220 Best Places to Shop in England

Agent Provocateur

Soho Fodor's choice

Created by punk fashion designer Vivienne Westwood's son and daughter-in-law, this line of lingerie in gorgeous fabrics, silks, latex, and lace tends toward the kind of risqué underwear that is both provocative and practical. The original boudoir-like shop is staffed by assistants in prim pink uniforms in what was Soho's red-light district, but the brand has gone a bit more mainstream and now also sells bathing suits, nightwear, jewelry, and luggage in multiple locations in Knightsbridge, Mayfair, Victoria, and Notting Hill.

B&W Thornton

Fodor's choice

Above Shakespeare’s Birthplace, B&W Thornton stocks Moorcroft pottery and glass along with Shakespearean figurines.

Barter Books

Fodor's choice

This extraordinary secondhand bookshop, set within Alnwick's former Victorian railway station, is a must-visit for bookworms, architecture lovers, and train geeks alike. Shelves galore groan with a mix of mainstream, niche, and antiquarian books, while visitors will also enjoy the open fires in winter, the comfy sofas and armchairs, the kids' corner, the excellent café, and the little toy train rattling along a track overhead. Barter Books was also responsible for the whole "Keep Calm and Carry On" craze, as the owners discovered the old World War II posters when converting the old station.

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Benjamin Pollock's Toyshop

Covent Garden Fodor's choice

This landmark toy shop still carries on the tradition of its eponymous founder, who sold miniature theater stages made from richly detailed paper from the late 19th century until his death in 1937. Among his admirers was author Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote, "If you love art, folly, or the bright eyes of children, speed to Pollock's." Today the mesmerizing antique model theaters are expensive, but there are plenty of magical reproductions for less than £10. There's also an extensive selection of nostalgic puppets, marionettes, teddy bears, Victorian paper dolls, spinning tops, jack-in-the-boxes, and similar traditional children's toys from the days before batteries were required (or toys were even run on them).

Berry Bros. & Rudd

St. James's Fodor's choice

Nothing matches Berry Bros. & Rudd for rare offerings and a unique shopping experience. A family-run wine business since 1698 (Lord Byron was a customer), BBR stores more than 20,000 vintage bottles and casks in vaulted cellars that are more than 300 years old. The in-house wine school offers educational tasting sessions, while the branch at 63 Pall Mall has an excellent selection of whiskeys, cognacs, rums, and more. The shop has a quirky charm, and the staff are extremely knowledgeable—and not snooty if you're on a budget.

Blackout II

Covent Garden Fodor's choice

Escape the bustle of Covent Garden's Neal Street here at one of London's top vintage clothing shops. Its two small floors are overflowing with high-end vintage dresses, coats, suits, costume jewelry,  shoes, and more from the 1920s to the 1970s. With that much to choose from, you'll be hard-pressed to leave without finding something to sharpen up your look.

Book Hive

Fodor's choice

Considered by many to be among the best bookstores in England, the Book Hive has a rounded glass facade that gives you a hint of the treasures within. The three-story independent shop specializes in fiction, poetry, art and design, cooking, and children's books. Drop by, and you might stumble onto a book reading, cooking class, or other event.

Books for Cooks

Notting Hill Fodor's choice

It may seem odd to describe a bookshop as delicious smelling, but on several days you can't help but notice the aromas wafting out of the tiny café in the back of this cookbook shop, where the resident chef cooks a three-course set lunch for only £7, served from noon on Tuesday through Friday (it's first come, first served, so get there early). The dishes are drawn from recipes in the 8,000 cookbooks on the shelves. Just about every world cuisine is represented, along with a complete lineup of works by celebrity chefs. Before you come to London, visit the shop's website to sign up for a specialized cooking workshop in the upstairs demonstration kitchen.

Broadway Market

Hackney Fodor's choice

This parade of shops in hipster-centric Hackney (north of Regent's Canal) is worth visiting for the specialty bookshops, independent boutiques, organic cafés, neighborhood restaurants, and welcoming community feel. But wait for Saturday (9–5), when it really comes into its own with a farmers' market and more than 70 street-food and produce stalls rivaling those of south London's famed Borough Market. Artisan breads, cheeses, pastries, organic meats, waffles, fruit and vegetables, seafood, and international food offerings: this is foodie heaven. There are also stalls selling vintage clothes, crafts, jewelry, and more. There is a smaller market on Sunday.

Bullring & Grand Central

City Centre Fodor's choice

This huge dual complex consists of the Bullring, built on the site of a medieval marketplace, and Grand Central, based in Birmingham New Street Station; together they offer over 200 stores to browse. Don’t miss the stunningly curved architecture of Selfridge’s and its awesome food hall.

Catching Lives Charity Bookshop

Fodor's choice

One of Canterbury's most photographed buildings (and that's saying something), this wonderfully crooked half-timbered house dates back to the 17th century. Inside, volunteers sell a wide range of secondhand and collectable books, with all profits going to the local homeless charity Catching Lives.

Chaucer Head Bookshop

Fodor's choice

This is the best of Stratford's many secondhand bookshops and a great place to pick up books on British history and travel.

Chester Market

Fodor's choice

This indoor market, near the Town Hall, has more than 50 stalls, including Chester’s only fishmonger. It's a great place to try local food delicacies. It’s open Monday through Saturday from 8 am until 5 pm (except for bank holidays), with late night hours (until 10 pm) on Fridays and Saturdays.

Church Street

Fodor's choice

The independent shops of Church Street, which leads off from the Cathedral green, are a delight to discover and sell everything from homemade cakes and vegan snacks to art and vintage clothing. It's a great place to browse.

Clive Sawyer Gallery

Fodor's choice

This open-plan gallery shop showcases the eye-catching fine art photography of Clive Sawyer. The larger framed images are printed using the ChromaLuxe process, making them richly colorful and vibrant.

Columbia Road Flower Market

Hoxton Fodor's choice

London's premier flower market is about as pretty and photogenic as they come, with more than 50 stalls selling flowers, shrubs, bulbs, and trees—everything from bedding plants to 10-foot banana trees—as well as garden tools, pots, and accessories at competitive prices. The stallholders' patter is part of the fun. It's on Sunday only, and it's all over by 3 pm. Columbia Road itself is lined with 60 interesting independent shops purveying art, fashion, furnishings (most of which are only open on weekends), and the local cafés are superb.

Covent Garden Market

Covent Garden Fodor's choice

Established in the 1670s as a thriving fruit, herb, and flower market, this popular historic piazza now has three separate market areas: the Apple Market, the East Colonnade Market, and the Jubilee Market. In the main covered area originally designed by Inigo Jones and known as the Apple Market, 40 stalls sell handcrafted jewelry, prints, clothes, ceramics, and crafts from Tuesday through Sunday, while Monday is given over to antiques, curios, and collectibles. The East Colonnade Market has stalls with mostly handmade specialty items like soaps and jewelry, as well as housewares, accessories, and magic tricks. The Jubilee Market, in Jubilee Hall toward Southampton Street, tends toward kitschy T-shirts and cheap household goods Tuesday through Friday but has vintage antiques and collectibles on Monday and handmade goods on weekends.

Largely aimed at the tourist trade in the past, Covent Garden Market continues its ascent, introducing a more sophisticated image (and correspondingly higher prices) with the opening of upscale restaurants and chains in the surrounding arcades, including a huge Apple Store; beauty outlets like Chanel, M.A.C., and Dior; and boutiques for top brands like Mulberry and N.Peal. Don't miss the magicians, musicians, jugglers, and escape artists who perform in the open-air piazza; the performances are free (though contributions are welcome).

Covered Market

Fodor's choice

This is a fine place for a cheap sandwich and a leisurely browse; the smell of pastries and coffee follows you from cake shop to jeweler to cheesemonger.

Crescent Silver

Jewellery Quarter Fodor's choice

In the heart of the Jewellery Quarter, this shop sells a range of interesting silver jewelry and gifts. It currently stocks its wares at sales outlets at Highgrove (King Charles III's private home) and royal palaces.

Daunt Books

Marylebone Fodor's choice

An independent bookstore chain (there are additional branches in Belsize Park, Hampstead, Holland Park, and Cheapside), Daunt favors a thoughtful selection of contemporary and classic fiction and nonfiction. The striking Marylebone branch is an original Edwardian bookstore, where a dramatic room with a long oak-paneled gallery under lofty skylights houses the noted travel section, which includes not only guidebooks but also related literature and poetry. The Hampstead branch is strong on children's books.


Mayfair Fodor's choice

A manageably sized department store, Fenwick is a welcome haven of affordability in a shopping area where stratospheric prices are the norm. The store is particularly strong on accessories (notably lingerie, wraps, and hats), cosmetics, perfumes, and chic, wearable fashion by both big names and more niche designers such as Goat, J Brand, and Tory Burch. There are also three small spas (Chantecaille, La Prairie, and a Blink waxing room), various beauty services (including a hair salon, nail bar, and Blink brow bar), and three restaurants, plus a men's department in the basement.

Fortnum & Mason

St. James's Fodor's choice

Although F&M was jokingly known as "the Queen's grocer" (time will tell if the nickname will keep pace with the change of monarch) and the impeccably mannered staff still wear traditional tailcoats, its celebrated food hall stocks gifts for all budgets, including irresistibly packaged luxury foods stamped with the gold "By Appointment" crest for under £5. Try the teas, preserves (including the unusual rose-petal jelly), condiments, or Gentleman's Relish (anchovy paste). The store's famous hampers are always a welcome gift.

The gleaming food hall spans two floors and incorporates a sleek wine bar, with the rest of the store devoted to upscale housewares, men's and women's accessories and toiletries, a dedicated candle room, and a jewelry department featuring exclusive designs by breakthrough talent. If you start to flag, take a break in the tea salon; or FIELD, which specializes in local ingredients and overlooks the food hall; or the contemporary 45 Jermyn St. restaurant (the three-course set menu is a good value); or head to the indulgent ice-cream parlor, where you can find decadent treats like a banana split or a less-traditional gin-and-tonic float. There's another branch at St. Pancras International train station.


Soho Fodor's choice

Founded in 1903 by the Foyle brothers after they failed the Civil Service exams, this labyrinthine family-owned bookstore and literary landmark is in a 1930s art deco building, once the home of the renowned art and fashion college Central Saint Martins. One of London's best sources for textbooks and the United Kingdom's largest retailer of foreign language books, with more than 200,000 titles on its four miles of bookshelves, Foyles also stocks everything from popular fiction to military history, sheet music, medical tomes, graphic novels, and illustrated fine arts books. It also offers the in-store Ray's Jazz (one of London's better outlets for music) and a cool jazz café. Foyles also has a branch at the Royal Festival Hall in the Southbank Centre.

Geo F. Trumper

St. James's Fodor's choice

If you don't have the time for an old-fashioned hot-towel shave at this "traditional gentlemen's barbers" established in 1875, pick up a razor, a shaving brush, or other men's grooming accessories to take home for yourself or as a gift. The Extract of Limes Skin Food is a popular, zingy aftershave, and the Coconut Oil Hard Shaving Soap, which comes in a hand-turned wooden bowl, is a classic. There is also a store at 9 Curzon Street in Mayfair.

Grasmere Gingerbread Shop

Fodor's choice

The smells wafting across the churchyard draw many people to the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop. Since 1854, Sarah Nelson's gingerbread has been sold from this cramped 17th-century cottage, which was once the village school. The delicious treats, still made from a secret recipe, are sold by costumed ladies and packed into attractive tins for the journey home or to eat right away.

Great Western Arcade

Fodor's choice

This Victorian shopping mall near Snow Hill Station is a nice respite from the city’s chain stores. Built with a similar design to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, it’s a more elegant place to shop than most. Peruse the charming boutiques and specialist shops, and you may end up going back with a couture hat, some Scottish whiskey, or even a cigar or two.

Grosvenor Prints

Covent Garden Fodor's choice

London's largest collection of 17th- to early-20th-century prints focuses on views of London and its architecture and denizens, as well as royal, sporting, and decorative motifs. From master printmaker William Hogarth to English political caricaturist James Gillray, the delightfully higgledy-piggledy selection is hugely eclectic, with prices ranging from £20 into the thousands. Staff will happily ship globally; just note that it's closed on weekends.


St. James's Fodor's choice

This is the United Kingdom's oldest bookshop, open since 1797 and beloved by writers themselves—customers have included Oscar Wilde, Rudyard Kipling, and Lord Byron. Despite its wood-paneled, "gentleman's library" atmosphere and eclectic selection of books, Hatchards is now owned by the large Waterstones chain. Nevertheless, the shop still retains its period charm, aided by the staff's old-fashioned helpfulness and expertise. Look for the substantial number of books signed by notable contemporary authors on the well-stocked shelves. There's another branch in the St. Pancras International train station.

Heywood Hill

Mayfair Fodor's choice

Open since 1936, this is considered by some to be the best small bookstore in the English-speaking world—John Le Carré, who set a scene in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy here, was a long-standing customer. Browse for a leather-bound volume on architecture, gardening, natural history, or topography—just some of the topics in which the antiquarian collection specializes. The contemporary selection emphasizes literature, history, biography, travel, architecture, and children's books, and the knowledgeable staff is happy to provide advice. During World War II, author Nancy Mitford helped keep the bookstore going. Today, the 12th Duke of Devonshire, a descendant of her brother-in-law, the 11th Duke, is the owner.

James & John Graham of Penrith Ltd.

Fodor's choice

Artisanal cheese and the best of Cumbria's local produce, including the town’s famously good toffee, are available at this mouthwateringly good bakery and deli. The hot steak pie is perhaps the best you'll ever taste.