London: summer shopping guide
From pop-ups to Victorian arcades, London is a shopper’s delight.
With shops devoted to hand-rolled cigars, cufflinks and shooting rifles St James's is the domain of London’s high-born. It’s also home to some of the oldest shops to be found anywhere, making it a fascinating place for a shopping expedition. On St James' Street is Britain’s oldest wine merchant, Berry Bros & Rudd which opened in 1698. Three doors down, is Lock & Co, the world’s oldest hat shop. Their heritage room is a snapshot of hat history, featuring, among other things, a replica of the hat they made for Nelson. Winston Churchill and the Queen were customers too. St James's historic shopping arcades are also worth exploring. Beautifully restored to their former glory, they are full of luxuries you don’t need but still want, like the traditional hand-painted toy soldiers sold by the Armoury of St James in Piccadilly Arcade, or, in Burlington Arcade, the cream-filled macarons sold by Ladurée, who invented them in 1930 and still makes them today to the same recipe.
Mention Notting Hill and Portobello Market immediately springs to mind, but while the antique market is fun to wander through, it definitely isn't the only place in Notting Hill to go shopping. In fact, there’s something for everyone in London's most colourful neighbourhood. Fashionistas will be in heaven exploring lifestyle store Couverture and the Garbstore or rummaging for vintage finds at One of a Kind. Those in need of pampering can head to Westbourne Grove for Goop’s pop-up shop and boutiques like Space NK. Music fans can mooch around Honest Jon’s on Portobello Road or Rough Trade West on Talbot Road. Design-lovers will find stylish, unique homewares and gifts at Pedlars and Native & Co. And you can still stumble upon places with their roots in the area’s West Indian past, like People’s Sound Records on All Saints Road – although this aspect of Notting Hill’s history is disappearing rapidly.
Old Spitalfields Market makes a refreshing change from the high street, with stalls selling jewellery, homewares, prints, records and clothing all under one roof. The market’s gem is the Kitchens, a collection of street food outlets, dishing up everything from dumplings to steamed buns with tables in the middle where you can sit and eat. You can easily spend the whole day in this part of London. Once you’ve been to the market, there’s more shopping to be done on Brick Lane or Shoreditch High Street, both of which have art galleries and unique clothing and homeware stores. Or, take a stroll along Fournier or Folgate Streets, which are lined with the beautifully preserved 17th-century homes of Huguenot silk weavers.