Take advantage of the low price of the pound and ongoing sales and get your credit card out for some shopping in London. Here is our guide to the city’s best retail areas.
1. Upper Street
Tube stop: Angel to Highbury & Islington
Vibe: More interesting than your average high street, Upper Street offers mainstream stores, hip independent boutiques and lots of gourmet cafés.
The route: Walk to the right out of Angel Tube to Camden Passage, where you’ll find a market selling vintage clothes and jewelry, as well as chic boutiques including Frost French and eco-friendly Equa. There’s more designer womenswear back on Upper Street at Diverse, Whistles, Ghost and menswear at Sefton and Zee & Co. Oliver Bonas offers fashion, furniture and gifts at reasonable prices, and Twentytwentyone, Revelloyd and Atelier Abigail Ahern sell designer homeware. Try Space NK for hot beauty products from all over the world.
Lunch stop: A full English breakfast at The Breakfast Club on Camden Passage.
2. Oxford Street and Bond Street
Tube stop: Oxford Street to Green Park
Vibe: Europe’s busiest shopping street is host to major brands’ flagship shops and classic department stores. Its neighbour, Bond Street, offers designer brands from Mulberry to Alexander McQueen.
The route: Make your pilgrimage to Topshop at Oxford Circus, then turn into Regent’s Street to find the Apple Store, historic department store Liberty and giant toyshop Hamleys.
Return to Oxford Street for department stores including John Lewis and Selfridges, which is celebrating its centenary this year, and look for budget fashion at H&M, Primark, New Look and River Island. On Bond Street, you’ll find high-end jewelers and fashion stores including Miu Miu, Hermes, D&G, Prada and Chanel, as well as old-fashioned shopping arcades including The Royal Arcade where you can get shoes handmade for you at G.J. Cleverley.
Pay a visit to neighbouring Dover Street for the designer concept store Dover Street Market, where you can admire avant-garde fashions from Gareth Pugh, Comme des Garcons, Hussein Chalayan and Christopher Kane.
Lunch stop: By the time you’ve reached Piccadilly it will be time for afternoon tea. Graze on sandwiches, scones and cakes at the elegant Wolseley restaurant, next to the Ritz.
3. Spitalfields and Brick Lane
Tube stop: Liverpool Street
Vibe: This area is home to retro markets, vintage clothing stores and bohemian cafés frequented by Hoxton hipsters in skinny jeans and coloured Ray-Bans.
The route: Come out of Liverpool Street Station and cross over to Spitalfields Market, spitalfields.co.uk. On weekdays there’s an eclectic mix of shops to browse through and on weekends, stalls sell vintage sunglasses and lampshades, artwork from up-and-coming artists and fashions from art-school designers.
Continue onto Brick Lane, lined with curry restaurants and hip boutiques. Visit Luna & Curious for a mix of porcelain butterfly charms and ’70s-style waistcoats; and Mimi Berry for East London’s coolest pretty, squishy leather handbags with flirty names. On Sundays the old Truman Brewery warehouse hosts Up Market, consisting of 140 stalls selling fashion, vinyl, crafts and jewelry. If you have any energy left, Cheshire Street’s Beyond Retro is an Aladdin’s Cave of fringed leather bags, plaid shirts, and floral tea dresses.
Lunch stop: Stop for a brownie or superfood salad at healthy fast food joint Leon in Spitalfields market square.
4. Notting Hill and Portobello Road
Tube stop: Notting Hill Gate
Vibe: Home to London’s society fashion crowd — think Luella Bartley and Sienna Miller — Notting Hill is good for fashion new and old.
The route: Come out of Notting Hill Gate tube and head up Pembridge Road to hit Portobello Road, where the mythical market mile sells everything from antique lamps to 1950s straw hats.
Running alongside is Kensington Park Road, where Coco Ribbon sells luxury items oozing in femininity and British designer Paul Smith devotes a whole townhouse to his clothes and accessories.
Try Westbourne Grove for some bohemian attitude at Sienna and Savannah Millers’ boutique Twenty8Twelve and then move on to Ledbury Road for some Parisian-style purchases including Repetto ballet pumps or Antik Batik pearl kaftans and ornate brooches at designer boutique Aimé.
Lunch stop: Try Ottolenghi on Ledbury Road for healthy deli snacks and flourless chocolate cake.
5. Knightsbridge and Kings Road
Tube stop: Knightsbridge to Sloane Square
Vibe: This area is the shopping mecca of the mega-rich, who cruise the lavish department stores and designer boutiques that are dedicated to their every need.
The route: You step into another world when you exit Knightsbridge tube and enter the gold and green doors of Harrods. It’s a warren of sumptuous rooms dedicated to the finest and most expensive versions of everything — watches, jewelry, furniture, clothes, sportswear, shoes, and even pet fashions.
If the price of the Chloe handbags makes your eyes water then hit the Food Hall, which has beautifully-packaged but more affordable edible treats to take home. Like Absolutely Fabulous’ Patsy and Edina, fashionistas will prefer Harvey Nichols, the designer department store across the road.
For more bling head down Sloane Street for YSL, Gucci, and Jimmy Choo, and nearer to Sloane Square, you’ll find fragrance guru Jo Malone. On Sloane Square check out the charms at Links of London and the refreshing interiors at The White Company. Hit the King’s Road for French caftans and bangles at Reminiscence, unusual fashions at Graham & Green, and London’s prettiest chocolate shop, Rococo.
Lunch stop: Snack on a cheap but delicious Lebanese shawarma from Maroush II, maroush.com, on Beauchamp Place, or Ranoush on the King’s Road.
Top 5 London markets
Borough Market: Hangout for organic-food-focused Londoners. Try the ostrich burgers, and the chorizo and rocket rolls at Brindisa. Southwark Street, Borough, SE1, Thurs-Sat , boroughmarket.org.uk.
Alfies Antique Market: The likes of Kate Moss haggle over 1920s style antiques including furniture and accessories. 13-25 Church St., Marylebone NW8 8DT, Tues-Sat., www.alfiesantiques.com.
Columbia Road Flower Market: Columbia Road blossoms into a stretch of flowers on Sunday, on a road lined with quaint delis and pretty shops. Columbia Road, Bethnal Green, E2, Sundays
Camden Market: Built around Camden’s river lock, the market is packed with indescribable items. Stop for a pint at the ‘Hawley Arms’ pub, where Amy Winehouse is a regular. Camden High Street, daily, www.camdenlock.net.
Broadway Market: Jewel of Hackney, Broadway sells an eclectic mix of art and organic foods. Try R Cooke & Sons’ jellied eels and pies for old-school London food. Broadway Market, E8, Saturdays, broadwaymarket.co.uk.