Christmas is fast approaching so it's time to start planning your festive shopping. We round up the best Christmas shops in London where you will find original gift ideas, beautiful baubles and the most spectacular decorations. And don't forget to pay a visit to London's Christmas markets and fairs and our Christmas gift guide while you're at it.
RECOMMENDED: Find more festive fun with our guide to Christmas in London
Forget rainbow rubbers and giant pencils, Tate Modern’s gift shop is full of lovely things you’d actually use, from Tracey Emin Christmas cards to Grayson Perry cushion covers. You don’t even need to pretend you’re a modern art fan to shop here – thanks to its handy position at the museum’s entrance.
For casual streetwear and quirky homeware that doesn’t take itself too seriously, take a trip to this game-changing concept shop, full of handpicked items for Goodhood’s very hip customers, from hand-carved skateboards and affordable accessories to branded tees. It’s all good in the ’hood.
You know you’ve made it when your Christmas tree is covered in silk-panel baubles from Harrods. Gloriously grandiose, with its famous grotto, this London institution really comes into its own at Christmas. You could easily lose hours here floor-hopping from Toy Kingdom to the heavyweight fashion brands to the elegant beauty halls. This is London shopping at its most decadent.
With nine floors’ worth of designer goods, a well-stocked beauty hall and a wealth of price points, you could tick off your entire Christmas shopping list here. Sick of shopping? Try a panto in the basement theatre. Plus, the Christmas window displays always make a pretty addition to your Instagram account.
In these times of VR headsets and child-centric iPad games, it’s heartening to see there’s still an appetite for playthings of the more traditional variety – as found at this timewarp of a toyshop. Founded in 1856, Benjamin Pollock’s houses an intriguing jumble of toy theatres, books and puppets – kids and grown-ups love it so.
Testament to the enduring popularity of these adorable soft toys, the Sylvanian shop in Highbury has been around since the early ’90s and continues to attract both serious collectors and fickler younger fans. It’s the only store of its kind in Europe – a genuine retro delight.
Selling ghoulish-sounding sweets such as ‘Fang Floss’ and ‘Cubed Earwax’, plus stationery, t-shirts and letterpress cards, this inspired east London store feels like something JK Rowling might have dreamed up. In fact, its takings help fund the Ministry of Stories, a charity co-founded by Nick Hornby that provides writing workshops and coaching for youngsters.
Venue says: “We are a modern children's shop in Blackheath. Our focus is on toys, books and games for children that inspire and encourage them to play.”
A trip to this Blackheath toyshop will lighten the mood of even the grumpiest of little ’uns, while parents can treat it as a reconnaissance mission for scouting potential gifts. Win-win. The store touts itself as a ‘modern children’s shop’ and as such stocks Japanese collectibles, comics and designer Maileg dolls’ houses.
Food & Drink
Willy Wonka has nothing on Paul A Young, the pastry chef-turned-chocolatier behind this boutiquey store, and others in the city. This is where you’ll find the good stuff: quirky truffles in fantastical varieties (Marmite, for one), gooey brownies and bingeworthy boxes that can be made up with an assortment of your faves.
Sniff out this Greenwich outfit to find one of London’s classiest cheese shops. It celebrates some unusual British varieties along with Continental classics, with biodynamic wines, crackers and chutney thrown in for good measure. Staff are happy (in general, probably) to let customers try before they buy.
A supermarket for those who don’t much care for supermarkets, Greensmiths is tucked away round the back of Waterloo station on the cobbles of Lower Marsh. Each of its four floors teems with gastronomic treasures, from the excellent butchery on the ground floor to a basement jam-packed with craft ales and wines.
This multi-coloured mecca for the fashion-obsessed houses some of London’s brightest stars, from Grace Wales Bonner’s elegant tailored menswear to Molly Goddard’s dreamy dresses. Besides, where else can you find polka-dot Converse alongside a beautiful menagerie of stuffed birds?
You’ll need to set aside an entire afternoon to browse the beautifully arranged racks of fashion-forward pieces that occupy this airy 10,000- square-foot space, formally an art-deco garage. There’s even an in-store spa for you to take a breather before the allure of a ruffled blouse by Alexander McQueen pulls you back to the shopfloor.
Anyone with an eye for vintage should head to this fabulous old furniture factory. It’s filled with rails of coloured denim, silk kimonos, seersucker blazers and shiny, lace-up brogues, plus a floor for accessories and a great book collection. You won’t find that musty charity shop smell here: all the stock is cleaned, steamed and folded before it hits the racks.
Not all girls are Barbie-pink glitter fiends, and those who aren’t will appreciate the relaxed, boyish clothing, eclectic jewellery and pastel ceramics sold at Pam Pam. With a front room dedicated entirely to women’s trainers, it’s the ideal shopping destination for anyone who isn’t a girly-girl.
For wearable labels with a creative twist that will almost certainly provoke a ‘I love your top, where did you get it?’ from fashion-savvy mates, it has to be Other. The uncluttered, industrial-style space provides a cool backdrop for unfussy designs from the likes of Lemaire and Peter Jensen.
At this fun, stylish, tech-free bookshop, you can leaf through literature, which has been arranged into themes such as ‘Wanderlust’, ‘Enchantment’ and ‘The City’, which should make discovering new authors easier as well as speed up any last-minute gift-buying you happen to be doing.
With informed and enthusiastic staff, invitingly arranged bookshelves and two floors packed with politics, poetry and philosophy, plus sections for audiobooks, classic and new fiction, this petite store is well worth a visit. Refuel and flick through your purchases in the excellent onsite café.
This cute corner shop provides shelf space for small press publications, artsy limited editions and carefully selected small runs of collectible books. Beautifully designed cult magazines and coffee table tomes make this tiny haven a lovely place to grab something special for a bookworm with eclectic taste.
Oak balconies, stained-glass windows and viridian-green walls combine into what could well be London’s most beautiful bookshop. Its Edwardian walls are packed to the rafters with paperbacks and the travel section’s especially great: ordered by country and bound to induce wanderlust in the homeliest of homebodies.
After moving into the old Central Saint Martins building in 2014, the dramatically made-over Foyles can make a decent claim to the title of London’s best bookshop. Its 37,000 square feet of floor space are packed with more than 200,000 books, as well as a floor dedicated to events and a swish café. With that amount of real estate, you’ll find all the latest cookbooks and high-profile releases as well as plenty of niche titles, plus very well-read staff.
Heal’s puts its 42,000 square feet to good use with an aspirational edit of fancy furniture, Nordic dinnerware and Tom Dixon fragrances and candles. If you’re short on gift-getting inspiration, its gift-laden ground floor is sure to provide a eureka! moment or two, and its customer service has been a virtue throughout its long history.
Sir Terence Conran’s eye for dazzling design is as sharp as ever judging by the offerings at his Fulham Road flagship. Bringing together trendy investment pieces, ornaments and cookware, it’s the ideal place to pick up gifts and goods for the home. The art deco building itself was formerly owned by Michelin, and there’s a Michelin-starred restaurant, Bibendum, and oyster bar housed within.
Cross the threshold of this Shoreditch emporium and you’ll be greeted with an audacious array of prints – from ’70s-style Palmeral to dusky Dalston Rose – which adorn fabric, mugs, wallpaper and garments. Minimalism is not the vibe here, nor downstairs where you will find statement furniture and ahead-of-the-curve accessories.