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Harrods at Christmas
Image: BBA Photography / Shutterstock

The best Christmas shops in London

From indie shops to huge department stores, you’re guaranteed to find all your Christmas presents here

Edited by
Chris Waywell
,
Kate Lloyd
&
Time Out editors
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Here’s the deal: for some people, Christmas is all about doing lovely things. They’ll pop to a carol concert, make wreaths, wander around an outdoor lights display. That’s great but it’s not all of us.

For many Londoners, Christmas is about shopping. Whether it’s a last-minute dash through the sale aisles, indiscriminately filling your basket with any old tat like a deranged Santa, or a slow browse through a premium department store, carefully choosing which Diptyque candle to buy a loved one, going to an actual, real-life shop can bring people so much joy.

And, while Christmas purists might say that it’s not the real meaning of the season, perhaps it is a kind of way to give back to London’s small (and big) businesses after a tough two years? Sort of.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of brilliant Christmas shops around the capital, where you can pick up gifts that people will remember for years to come for all the right reasons. Festive dons like Harrods and Selfridges are in there, of course (they’ve been hanging their tinsel since July) but we’ve got indie stores too, from arty museum giftshops to cute boutiques, geeky bookshops to top menswear stores. Now get your wrapping paper at the ready and get shopping. 

RECOMMENDED: Read our complete guide to Christmas in London.

  • Shopping
  • Home decor
  • Soho

Good for: A decadent gift experience
There’s not a shop in the world like Liberty at Christmas. Wandering through this doyenne of department stores is like browsing at Downton Abbey. Along with its extraordinary architecture and atmos, it houses a lovingly curated selection of beautiful floral fabrics, designer fashion and top beauty brands, plus a banging Christmas shop and wrapping service. None more festive.

Marby & Elm
  • Shopping
  • Art, craft and hobbies
  • Exmouth Market

Best for: Gift wrap
Having started out in a garden shed, family-run Marby & Elm has maintained its handmade appeal since opening up shop in Exmouth Market. If you derive more pleasure from Christmas wrapping than buying, you know, gifts, this is the shop for you – gift tags, wrap, tape and cards abound, all hand screen-printed in neon shades of pink, green, orange and blue.

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  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Bankside

Good for: Arty accessories and glossy books
Forget rainbow rubbers and giant pencils, Tate Modern’s gift shop is full of lovely things you actually want. Got an art fan to buy for? Knock yourself out with David Shrigley tote bags or Grayson Perry cushion covers. Plus loads of lovely art books, gifts for kids and cool cards. PLUS, it’s slap-bang at the entrance. 

  • Shopping
  • Toys and games
  • Covent Garden

Good for: Throwback toys 
Want a Victorian Christmas (without the rickets?). Start here. 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. 

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Present & Correct
  • Shopping
  • Art, craft and hobbies
  • Clerkenwell

Best for: Super-stylish stationery
Most of us know a stationery lover – someone who finds notebooks exciting and gets a kick out of a nice ruler or stapler. Get them something lovely this Christmas from Clerkenwell’s Present & Correct. An organised mash-up of books, pencil cases, paint brushes, prints and other desktop paraphernalia – much of it vintage deadstock sourced from across Europe – this is the shop for the person who knows their Rhodia from their Penco.

  • Shopping
  • Toys and games
  • Knightsbridge

Good for: Bling + old-school elegance
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.

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  • Shopping
  • Shoreditch

Good for: Designer streetwear
Christmas doesn’t have to mean novelty socks and jumpers. For casual clothes and quirky homeware that still doesn’t take itself too seriously, take a trip to this concept shop, full of handpicked items for Goodhood’s very hip customers, from hand-made soy candles and affordable accessories to branded tees. It’s all good in the ’hood.

  • Hotels
  • Marylebone

Good for: Nailing all the Christmas shopping in one place
With nine floors’ worth of designer goods, a well-stocked beauty hall and a wealth of price points, plus a dedicated Christmas shop, you could tick off your entire present-shopping list here. Sick of spending? Try a panto in the basement theatre.

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Ottie and the Bea
  • Shopping
  • Blackheath

Good for: Contemporary kids toys
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 Christmas gifts. Win-win. The store touts itself as a ‘modern children’s shop’ and as such stocks beeswax sandwich wraps, comics and designer Maileg dolls’ houses.

  • Shopping
  • Bookshops
  • Bloomsbury

Good for: Renowned literature and bijou tea
Everyone loves a book at Christmas, and with informed and enthusiastic staff, invitingly arranged shelves and two floors packed with politics, poetry and philosophy, plus sections for audiobooks, classic and new fiction, this petite store is well worth a seasonal visit. Refuel and flick through your purchases in the excellent onsite café, while feeling all clever.

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  • Shopping
  • Cheesemongers
  • Greenwich

Good for: Christmas curds and wahey!
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. Be warned, though, queues get LONG at Christmas.

  • Shopping
  • Specialist food and drink
  • Waterloo

Good for: Artisan bread and local food
A Christmas supermarket for those who don’t much care for supermarkets at Christmas, Greensmiths is tucked away round the back of Waterloo station on the cobbles of Lower Marsh. Each of its four floors teems with gastronomic treasure, from the excellent butchery on the ground floor to a basement jam-packed with craft ales and wines.

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House of Hackney
  • Shopping
  • Home decor
  • Shoreditch

Good for: Luxe interiors
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. If you want a statement Christmas prezzie, this is a good shout.

  • Shopping
  • Bookshops
  • Hoxton

Good for: Unusual editions
This cute corner shop gives shelf space to small-press publications, artsy limited editions and carefully selected small runs of collectable books. Beautifully designed cult magazines and coffee-table tomes make this tiny haven a lovely place to grab a special Chistmas gift for a bookworm with eclectic taste.  

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Dover Street Market
  • Shopping
  • Womenswear
  • Leicester Square

Good for: Directional labels
Fashion doesn't stop just cos it’s Christmas. This mecca for the fashion-obsessed houses some of London’s (and the world’s) brightest stars and biggest names, from Kiko Kostadinov's collaborations to Molly Goddard’s dreamy dresses. Besides, where else can you find polka-dot Converse alongside a menagerie of beautiful stuffed birds?

Atika
  • Shopping
  • Vintage shops
  • Spitalfields

Good for: Cool retro gear
Anyone with an eye for vintage (or need a unique gift for a trendy mate/partner/other) should head to this fabulous old furniture factory. It’s filled with rails of coloured denim, silk kimonos, seersucker blazers and shiny brogues, plus a floor for accessories and a great book collection. You won’t find any of that musty charity-shop smell here: all the stock is carefully cleaned, steamed and folded.

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Heal’s
  • Shopping
  • Home decor
  • Tottenham Court Road

Good for: Mid-mod aesthetics
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 Christmas present-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.

Oi Polloi
  • Shopping
  • Menswear
  • Soho

Good for: Quality menswear
Got a picky boy to buy for this Christmas? Founders Steve Sanderson and Nigel Lawson have been supplying the snappily dressed men of London and Manchester with stylish yet understated garb since 2002. Find their new store on Seven Dials, pick him up some obscure brands, then sit back and watch his mates follow suit.

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V&A gift shop
  • Shopping
  • Home decor
  • South Kensington

Good for: Unusual stocking fillers
The V&A’s lovely shop is home to all sorts of things – jewellery, textiles, superb cards and reasonably priced homeware. If you’re filling a stocking, look out for those little knick-knacks like compact mirrors, bejeweled pencils, funky stitch-on clothes patches and embroidery kits. Keep your eyes peeled for designer collaborations, too, which include Stella McCartney silk scarves and limited edition artist’s prints. It also does some excellent Xmas decs. German Albert would have approved.

Sylvanian Families Shop
  • Shopping
  • Toys and games
  • Highbury

Good for: A whole cult world
A testament to the enduring popularity of these adorable flocked plastic toys, the Sylvanian Families shop in Highbury has been around since the early ’90s and continues to attract both serious collectors and younger fans. It’s the only store of its kind in Europe – a genuine retro delight. Make this Christmas the time to introduce someone new to their delights. (We like the Popemobile thing complete with an onboard toilet, in case anyone needs a hint on what to get us this year.)

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Hoxton Street Monster Supplies
  • Shopping
  • Bookshops
  • Hoxton

Good for: Weird/amusing stocking-fillers
Selling ghoulish-sounding sweets such as ‘Fang Floss’ and ‘A Vague Sense of Unease’, plus stationery, T-shirts and letterpress cards, this inspired east London store feels like something a doomy 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. Great for a little leftfield Christmas extra gift.

Pam Pam
  • Shopping
  • Shoreditch

Good for: Cool Christmas kicks
Not all girls are Barbie-pink glitter fiends, and those who aren’t will appreciate the relaxed, boxy 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 trainer-savvy women. A properly thoughtful Christmas gift awaits.  

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Labour and Wait
  • Shopping
  • Home decor
  • Shoreditch

Best for: Utilitarian-yet-stylish gifts
If you’re shopping this Christmas for a design-loving chum, it’s worth sticking your head into Labour and Wait. Think toolboxes, pocket knives, can openers and the like, mixed up with plaid shirts, Welsh tapestry, enamelware and all manner of charmingly packaged condiments (never has a jar of mustard looked so desirable). You may leave clutching a Japanese ladle wondering how you can feasibly pass it off as a Christmas present. You will, though.

  • Shopping
  • Bookshops
  • Spitalfields

Good for: Beautiful books
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 Xmas gift-buying you happen to be doing.

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The Conran Shop
  • Shopping
  • Home decor
  • South Kensington

Good for: Chichi homeware
Sir Terence Conran’s eye for dazzling design is as sharp as ever judging by the offerings at his Fulham Road flagship. Bringing together investment pieces, ornaments and cookware, it’s the ideal place to pick up Christmas 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. Come loaded.

Petersham Nurseries Shop
  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
  • Richmond

Good for: Horticultural delights
Petersham Nurseries has a knack for making you want to buy everything in the shop; carefully curated displays of intricate glass baubles sit beside potted ferns, botanical-themed stationery and handmade ceramics. For something pocket-friendly, thoughtful and a little homespun this Christmas, consider gifting a plant. Pop in to the nursery greenhouse where all the ingredients (hyacinth bulbs, terracotta pots) are waiting.

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Daunt Books
  • Shopping
  • Bookshops
  • Marylebone

Good for: Books, d’uh
With its oak balconies, stained-glass windows and viridian-green walls, this could well be London’s most beautiful bookshop. Its Edwardian shelves are packed to the rafters with paperbacks and the travel section is especially great: ordered by country and bound to induce wanderlust in the homeliest of homebodies. Even if you just end up buying them the Private Eye annual, you’ll have had a great time here.

  • Shopping
  • Specialist food and drink
  • Angel

Good for: Cocoa alchemy
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. Sack off the Quality Street and get some decent chocs this Christmas.

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Foyles
  • Shopping
  • Bookshops
  • Charing Cross Road

Good for: Anything on paper
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 is 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. Our tip: there are some great little photobooks in the art department for less than a tenner.

  • Shopping
  • Home decor
  • Tottenham Court Road

Good for: Budget-friendly decor
Owned by the brains behind US chain Pottery Barn, this is the place to unearth some lovely interior design stuff at affordable prices. As well as top-notch homeware and artwork from local artists, West Elm hosts in-store workshops, from painting to photography. 

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  • Shopping
  • Womenswear
  • Regent Street

Good for: Chic homeware
Anthropologie is a sort of one-stop-shop for more or less every friend or relative. A typographic mug for your ‘Secret Santa’, a cat-emblazoned tea towel for your granny, a scented candle for your sister-in-law, a fancy hair accessory for your best mate. The list goes on. Get in there early for a pleasurable browse, and pop in again right before Christmas when the sale has started.

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