Hidden Gems

Neal’s Yard Remedies

1. Neal’s Yard Remedies

Neal’s Yard has been using natural and organic products, harnessing sustainable, ethically sourced ingredients, for almost four decades. But it’s not only about potions and lotions in its modern apothecary – the Covent Garden branch offers an array of therapies and treatments. From acupuncture and aromatherapy to yoga and zero balancing (a gentle, yet powerful method of balancing body energy with body structure), cocoon yourself away for an hour or two to soothe the soul. 

Neal’s Yard Remedies, 2 Neal's Yard, London WC2H 9DP 

Pollock’s Toy Museum - a charming exhibition of toys, mainly from the Victorian era

2. Pollock’s Toy Museum

Take a trip back to yesteryear via this charming exhibition of toys, mainly from the Victorian era (though look out for the Egyptian clay mouse, with moving wooden tail and mouth, dating back to 2000 BC). Part museum, part shop, the collection spans dolls and dolls houses, tin toys and folk toys, optical toys and toy soldiers, teddy bears and puppets spread across six small rooms of wonder. The shop sells both small playthings and more involved contraptions – but none the type you’ll find in department stores. A rare glimpse into children’s life before iPhones. 

Pollock’s Toy Museum, 1 Scala St, London W1T 2HL 

Persephone Books - A small, independent book store with a difference

3. Persephone Books

A small, independent book store with a difference, championing forgotten works by female authors and bringing their work to a new generation of curious readers. Persephone not only sells the books, but it publishes them too, meaning the staff have a hands-on knowledge of its small (132 titles) but perfectly formed portfolio. Neither too literary nor too commercial, the novels, short stories, diaries and memoirs found here are likely to appeal to anyone seeking an intelligent, quirky, thought-provoking read. 

Persephone Books, 59 Lamb’s Conduit St, London WC1N 3NB 

L’Cornelissen & Son

4. L’Cornelissen & Son

Treat the artist in your life to some supplies from the same shop at which Turner bought his materials. And if selecting the right pigment, gouache, paper or brushes seems tricky – especially when faced with the endless options at L. Cornelissen & Son – make life easy for yourself and treat them to one of the store’s beautiful leather accessories. From pencil cases and bound sketch pads to tool rolls and aprons, these are the little luxuries often overlooked by the artist themselves.   

L. Cornelissen & Son, 105 Great Russell St, London WC1B 3RY 

Bloomsbury independent boutique - Thomas Farthing

5. Thomas Farthing

Among Bloomsbury’s stream of independent boutiques, menswear brand Thomas Farthing specialises in classic 1930s suiting, notably tween and linen, along with hats, knitwear and accessories. This is the place to find that smart piece of kit with a strong streak of character running through it – a herringbone waistcoat, perhaps, or a fur felt fedora. Whatever you’re after, from a three-piece suit to a simple pocket square, the team here are ideally qualified to point you in the right direction.  

Thomas Farthing, 40 Museum St, London WC1A 1LU