpaca dress-up knits by Oeuf NYC.

  1. 188 Kensington Park Rd, W11 2ES
  2. www.couvertureandthegarbstore.com
    Ladbroke Grove tube
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31

Start London

Best for
Hot designer pieces for men and women

Don’t miss
The Mr Start range of tailored classics

How much?

 

On top of its stellar online boutique, Start London has three Shoreditch outlets that are certainly worth browsing in the flesh, if only to grasp the selection of covetable designers that are stocked by owners Philip and Brix Start. Rivington Street plays host to the his-n-hers shops, and at No. 42 ladies can ogle glitzy clutches from Philippe Audibert, try on Sophia Webster heels, strut in Kenzo printed trousers and nab Isabel Marant’s Étoile line – plus there are Helmut Lang jumpers, Acne boots and a vast selection of Cutlet and Gross shades.

Across the road at No. 59, the slightly smaller brother shop with an air of mature sophistication has a sneaker collection including Comme des Garcons Play, stacks of Nudie jeans, slick Cote&Ciel bags and sturdy Strutterheim jackets. The third store houses the dashing Mr. Start Label at No. 40, complete with skinny ties and off-the-rack suits. All three shops are a must-check-out for well-to-do Shoreditch types.

  1. 40, 42 and 59 Rivington St, EC2A
  2. www.start-london.com
    Old St tube
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Continue to numbers 30-21 in our list

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