Greenwich Market attracts an unlikely mix of tourists, organic-loving locals and hip south-east Londoners. If you’re nervous about leaving Zone 1 and think that the DLR may as well be a tractor (though it only takes 23 minutes from Bank), you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Look out for the sushi stall that’s neighbours with an old-fashioned typewriter kiosk, which in turn sits next to a stall featuring hot up-and-coming design talent. There are simple fruit-and-veg stalls on Wednesday, antiques on a Thursday and a selection box of crafty one-offs at the weekend. As any market trader will tell you, Greenwich has a unique vibe, vivaciously multicultural, historical and buzzing with creativity.
Greenwich’s top stalls
A stage of elaborate feathers, petite leather bows and oversized corsages: London College of Fashion graduate Sharon (a milliner for more than 20 years) scoured London to find this perfect spot. Using purely British textiles, her winter collection includes vintage-style masks, box clutch bags and cute ’20s headpieces. Prices start from £8.
Use the middle entrance to the market and turn left.
Within a month of launching her stall, the Laura in question was spotted by a fashion magazine and ‘it all got a bit mental’. She trained in graphic design, and her pieces are endearing, original and gorgeously throw-on. Taking vintage cashmere and soft angora knits, she reworks them with simple printed statements such as ‘Si Vous Plais’ or ‘I Should Coco’.
Tim Burton-esque creatures peek out at you with misshapen eyes from this unusual toy stall. It sells puffy creatures and kitsch soft toys based on Chinese cartoons and made from twisted socks and odd haberdashery pieces. It’s three rows back from The Coach and Horses pub.
For the ultimate out-of-city experience, Rhodes Bakery will prepare a luxurious picnic basket bulging with goodies. Starts at £27 for two (but could easily feed four) and includes reusable napkins, tablecloth and cutlery.
Rhodes Bakery, 37 King William Walk, SE10 9HU (8858 8995/www.rhodesbakery.co.uk). 7am-7pm daily.
Things to avoid
Paying £7 for a card-like sandwich – there’s enough independent quirk to avoid doing it Leicester Square-style.
Temptingly quaint old tearooms mix with ye olde English pubs, but for somewhere distinctly Greenwich try Biscuit. An organic café that allows you craft your own ceramic masterpiece.
Biscuit, 3-4 Nelson Rd, SE10 9JB (8853 8588/www.biscuit-biscuit.com). 10am-5.30pm Mon-Thur; 10am-6.30pm Fri, Sat; 10am-6pm Sun.
Greenwich Market (www.shopgreenwich.co.uk). Greenwich Rail/DLR or Cutty Sark DLR. Open daily 10am-5.30pm.
Read more about Greenwich Market
Weekends see Greenwich Market packed with international tourists enjoying arts, craft and food stalls. Some of the offerings (logo T-shirts, 'art' canvases, leather bags) can seem a little unimaginative if you're used to the plentiful and varied markets of central London, but the covered arcade still holds a certain charm.
The Painted Lady
Located on a street that boasts APC and a Conran Hotel as neighbours, the Painted Lady could be forgiven for going a bit upmarket. However, this gently lit, cute little salon is much more interested than what was going on in 1950s hairdressing than the contemporary Shoreditch scene. As well as contemporary cuts and colour, the stylists at TPL specialise in screen-siren up-dos (£40) like Marilyn waves or Hepburn rolls. They even dispense lessons for groups in retro styling, so you can recreate the magic of the salon in your own bedroom.
Venue says: “Book in for a complimentary mini Olaplex treatment (worth £20) with your cut and finish. Mention 'Love my hair' when you book.”