London is undoubtedly one of the world’s great shopping cities. From the hustle and bustle of Oxford Circus, to the exquisite boutiques and restaurants of Kensington and Knightsbridge’s ritzy department stores, there’s a reason why British shopping is a global export, with quintessential London style never dipping out of fashion.
But away from the bright lights of the big names, there is a wealth of unique shopping to be found in the finest boutiques around the city. Some tucked away off the main strip, others hidden in plain sight, the city is packed with places perfect for picking up something a little different. For everything from niche fashion labels to the best cookware a chef could dream of, make sure you don’t miss these stores during your stay in the city. We've even prepared a handy map to make your London retail experience that much easier to navigate...
1. Skandium, 245-49 Brompton Road, SW3 2EP and 86 Marylebone High Street, W1U 4QS
Scandinavian design is a hot commodity, and everyone wants a taste of the clean lines and classic design the region has become known for. At Skandium you can pick up Marimekko cushions, Iittala tableware or some elegant Danish furniture for your home, and they’ll even arrange international delivery if your Scandi souvenir won’t quite fit into your luggage.
2. The Shop at Bluebird,350 Kings Road, London, SW3 5UU
For a real King’s Road shopping experience, the Shop at Bluebird is a must. But make sure to take your time browsing fashion and lifestyle brands like Paul Smith, Peter Pilotto and Christopher Kane - there’s a lot to see in the 10,000 square foot space, including a spa and café in case you need to put your feet up after a day’s shopping.
3. Divertimenti,227-229 Brompton Road, SW3 2EP and 33-34 Marylebone High Street, W1U 4PT
Divertimenti has become a London legend thanks to its stellar range of everything a cook could need for the kitchen. Whether it’s pots and pans, glassware, unusual utensils or just a decent spatula you’re looking for, Divertimenti’s Aladdin’s Cave-like stores in Marylebone and Kensington are certain to have it.
4. Couverture & the Garb Store,188 Kensington Park Road, W11 2ES
The market on Portobello Road is London’s most famous spot for antiques, vintage clothing and jewellery, and make sure to stop into Couveture & the Garb Store for a gorgeous curation of quirky brands for men, women and kids as well as homeware. Ideal for picking up some gifts that are a little different from the everyday.
5. Dover Street Market,17-18 Dover Street, W1S 4LT
Sandwiched between galleries in the heart of Mayfair is this six-floor space owned by Japanese fashion brand Comme des Garcons. While the store may feel more like a museum than a market, the range of labels, from fine British heritage names to Japan’s cutting-edge, make it one of London’s hottest shopping spots. Stop in the Rose Bakery on the top floor for a post-shop coffee.
6. Opening Ceremony,35 King Street, WC2E 8JG
The London flagship of this New York style institution opened in Covent Garden in 2012, and since then it’s become a mecca for fashion mavens eager to get their hands on some of the niche brands on show. Here you’ll find unusual and rare names like Rodarte, The Row and Simone Rocha.
7. Beyond Retro,110-112 Cheshire Street, E2 6EJ and 58-59 Great Marlborough Street W1F 7JY
The best destination for vintage fashion in the city, Beyond Retro’s original warehouse on Brick Lane in east London is legendary (and enormous), while the Soho outpost, a compact basement filled with cocktail dresses, leather jackets and much more, is the perfect place to rummage for some one-off bargains.
8. Margaret Howell,34 Wigmore Street, W1U 2RS
For timeless British style, Margaret Howell is an essential shop to stop by. Elegant, wearable clothes made almost entirely in the UK and Ireland, the kind that will last you a lifetime. Stylish investment shopping at its best.
9. OTHER/shop,21 Kingly Street, W1B 5QA
Tucked away just off Regent Street, OTHER/shop is a small independent boutique stocking hand-picked designer and specialty brands for men and women, the kind you won’t find in standard stores around town. Young emerging designers are a favourite here.
10. Daunt Books,83 Marylebone High Street, W1U 4QW
A favourite of many Londoners when it comes to book-buying, Daunt is an independent chain with stores in neighbourhoods across the city. But it’s the Marylebone flagship that is worth the visit - if not for the vast selection of books, then for the wonderful Edwardian architecture. The split-level conservatory housing the huge travel section is particularly special.
11. Matches, 87 Marylebone High Street W1U 4QU and 60-64 Ledbury Road, W11 2AJ
For luxury and designer shopping, every Londoner has her favourite haunt, and Matches is beloved by many for its friendly and personal service. Add an amazing edit of international brands for men and women of all styles, and you have one of the best boutiques around town, with stores in Marylebone and Notting Hill. Look for classic cuts from contemporary designers like Stella McCartney and Isabel Marant.
12. Start, 42-44 Rivington St, EC2A 3QP
Run by TV presenter and former The Fall guitarist Brix Start-Smith, this east London boutique is packed with avant-garde labels. Specialties include British designer Sophie Hulme’s leather handbags and Swedish denim by Acne. And look out for the store’s mascots, Brix’s pugs Gladys and Pixie, who will keep you company while you find the perfect fit.
13. The Goodhood Store, 42 Coronet Street, N1 6HD
The Goodhood Store in the heart of Hoxton offers a unique and off-the-wall blend of menswear and womenswear, alongside some covetable lifestyle goods, with emphasis on trendy, refined streetwear labels from around the world, including Levi’s, Dr Martens and Norse Projects.
14. House of Hackney, 131 Shoreditch High Street E1 6JE
Originally an interiors label, House of Hackney’s flagship in Shoreditch now sells fashion, accessories and homewares in a range of distinctive and opulent printed textiles. The place to go for some East End luxury with twist of traditional English heritage.
Written for The Doyle Collection by Ana Kinsella. Illustration by Naomi Elliot.