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 & Mason

Best for… Anglophile foodies

The lowdown: A food mecca since 1707, Fortnum & Mason’s flagship Piccadilly store is a must-visit for lovers of coffee and condiments: it has won several royal warrants for its products, 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 Piccadilly Honey – it’s made by bees dwelling in pagoda hives on top of the store – plus a olive wood and 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 & 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: the store 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 quintessentially British and choose a Wedgwood teacup and saucer set – an elegant memento that’s small enough to fit in a carry-on bag.

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 brunch in Arthur's Cafe on a Saturday morning at 10:00, leaving you with plenty of browsing time afterwards.

If you only buy one thing: Pick up a Liberty Alphabet Silk Scarf with your initial on it for a touch of luxury personalisation without having to pay extra for a monogram.

Where? 208-222 Regent Street, W1B 5AH. Take the Jubilee, Bakerloo or Central line 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.

    Taste London
  • Sunspel Shoreditch is the company’s original London store © Mariell Lind Hansen

    East End delights

    Shoreditch is a buzzing district in London packed with quirky bars, shops and cafes.

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  • Labour and Wait was established in 2000 in East London © Dave Rowswell

    Beloved boutiques

    London is full of independent cafes and shops – discover more hidden gems around the city.

    Curious London

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 brands. Pop into Sunspel for luxury fashion and Aesop for beauty products. Be sure to make a stop at Labour and Wait: the emerald-green store has a cult following among cool homeware-loving Londoners in the know. The 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 mini log cabin burner that emits balsam fir smoke through its chimney?

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.

  • 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. Fly to London from:€90 return

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Dover Street Market

Best for… Stylish sneaker addicts

The lowdown: Dover Street Market, both a shop and an exhibition space, was one of the world’s first concept stores. Originally opening on Dover Street in Mayfair (hence the name), the beautiful store now sits on Haymarket in the West End. The set up is essentially lots of shops within a shop – designers change seasonally – and each brand has its own visual space. 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 there’s a bit more of a buzz.

If you only buy one thing: A pair of Comme des Garcons 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 Bakerloo or Piccadilly line to Piccadilly Circus tube station.