In our 5 Shops series, we’ll point you in the direction of our favorite independent shops across some of the world’s best cities. From food markets to bookshops, vintage and homegrown design, we’ve found a diverse and exciting mix of local retailers where you can pick up one-of-a-kind pieces.
When shopping in London, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by choice.
This world capital offers something for everyone – and a rather dizzying number of places to buy whatever you need. Whether you’re looking for a memorable souvenir, a great snack or a vintage gem you won’t find anywhere else, we’ve compiled our five favorite independent shops in London to ensure you don’t miss out.
The London Transport Museum Shop is the best place to buy a souvenir
For something a little more special than a Union Jack pen or a royal-themed keyring, make a stop at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. You don’t need to buy an entry ticket to visit the shop, where you can find a huge selection of keepsakes inspired by the city’s iconic transport network. There’s plenty of Paddington Bear merch for the kids, while grown-ups can choose from vintage-inspired posters (£10), socks featuring red Routemasters (£12) or a set of four mugs bearing the unique moquette patterns as seen on the seats of London’s Tube and buses (£45).
Score the best vintage finds at Rellik
The neighborhood around Portobello Rd is the city’s top shopping destination for secondhand fashion, antiques and bric-a-brac, with the Saturday market proving especially busy. One boutique shines brightest: Rellik, just around the corner on Golborne Rd. It sells a dazzling array of vintage womenswear, jewelry and accessories, with budget-friendly buys like blouses and belts under £50, along with an impressive edit of designer pieces by British names, including a 1990s wool tartan skirt suit by Vivienne Westwood (£595), and international brands, such as a 1980s Yves Saint Laurent jacket and skirt set in metallic gold brocade (£385).
London’s best bookstore is Daunt Books Marylebone
There are bigger bookstores in the city, but what makes this beautiful Edwardian store a must-visit for tourists is its cataloging system. As it was originally a travel bookshop, the shelves in its long oak gallery are still organized geographically, which means you can browse guides, history and fiction by country or continent. Don’t leave without picking up one of the canvas tote bags illustrated with the store’s facade (£15), the most stylish way to hold your new purchases.
London’s best lifestyle boutique? Goodhood
This lifestyle store has become a staple of London’s East End, offering affordable and luxury menswear, womenswear, beauty and homewares from British and international makers, spread out across two floors. Local designers to look out for include YMC, Universal Works, Folk and luxury streetwear label Aries – check out its effortlessly cool logo tees and sweatshirts (from £70). We also love scented candles from Haeckels (£55), inspired by the skincare company’s coastal surroundings in Margate, and the timeless sneakers from East London brand Stepney Workers Club (from £70).
Visit Borough Market to enjoy the best food market in town
No visit to London is complete without a stop at the city’s oldest food market, packed with stalls selling everything from vegan cheese to delicate pastries to classic fish-and-chips. To narrow it down, try a delicious sandwich like the pulled pork on brioche with apple sauce from Hobbs Roast (£7.50), or a cheese toastie at Kappacasein Dairy (£7). Finish off with a treat well worth queuing for: Bread Ahead Bakery’s famous doughnut (£4), available in such flavors as sea salted caramel and honeycomb, chocolate or raspberry jam.