London is a shopper's delight, packed with historic stores like Selfridges and Liberty of London and whimsical boutiques and designer shops that cater to every kind of sensibility--and budget. And with the pound at historically low levels, your dollar will go that much further.
The streets around Mayfair and Piccadilly are known for luxury, while neighborhoods like Clerkenwell in East London are best for whimsical fashion and cool cafes. Below is a sampling of a few of our favorite stores chosen from thousands. Just be warned: London is big, so you'll want to give yourself plenty of time to explore.
1. Dover Street Market, 18-22 Haymarket Street, Piccadilly Lose yourself in six floors of fashion hotness. Founded by Comme des Garcons designer Rei Kawakubo, Dover Street offers major designers like Celine and Valentino, as well as hard-to-find grooming products like cult French cosmetics brand, Buly. There are branches in New York and Ginza today, but this is the original, and still the best.
2. Daunt Books, 84 Marylebone High Street With seven locations in London, Daunt is the book lover's bookstore, brimful of charm, whimsy, and passion. Make a beeline for the branch at 84 Marylebone High Street with its spectacular balconies and Edwardian-style sensibility. Allow time--the displays are so inviting you'll be hard pushed to tear yourself away.
3. La Portegna, 26 Marylebone High Street While you're in Marylebone, check out this Spanish boutique which specializes in hand-crafted leather travel bags and footwear, inspired by a lion skin rug gifted to the founder's grandparents by Ernest Hemingway.
4. Selfridges, 400 Oxford St, Marylebone Across its five floors, Selfridges raises commerce to an art form. A Selfridges shopping bag is a graphic design dream of black block text on egg yolk yellow. On its first floor, Dries Van Noten and J.W. Anderson hang like works of art, to be discussed in hushed, excited tones. But for more exclusive attention, try the personal-shopping experience. As you search for the perfect blazer or trousers, lounge in the sitting room with its comfy sofas and a blue bookcase filled with fashion reference materials. Then end your trip with a cocktail at Harry Gordon's Bar & Kitchen.
5. Liberty of London, Regent St. and Carnaby London's Carnaby Street was the epitome of swinging London, home to long lost fashion boutiques like Mary Quant and Foale & Tuffin. One fashion behemoth still open for business is the department store Liberty, celebrated in the '60s for its signature Paisley prints. With its Tudor facade and a tangle of rooms resembling a stately home, Liberty has a long tradition of designer collaborations, from William Morris in the Victorian era to Vivienne Westwood more recently. After you're done browsing its excellent menswear department, stop by the in-house barber shop, Murdock, for a classic wet shave.
6. Rough Trade East, Old Truman Brewery Vinyl junkies beware: The iconic London record label (home of The Smiths, The Strokes, and other seminal artists) is also a purveyor of rare and collectible albums, with staff that cares about music as much as their customers. With free in-store gigs, an excellent cafe, and beer on tap, this east London stalwart is a rabbit hole you'll want to get lost in.
7. Choose Keeping, 128 Columbia Rd. Maybe you didn't think you needed a Perspex pencil sharpener or a Daffodil paperweight, but once you've stepped into this east London stationery store, you'll come away with all sorts of things you didn't know you needed--until you did.
8. Sunspel, Multiple Locations You admired Sunspel when Daniel Craig donned the navy Riviera polo shirt in Casino Royale. Grab one for yourself at this U.K. boutique, which has been specializing in high-quality cotton knit apparel since 1860. We're big fans of the boxer shorts and super-soft Pima tees--and, of course, whatever Craig is wearing.
9. Natural Selection, 46 Monmouth St. Founded as a denim brand in 2009, Natural Selection has since expanded its ready-to-wear collection to include all men's essentials. The young label features a neutral color palette--whites, grays, blues--combined with clean lines and relaxed, yet slimming, tailoring.
10. The Vintage Showroom, 14 Earldom St. This shop's museum vibe and extensive collection of mid-20th-century work-, military-, and sports-wear will have you trying on more 1960s-era leather jackets and green army coats than you can count. Check out the additional racks of goods downstairs, and consider booking an appointment at the showroom, near Notting Hill, for personal design and styling inspiration. 14 Earldom St.
11. Spitalfields Market, Horner Square For the last 141 years, Horner Square has been home to Spitalfields Market, which hosts one of the largest covered bazaars in London. Surrounded by cafes, bars, shops and awarding-winning restaurants including Canteen and Galvin La Chapelle, Spitalfields Market is not to be missed. Every day, the market opens its doors and welcomes an assortment of fine merchants and enthusiastic patrons eager to make deals at dozens of stalls where you'll find a variety of affordable goods. From vintage fashion and jewelry to original artwork and knick-knacks, there's something for everyone under Spitalfields' breathtaking glass canopy. The market is situated in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, just outside London. Finding your way is easy; simply hop on the London Underground and hop off at Liverpool Street.
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