You can buy almost anything in London. The city is a shopper’s paradise, peppered with every type of store you can imagine. From niche bookshops to iconic department stores, bustling markets to lush plant shops - London’s retail scene is up there with the world’s best.
It seems impossible to whittle them down to 100, but we’ve given it a damn good go here. This list favours independents or small, locally-based chains, with a few legendary London icons thrown in. From innovative grocers with green initiatives to trailblazing department stores, these are the best places to shop ‘til you drop – or at least until your bank account runs dry.
Best for: Eccentric English style and classic floral prints
There is no more gorgeous a shop in London – possibly the world – than Liberty. With its eccentric best-of-British jumble of haberdashery fabrics, brilliant homewares and vintage jewels, wandering through the wood-panelled rooms is a little like exploring a stately home – albeit one that’s home to a lovingly curated selection of cutting-edge international fashion and beauty brands.
Best for: Streetwear with a sense of humour
After seven years of quiet success, game-changing concept shop The Goodhood Store super-sized to a brand new Curtain Road premises back in 2014. Spread over two floors, the interior boasts little exhibition spaces, a basement café and a gnarly log cabin. The upscale, leftfield stock is hand-picked for Goodhood’s very East End customers, from hand-carved skateboards to cheap-as-chips mugs, badges and stickers. A very good ‘hood, indeed.
Best for: souvenirs that aren’t shit
Put down that crappy Union Jack biscuit tin – We Built This City is about to revolutionise your souvenir-buying. This Carnaby Street shop stocks affordable and charming work by over 250 London-based artists, from crowd-pleasing double-decker bus magnets to Sir David Attenborough pin badges; even Bowie baubles for your tree. Long live the arty souvenir; RIP the tourist tat.
Best for: A vast array of travel tomes
One of London’s most charming bookshops, Daunt’s Marylebone flagship is pretty as a picture. The Edwardian building is literally packed to the rafters with books. From the vaulted ceiling to the William Morris accent walls and stained-glass window, the store’s fixtures and fittings are pleasingly old-fashioned. Particularly worthy of a browse is the vast travel section: ordered by country, it’s enough to induce wanderlust in the most homely of homebodies.
Best for: One-off vintage gems
Unless you’ve been hiding in the back of your wardrobe, you’ve probably heard about the backlash on fast fashion. Charity shops are a brilliant alternative, and the Shelter folks have done a great job of appealing to a wider audience with their special Boutique branches. The latest is in Coal Drops Yard – the new(ish) trendy shopping and dining precinct in King’s Cross – and it holds its own against some stellar high-end brands. Inside there’s designer, vintage and one-off gems creamed from Shelter's shops all over the UK. Hello, guilt-free shopping.
Best for: Rare vinyl and in-store gigs
It’s one of the youngest stores in the Rough Trade stable, but Rough Trade East has fast become the company’s definitive London outpost. Located in the bustling Old Truman Brewery, it boasts an expertly curated collection of vinyl, CDs and books, as well as a café and a stage for the ever-popular in-store gigs. Wristbands are usually obtained by ordering a CD first – there can be queues for bigger acts and the sets are sometimes shorter than regular gigs, but we’re certainly not complaining.
Best for: filling your cupboards without filling the ocean with plastic
There’s way more than just lentils and chickpeas on offer at Bulk Market (though you can get those too, obvs). Hackney’s zero-waste store also boasts a beauty bar, where you can make your own cosmetics from a selection of oils, salts and natural waxes – BYO cosmetic container for extra green points. There’s also veg and baked goodies, as well as a freezer section where you can load up on loose, frozen fruit and veg without that pesky plastic.
Best for: All your succulent needs
Proving that cacti aren't just for the Wild West, the brilliantly named Prick is a cactus and succulent specialist in Dalston. Founded by Gynelle Leon, an award-winning photographer who fell in love with the spiky plants while on holiday in Morocco in 2011, this chic boutique stocks cacti sourced from around the UK and Holland available in various sizes. Stylish ceramic pots designed by independent artists are on offer too, meaning you can come away with a plant that's instantly windowsill-ready.
Best for: All things caffeine-related
A Soho institution, this shoebox-sized shop on Old Compton Street has been trading since 1887, long before coffee got cool. Buzz seekers can choose from over 80 blends of coffee, which are all available as beans or ground. Those into their coffee gadgets can marvel at electronic grinders, thermometers, tampers, milk frothers, while those living the decaf life will be impressed by the selection of caffeine-free blends. Despite the name, ACS also stocks a vast array of quality teas for all over the world.
Best for: Indulgent cheese hampers
It's surprising that you can't smell the whiff of aged cheddar as soon as you step outside of Piccadilly Circus station. Located on nearby Jermyn Street, Paxton & Whitfield have been selling cheese – hards, softs and blues – since 1797. Inside the shop (which has definitely had a revamp since the 18th Century, don't worry), an extensive counter showcases the likes of Double Gloucester, Cornish Blue, erm, Ticklemore, a hard goat’s cheese from the Dart Valley. The choice is almost endless, so don't be afraid to ask for a sample.
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