Where to shop in London

Grace Cook, fashion assistant at the Financial Times

Main image courtesy of Fortnum & Mason

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The royals have always been known for their timeless, elegant British style, partly thanks to London and its shopping credentials. But there's far more to buy in London than just the latest fashions. From designer trainers to iconic literature, discover the best places to spend your cash in the capital.

The classics

Fortnum and Mason

Best for… Anglophile foodies

The lowdown: A food mecca since 1707, Fortnum and Mason’s flagship Piccadilly store is a must-visit for lovers of coffee and condiments: it has won several royal warrants for its produce, many of which were sent out in hampers to British soldiers during both World Wars. Fill your shopping basket with sweet treats on the ground floor, then head up to the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon for a spot of afternoon tea – the perfect pick-me-up between shopping. Visit mid-week when it’s easier to get a table.

If you only buy one thing: Grab a jar of Fortnum’s honey – it’s made by four colonies of bees that reside in six-feet-high hives on top of the store – plus a sterling silver honey drizzler for something to treasure forever.

Where? 181 Piccadilly, W1A 1ER. Take the Victoria, Jubilee or Piccadilly lines to Green Park tube station.

  • Pick up some fine British fare in Fortnum’s (as the locals say) food court

    Back in time

    Opposite Fortnum and Mason, you’ll find the majestic Burlington Arcade complete with the world’s oldest and smallest police force, the Burlington Beadles.

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  • Stock up on fabulous fabrics at Liberty London

    Shop like Jagger

    Head out the rear exit of Liberty to explore the sights and shops of the world-famous Carnaby Street, or stop for drinks and nibbles in nearby Kingly Court.

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  • Iconic Harrods makes an ideal photo opportunity for first-time visitors © Alex Segre / Alamy Stock Photo

    Flying visit

    Don’t worry if you’ve forgotten something – Harrods was one of the first department stores in the world to open departure lounge shops. You’ll find the flagship airport store at London Heathrow Terminal 5.

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Best for… luxury lovers

The lowdown: Harrods is a 4.5-acre empire of designer goods, and the ultimate shopping destination for fashion and accessories in London. But it’s worth visiting even if you aren’t planning on investing in a Chanel bag: it has over 300 departments including a food hall, a pet shop and a toy kingdom. The interior is also spectacular – think Art Deco-style lifts and Egyptian-themed escalators flanked by ornately carved pillars and a gold sphinx statue.

If you only buy one thing: Keep it British and make it Wedgewood’s striped Vibrance espresso cup and saucer – both masculine and chic, it’s small enough to fit in a carry-on bag to take home.

Where? 87-135 Brompton Road, SW1X 7XL. Take the Piccadilly line to Knightsbridge tube station.

Liberty London

Best for… curious curios

The lowdown: Walking through the doors of Liberty’s imposing Tudor facade is like simultaneously stepping into a historic London shopping landmark and an eastern bazaar: its nooks and crannies are filled with the most delightful trinkets and treasures. A brilliant place to pick up lotions and potions from niche beauty brands, the department store also has an amazing array of classic Liberty floral printed items, including scarves, bags and notebooks. Head there for breakfast in Café Liberty on a weekend morning at 10:00, leaving you with unlimited browsing time afterwards.

If you only buy one thing: Pick up a Liberty alphabet collection tote with your initial on it – it’s a touch of luxury personalisation (without having to pay extra for a monogram), and there’s a variety of Liberty prints and colours.

Where? Regent Street, W1B 5AH. Take the Jubilee and Central lines to Oxford Circus tube station.

  • Pamper yourself with Aesop’s indulgent body care products

    Pop to the shops

    A short distance from Redchurch Street, you’ll find Boxpark, the world’s first pop-up shopping complex with street food and shops housed in repurposed shipping containers.

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  • Explore Bloomsbury, London’s historic literary district © Matt Richardson

    History in the making

    The nearby British Museum, houses over eight million artefacts and their ever-expanding collection spans over two million years of history.

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  • Treat yourself to a little taste of heaven at Mast Brothers chocolate shop

    Stay in style

    A short stroll from Shoreditch, you’ll find equally cool and creative Clerkenwell, with chic café and bars and sleek design hotels.

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The hidden gems

Redchurch Street

Best for… hip homeware hounds

The lowdown: This East London street is a hotbed of quirky, independent stores and boutique fashion and beauty brands such as Sunspel, Aesop and Brooklyn-import chocolatiers Mast Brothers. Be sure to make a stop at Labor and Wait: the emerald green store has a cult following among cool homeware-loving Londoners in the know. Its selection of curated homewares are both utilitarian and attractive – where else could you pick up a glass jar of lavender water that looks straight out of an apothecary and a sachet of padron pepper seeds?

If you only buy one thing: This Japanese coffee pot in a very 1970s mustard hue – ideal for brightening up your kitchen table in the mornings.

Where? Take the Overground to Shoreditch High Street.

Lamb’s Conduit Street

Best for… Bookworms

The lowdown: This pedestrianized Bloomsbury street is packed with independent furniture stores and places to eat (try The People’s  Kitchen for fresh food that’s both delicious and environmentally friendly). But first make a beeline for Persephone books: it’s a literary paradise, filled with limited editions of novels by 20th-century female writers, with pretty grey and printed covers.

If you only buy one thing: Virginia Woolf’s Flush, an account of fellow author Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s spaniel, and Woolf’s most light-hearted piece of work.

Where? Take the Piccadilly line to Russell Square tube station.

  • Get your shopping kicks at Sneaker Space inside Dover Street Market

    Food for thought

    After all that shopping you’ll be in need of refuelling and refreshment, walk into China Town or nearby Soho for some of the capital’s best dining experiences.

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Dover Street Market

Best for… Stylish sneaker addicts

The lowdown: One of the world’s first concept stores, Dover Street Market recently relocated to Haymarket in London’s West End. The set-up is essentially lots of shops within a shop – the designers that the store stocks change seasonally, and each brand has its own visual space, making it very easy on the eye. Don’t miss the ‘sneaker’ lounge, where you can buy limited-edition collaborations from the likes of Adidas, Nike and Common Projects. Be sure to visit at the weekend, when the store has a bit more of a buzz.

If you only buy one thing: A pair of Comme des Garçons Play Converse trainers, featuring artist Filip Pagowski’s iconic red heart logo – guaranteed to put a spring in your step.

Where? 18-22 Haymarket, SW1Y 4DG. Take the Northern or Piccadilly lines to Piccadilly Circus tube station.