101 GuidescityTravel

london city guide {update}

by Grace Bonney

Today’s London City Guide update comes from the original guide author, Lynne Robinson of the blog Tea for Joy and the store Paper Mash, and Nick Wyke, a writer and editor for The Times and founder of the Looking to Cook cooking school directory. Like any huge city, it’s hard to catch every shop, restaurant and favorite spot, so if you have a favorite that’s missing, please feel free to add it in the comment section below. Thank you, Lynne and Nick, for a wonderful update! — Stephanie

Read the full guide after the jump . . .

London is a vibrant city, full of leafy residential neighbourhoods with their own music, arts and food scene, as well as its more urban and historic attractions. Don’t be too ambitious with the amount of ground you can cover in one day, and visit attractions off-peak if you can. The national museums have stunning collections and free entry, but some of the smaller galleries and museums can be equally rewarding. In London, you are never far from a green space, so try to walk through a park wherever you can.

Check out the Google Map with all of the below listings.


The trendiest design scene in London is in the East End, with lots of vintage stores and most of the action occurring on Sunday. The area is walkable, so start with the Columbia Road Market. While in the area, walk to Spitalfields Market or the Sunday Up Market on Brick Lane (which has more unique and funky items than Spitalfields) and examine the surrounding streets. The nearby Geffrye Furniture Museum is also worth a visit. There is a vibrant food market at Broadway Market in Hackney on Saturdays, and both Spitalfields and the Sunday Up Market have lots of food stalls and surrounding restaurants. Close to Spitalfields, 19 Princelet Street is an unrestored silk weavers’ home, which is rarely open to the public, but it’s worth joining the mailing list just in case.


The Hoxton Hotel (81 Great Eastern St, EC2A 3HU) Some no-frills features (Pret-a-Manger breakfast delivered to your room) but lower than normal London prices and periodic promotions that sell five rooms each night at £1.

Town Hall Hotel & Apartments (8 Patriot Square, E2 9NF) Trendy hotel decorated with vintage furniture and art commissions from young artists.


Brawn (49 Columbia Road, E2 7RG) Bringing this year’s “big flavours, small plates” trend to carnivores roaming Columbia Road. Natural wines and functional furniture.

Jones Dairy (23 Ezra Street, E2 7RH) A tiny parlour of a place serving a few home-cooked dishes and cakes, just off the busy beaten path of Columbia Market.

Leila’s Shop and Delicatessen (17 Calvert Avenue, E2 7JP) A Shoreditch neighbourhood gem with great breakfasts, light lunches, superb hot chocolate and brownies.

Albion Café (2-4 Boundary Street, E2 7DD) British deli food by Conran in handsome surrounds.

Corner Room Bistro (Town Hall Hotel & Apartments, E2 9NF) Portuguese Chef Nuno Mendes cooks to a more affordable and approachable tune than his nearby flagship, Viajante’s restaurant. Arty, cool interior. No bookings.

The Deli Downstairs (211 Victoria Park Road, London E9 7JN) Runner-up in the 2011 Deli of the Year competition, this family-run shop in Hackney has old Victorian street signs and a full range of organic groceries.


Columbia Road Market Open-air Sunday flower market, from early until around 2 to 3pm. Many of the shops are only open on Sunday and keep similar opening hours. Go to the market near closing time to buy flowers at knock-down prices.

Two Columbia Road (2 Columbia Road, E2 7NN) Collectable vintage furniture and art from designers including Charles Eames and Hans Wegner.

Ryantown (126 Columbia Road, E2 7RG) Papercuts, tiles and cards from papercut legend Rob Ryan.

Nelly Duff (156 Columbia road, E2 7RG) Contemporary prints and limited editions

Buddug (158 Columbia Road, E2 7RG) A girly haven that sells handcrafted enamel plates, lovespoons and items made with vintage ephemera, lace and linen.

Beyond Fabrics (67 Columbia Road, E2 7RG) A large selection of patterned fabrics, especially suitable for quilting, as well as drop-in workshops.

Elphicks (160 Columbia Road, E2 7RG) Reasonably priced prints from UK artists, including the owner, Sharon Elphick.

Ben Southgate (4 The Courtyard, Ezra Street, E2 7RH) Purveyor of vintage furniture, which often includes plan chests and antique shop cabinets.

Columbia Road Gallery (7 The Courtyard, Ezra Street, E2 7RH) A small gallery, selling serene landscapes and seascapes from Cornwall-based artists.

Vintage Heaven (82 Columbia Road, E2 7QB) A well-chosen selection of vintage crockery and more, including a charming tea shop decorated with a gallery wall of tapestry pictures.

Supernice (106 Columbia Road, E2 7RG) A huge range of Blik wall stickers and decals, as well as Thomas Paul plates.

Treacle (110-112 Columbia Road, E2 7RG) Primarily a cupcake bakery, this shop also offers a great selection of new and vintage ceramics.



The Vintage Emporium Cafe (14 Bacon Street, E1 6LF) Tea rooms in vintage-decorated surroundings.

Whitechapel Gallery Dining Room (Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, E1 7QX) Quality European dining in a cool art gallery restaurant by one of Britain’s leading chefs, Angela Hartnett.


Le Grenier (146 Bethnal Green Road, E2 6DG) Eclectic mix of vintage collectables

Unto This Last (230 Brick Lane, E2 7EB) Simple and affordable furniture made from laminate birch plywood.

Labour and Wait (85 Redchurch St, E2 7DJ) Functional homewares with utilitarian design, including enamel saucepans, feather dusters and wooden brushes.

Caravan (3 Redchurch St, E2 7DJ) Pretty homewares that reflect the shabby chic and vintage style of owner and interiors stylist, Emily Chalmers.

Mar Mar Co (16 Cheshire St, E2 6EH) Simple but stylish homewares

Comfort Station (22 Cheshire Street London E2 6EH) Stunning jewellery including necklaces incorporating old poetry books and barometer necklaces that you can change with your mood.

Backyard Market (146 Brick Lane) Smaller market with independent designers; next to it are The Tea Rooms, which include a tea shop as well as a large range of vintage homewares sellers.

Blitz London (55-59 Hanbury Street, E1 5JP) London’s new vintage department store, selling a huge range of clothing and homewares.



The Lollipop Shoppe (10 Lamb Street, Old Spitalfields Market, E1 6EA) Contemporary furniture and official design reproductions of Vitra and Eames classics.

Elemental (67 Brushfield Street, Old Spitalfields Market, E1 6AA) Quirky vintage finds and furniture

Beedell Coram (86 Commercial Street, E1 6LY) A cluttered space with lots of appealing Victorian antiques.


Islington has an antiques market in Camden Passage on Saturdays and some notable design shops, as well as the Sadler’s Wells Theatre, famous for its contemporary dance productions. Nearby, closer to King’s Cross and St. Pancras stations, the British Library and the science-based Wellcome Collection (which both have very nice Peyton and Byrne cafés) offer excellent smaller and less crowded cultural displays than some of the larger museums. Close to King’s Cross Station, the façade of the recently reopened St. Pancras Hotel is stunning.


Rough Luxe (1 Birkenhead Street, London, WC1H 8BA) Distressed luxury is the design theme of this hotel with bare plaster walls.


Ottolenghi (287 Upper Street, N1 2TZ) Creative, contemporary meze-style dishes with window displays of seductive colour and beauty.

The Albion (10 Thornhill Road, N1 1HW) Eating at this perennially popular Georgian-style pub feels like being in the country. The Yorkshire puds are unbeatable.

Waterhouse Restaurant (10 Orsman Road, N1 5QU) Modern European food in a bright, airy canalside setting at London’s first truly environmentally sustainable restaurant.


Atelier Abigail Ahern (137 Upper Street N1 1QP) Boudoir glamour, including realistic and popular fake flowers.

TwentyTwentyOne (274 Upper Street, London N1 2UA) Twentieth-century design

Smug (13 Camden Passage, Islington, N1 8EA) A tastefully curated and merchandised  homewares store (we like their clever top 10 gift ideas), including Matt Pugh owls, Thornback and Peel textiles and the brilliant Wrap magazine.

Ray Stitch (99 Essex Road, N1 2SJ) Stylish sewing shop and haberdasher selling Merchant and Mills and Sublime stitching books.

Drink, Shop, Do (9 Caledonian Road, London, N1 9DX) Not far away, near King’s Cross Station, is this crafter’s paradise, with activities including Scrabble Sundays. It also retails a small selection of wares from independent designers.


If you must go to Portobello Road on a Saturday, rise early to avoid the hoards. Consider going on a Friday, when many of the antiques arcades are open, which will still give you lots of browsing opportunities without the street vendors. On Fridays and Saturdays, there is also a popular second-hand market at Golborne Road. A fun and nostalgic visit for all ages is also the independent Museum of Brands and Packaging. Not far away, the Leighton House Museum is decorated with a stunning array of Islamic tiles, and 18 Stafford Terrace is a preserved Victorian home.


The Hempel (31-35 Craven Hill Gardens, W2 3EA) Unstuffy luxury hotel inside a terrace of London houses overlooking its own pretty garden.


Books for Cooks (4 Blenheim Crescent, London W11 1NN) A longstanding cookery bookshop with a café at the back serving just one dish of the day, a selection of cakes and superlative coffee.

Pizza East (310 Portobello Road, W10 5TA) Portobello outpost of the trendy Shoreditch pizzeria with a handsome interior, wood-fired pizzas and a deli.


The Portobello Print and Map Shop (109 Portobello Road W11 2QB) Large selection of reasonably priced antique botanical prints and maps.

Pedlars (128 Talbot Rd, W11 1JA) Quirky homewares and prints with a strong emphasis on British design and nostalgia, such as vintage London bus blinds.

Couverture and the Garbstore (188 Kensington Park Road, W11 2ES) A well-curated range of clothing, with a small selection of tasteful homewares, kids’ items and stationery.

The Cloth Shop (290 Portobello Road, London, W10 5TE) New fabrics, as well as antique linen sacks and wool blankets.

Summerill and Bishop (100 Portland Road, London, W11 4LQ) Traditional and decorative kitchenware


Marylebone High Street and nearby: A great area for foodies, with specialist shops such as the Ginger Pig and La Fromagerie (which also has a café) on Moxon Street. From Marylebone High Street, you can easily reach Oxford Street, where the main clothing chains are (you can’t miss a visit to the flagship Topshop) as well as high-end department stores such as Selfridges, which has many designer concessions. Oxford Street will be unpleasantly busy on the weekend, although some parts of Soho (which is thriving with busy media industries during the week) may be quieter than during the week. Covering all of this area — from Marylebone to Oxford Circus to Soho then through Covent Garden to Charing Cross and Holborn — is possible by foot but will be exhausting, and you may want to intersperse some shopping with one of the many museums and galleries nearby. These include the Wallace Collection, Royal Academy, British Museum, National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery, many of which are open late on Fridays.



Natural Kitchen (77-78 Marylebone High Street,W1U 5JX) Marylebone’s equivalent of Wholefoods: vast choices of natural food and wine in the café and restaurant of this shop.

Sensory Lab (75 Wigmore Street, W1U 1QD) Coffee for true coffee connoisseurs, with scientific brew stations.


Alfies Antiques Market (13-25 Church Street NW8 8DT) Dealers of 20th-century design, with a particularly good selection of lighting and antique jewellery.

The Conran Shop (55 Marylebone High Street, W1U 5HS) Our favourite London location of this high-end design store is located in converted stables.

Eclectic (66 Marylebone High Street, W1U 5JF) Japanese ceramics and a cute Japanese tea counter.

Divertimenti (33/34 Marylebone High Street, W1U 4PT) High-end kitchenware for the serious chef, with a café that has a small selection of tasty deli-style food.

MacCulloch and Wallis (25-26 Dering St, W1S 1AT) Long-time haberdasher with antique counters that are frequented by local London College of Fashion students.



Dean Street Townhouse (69-71 Dean Street, W1D 3SE) A small hotel in the centre of Soho with a recommended restaurant.


Fernandez and Wells (Two locations, round the corner from each other: Café 73 Beak Street, W1F 9SR and Food and Wine Bar 43 Lexington Street W1F 9AL) What the owners like to call their “version of a European market stall in an English setting.” Great wine, tapas and coffee.

Nordic Bakery (14A Golden Square London W1F 9JG) Uber-cool Scandinavian café in Golden Square with Nordic cakes, coffee and open rye-bread sandwiches.


Liberty (Regent St, W1B 5AH) Iconic design store with accordingly marked-up prices, but it has particularly fabulous lighting, dining and stationery departments, and a charming tea shop.

Beyond the Valley (2 Newburgh Street W1F 7RD) Independent store stocking fashion, prints, stationery and ceramics by Shan Valla and Tina Tsang.

Lomography (3 Newburgh Street W1F 7RE) All things lomography-related for photography enthusiasts.

The Cloth House (47 and 98 Berwick Street, W1F OQJ) A fine selection of fabrics, including traditional ticking and linens.



Café at Foyles Bookshop (113-119 Charing Cross Road London WC2H 0EB) Literary haven for hearty sandwiches, deli-style food, cake galore and live music for good measure.

Dishoom (12 Upper St. Martin’s Lane London WC2H 9FB) London’s first Iranian-style Bombay café serves street food in a cool setting.

Bill’s (13 Slingsby Place, St Martin’s Courtyard, WC2E 9AB) Tasty all-day menus at this relaxed café/restaurant and store that uses seasonal British produce.

Da Polpo (6 Maiden Lane, WC2E 7NA) Another outpost from the Polpo stable — ultra cool, light bites, tattooed staff and no bookings.


Cecil Court Beside the National Gallery, a quirky row of antiquarian bookshops, such as David Drummond’s theatre-related ephemera shop, is well worth a browse. The more contemporary artist-run store Tenderpixel is unusual in its surroundings but sells a range of prints and small design items.



London Review Cake Shop (14 Bury Place, London, WC1A 2JL) Debate intellectual issues in the café of this bookshop, which also publishes the London Review of Books and is just across from the British Museum.


L Cornelissen & Son (105 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3RY) An art supply store. It’s worth a visit to see their antique signage and dark wooden drawers with gilded numbers.

Falkiners (76 Southampton Row, WC1B 4AR) Bookbinding paper, including Japanese chiyogami paper, and bookbinding workshops.

Volte Face (21 Great Ormond Street) Independent design and quirky children’s books, including bright leather satchels, Paperself eyelashes and stationery.

The French House (50 Lambs Conduit Street WC1N 3LL) French linens and tableware, and traditional enamel lighting.

Darkroom (52 Lambs Conduit Street WC1N 3LL) Homewares and fashion accessories with graphic and bold designs in geometric styles and primary colours.

Persephone Books (59 Lamb’s Conduit Street WC1N 3NB) Reprinted 20th-century fiction, mostly by female writers. Notable for their iconic grey covers (their diaries are equally beautiful) and rows of books pre-wrapped in pink tissue and black ribbon.

Nearby, Cockpit Arts, a collective of designer-makers’ studios, including Catherine Hammerton, Abigail Brown and Yoyo Ceramics, has open evenings twice a year.


Three of London’s largest and most impressive museums are clustered together here: the Science Museum (the most equipped for visitors with children); Natural History Museum, which has the outstanding Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition each year; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, with its collection of decorative arts (look out for its library, Leighton galleries, fashion galleries and the architecture rooms). The V&A museum currently has an excellent free exhibition in conjunction with the Craft Council, which celebrates the Power of Making. Its shop also stocks has a wide range of stylish crafts, jewellery and prints from independent designers. In recent years, some renowned design shops have relocated here, branding the area as the Brompton Design Quarter. Not far away, the Kings Road is very good for mid-priced clothes shopping.


The V&A Museum Café has an impressive dome and tiling and reasonable fare for a cultural institution. You can sit outside in the garden square on a sunny day; in the newly paved area between the Underground Station and the museum, the V&A Reading Rooms have a bar serving biodynamic wines and snacks, opposite from which is a branch of the Spanish tapas restaurant Brindisa.


Kings Road

Design House Stockholm (205 Kings Road SW3 5ED) Scandinavian design

Designers Guild (266-267 Kings Road SW3 5EN) Bold and bright floral fabric, wallpaper and tableware

Sigmar (263 Kings Road SW3 5EL) Original Scandinavian design classics, as well as some contemporary items such as Marthe Armitage’s stunning block-printed wallpaper.

Green and Stone (259 Kings Road, SW3 5EL) An expensive art supplies store that has everything you need and some small curiosities.

South Kensington

Skandium (245-249 Brompton Road SW3 2EP) Modern Scandinavian design. Stocks brands such as Marimekko and Asplund.

Few and Far (242 Brompton Road, London SW3 2BB) Unusual, small homeware items and gifts, selected by Priscilla Carluccio.

Mint (2 North Terrace, Alexander Square SW3 2BA) Expensive but exquisite range of furniture and gifts.


Not in the immediate vicinity, but easily accessible is The Orange (37 Pimlico Road SW1W 8NE), a pub with elegant bedrooms upstairs and a popular restaurant.


A historic naval area that boasts the Cutty Sark (re-opening in 2012 after a fire) and the National Maritime Museum, and it also has the Royal Observatory (where Greenwich Mean Time begins). The Royal Naval College’s Painted Hall is grand and stunning, as well as their chapel. Greenwich Market has lots of food stalls, as well as stallholders selling crafts.


Old Brewery (Pepys Building, Old Royal Naval College SE10 9LW) A stylish restaurant and café with an impressive beer list.


Market stalls include funky chicken doorstops from ReFab and delicate ceramics from Sinead O Moore.

Lush Lampshades (8 College Approach, Greenwich SE10) Vibrant lampshades and textiles with quirky animal and botanical designs.

The Home Front (2a Greenwich Market, SE10 9HZ) Homewares and gifts, including a good selection of prints from Jonny Hannah, James Brown and Aardvark prints.

Paper Moon (4 Greenwich Market, SE10 9HZ) Folk-inspired paper cuts from Central St. Martins graduate Wei Chen.

Greenwich Printmakers Gallery (1a Greenwich Market, London SE10 9HZ) An artists’ cooperative selling etchings and prints.

The Junk Shop (9 Greenwich South Street, SE10 8NW) Antiques and ephemera


The Southbank is a busy and interesting area to walk along the river, which often hosts special events, passing the British Film Institute, National Theatre (this partly animated play coming up in January 2012 is breathtaking), and Tate Modern (take a detour to spot the 18th-century almshouses behind in Hopton Street).

Further along, toward London Bridge, Borough Market on Fridays and Saturdays is well known for its foodie appeal (and Elliot’s Café, 12 Stoney Street, SE1 9AD, is highly recommended, using only ingredients from the market). However, to beat the crowds, and for a more “now” experience, head instead to Maltby Street, where a handful of Borough Market tenants are showing up beneath the arches.

If you want to head further afield on a foodie pilgrimage, you will be well rewarded by heading south to Brixton Village, a regeneration project that has revamped the market with lots of outstanding cafés and restaurants (try Pakistani food at Elephant or the brand new French and Grace, opened by the Salad Club bloggers, who started with a restaurant in their living room).


London is not a source of great bargains when second-hand shopping, but car boot sales at Wimbledon (on an early Saturday morning­) and Chiswick are worth perusing. For a fun excursion, and if you can take low expectations about finding a bargain, take the train from Waterloo to the bi-monthly Sunbury Market, where stallholders come from as far as France. If you have even deeper pockets, a trip to the twice-yearly Midcentury Modern fair in historic Dulwich College is always inspiring.

Suggested For You


  • That first photo is breathtaking. London is such an amazing city. Next time I’m there I must head to a few of these places.

  • I studied abroad in London too, but apparently I missed a lot of great unique spots! Definitely going to keep this guide handy for my next trip. Thanks!

  • Thank you for this! I’ve been waiting for a London guide — moved here from San Diego back in August and am constantly on the lookout for cool shops around town.

  • wow, this brings back great memories! when i studied abroad in london i spent a lot of my time wandering Marylebone High Street.

  • I have been living in London for the past 10 years, and have to say that if I ever leave I will miss the amazing selection of interiors/design shops and museums, marktes etc…I have learnt about new places here so thanks for the guide

  • Thank You!!! I live 45 minutes from London but don’t get there enough to find all these wonderful places (because of work, children, etc). Will go to each and every one of these. Bless you for putting this guide together!

  • I live in Greenwich, and that junk shop is great, but extremely cluttered! (don’t make the mistake of going in there with a 2-yr old!!) Greenwich Market is on from wednesday to sunday, with a variety of ethnic foods and booths. There is a booth that sells great juniper wood kitchen tools and cutting boards, and linen aprons, napkins, etc.

    And there is a great lamp shade shop in the market that is open most days.

    I would also add “egg” on 37 Kinnerton Street in knightsbridge— very pricey but gorgeous eye candy. apparently nicole kidman shops here when in town??

    oh, and the daylseford organic ( http://www.daylesfordorganic.com/icat/homeandgarden ) home shop on Pilmico rd (near king’s road and victoria station, sloane square, etc) is nice rustic/elegant house and garden shop, with a small baby section with nice wooden toys.

    covent garden area has a cath kidston botique, a two story Muji (like a small japanese Ikea), and a ton of other shops.

  • Thank you for publishing this! I have lived in London all my life and know most of these but there are a few here new even to me. I would also mention the railway arches behind Camden Market (near Chalk Farm station) for furniture, a little shop near Warwick Avenue (called Absolute Flowers I think – not cheap but beautiful things), charity shops in nice areas like St Johns Wood and Marylebone, Alfie’s Antiques market on Church Street which is amazing. If you happen to find yourself near Bond Street station there is also Grays Antiques which has a decent cafe in the basement and is great to get away from the general stress of Oxford Street.

    I’m going to London in July and I SO need some insider tips since I’m going on my own.
    I think I’ll be striding through the city with only a camera and some good music.


  • I miss London terribly, ever since I lived there after college. It seems to hold a special place among most people’s favorite cities. It’s pretty fabulous, after all.

  • A thoughtful and nicely edited list.

    Love that you’ve included the fabulous Ottolenghi.

    I’m a foodie at heart, so here’s my twopennyworth with a few more places to eat in London, with good food and inspirational interior design: Leila’s Shop, the cafe at the V&A, Sketch, LoungeLover for cocktails, Les Trois Garcons, Monmouth Coffee (Borough Market), Modern Pantry, Nicole Farhi 202 Cafe and Petersham Nurseries – all very different, all unique :)

  • Arrrhhh! I just returned from London a few weeks a go and would have loved this! Oh well – another time. This is a bit off the beaten path, but was one of my faves, Alfies Antique Market. http://www.alfiesantiques.com/

    I found one of the original editions of The Grammar of Ornament there! Really amazing design find.

  • oooo, what a great list! Habitat home store is also a definite must-see as well! And I looove Lisa Stickley. Her work is genius. thanks for the list! i am now going to try to talk my boyfriend into visiting London again.

  • This is so cool! I am going to London tomorrow and this is just what I needed. Thank you.

  • Oh, this is great! I’ve been waiting for a London feature on here and it couldn’t have come at a better time since I’m going there at the end of March. Thank you so much! :)

  • Heyy,

    this is amazing! I just wanted to add however that there whilst gallery/ museum shops are great for browsing & inspiration there is not a single thing in for example the V&A shop that you cannot find elsewhere in London for a much better price!

  • Thanks for this! I leave for London tomorrow for a weekend trip so this is perfect. And I like how you have all the addresses and neighborhoods so I can just print it and take with me.

  • Wow! I just stumbled on this! Thank you! My head is so in London right now..I will definitely visit some of these places this summer. Thanks for all the work you put into this.

  • wow amazing guide.. was just wondering if anyone else has more insider tips on chic but cheap clothes/tops/dresses… anyone??

  • Hi, Alfie’s Antiques Market is a good visit if you are in the area – but I’ve found it very expensive – like most of the antiques shops in London, including Portobello Road. I haven’t been to Alfie’s for a while, but I remember there was a great lighting shop the last time I went. There aren’t many bargains to be found anywhere – I always find them in the thrift stores of New York! There is a huge car boot sale near Battersea Park which is on a Sunday lunchtime – and can be fun, but I haven’t had any luck there either! My best UK finds have actually been at St George’s Market on a Friday in Belfast – quite a way to go.

  • @noella k. It really depends what you want – there are plenty of big (global or national) fashion stores you could try, which offer cheap clothes, eg Top Shop, Mango, Zara, Primark, Next, Oasis.

    You could try second-hand around Brick Lane, in Alfie’s, down Portobello Road, Rokit in Covent Garden, Spitalfields market.

    For something more boutiquey (and less cheap, invariably, but you could be lucky in the sales), try Whistles, Hoss Intropia, Coast, agnes B, All Saints, Hurwundeki, The Cross, Matches, Jigsaw…

    If all else fails, bunker down in Selfridges for an afternoon :)

  • ***The Make Lounge*** off Upper Street in Islington is a fantastic crafts centre for the busy urbanite. They host weekend workshops on how to make soap, books; how to sew skirts and bags and tons more. I took a pillowcase- making course there and it was a lot of fun. I highly recommend it!

  • As a Londoner I couldn’t agree more with your selection. Just one addition, I always recommend my tourist friends to hit Top Shop on Oxford Circus (try and avoid the weekend). It really is the best fashion store in the world and although it has got more pricey of late it still is reasonable priced.

  • Antique and vintage fans should head to Angel (northern line) on Saturdays. You’ll lose hours but find a variety of stuff from textiles, clothing, jewellry, furniture, frames, anything really. And it’s mostly priced quite reasonably.

  • This is a great list! As a London dweller for the past two years who writes a food blog I cannot help but add some edible tips for London:

    1. Head to St John’s in Farringdon or Hereford Road in Notting Hill for an experience of traditional British cooking. Offal features high on the menu so not really suitable for vegetarians but even if you are not that adventurous you will be delighted by the quality of the cooking and produce.

    2. For a lazy cafe lunch try Ottolenghis as recommended by Lynn – there is also a branch in Notting Hill just off Portobello road.

    3. For the best breakfast in London head to Providores on Marylebone High Street or try out Roast at Borough Markets or newcomer Lantana in Soho.

    4. Heading for a night out? Have a quick bite beforehand at hip tapas bar Barrafina in Soho (you can’t book) or try the latest talk of the town in London brilliant Italian restaurant Bocca di Lupo (you will need to book in advance).

    5. The place I always take visitors is the restaurant at the top of the Tate Modern (open for lunch or for dinner over the weekend). After you have browsed the gallery the food is excellent, prices reasonable (for London) and view over St Paul’s divine.

    6. For the ultimate foodie experience head to Borough Markets. Sunday is the best day. It is a really old market and very atmospheric with lots of opportunities for tastings.

  • thank you, thank you, thank you! moving to london for four months in the fall (lucky me!), and this is just the sort of guide I was hoping to have. And, I have to agree with Caroline’s addition of Top Shop…it’s fantastic.

  • i was at Ottolenghi last night for dinner, the Sunday Up Market over the weekend (great food all around) and TwentyTwentyOne is delivering my very first Saarinen piece (a table) on Friday. (Yay! So excited!)

    heh, i’ve been waiting for this guide, and as i’d hoped, it’s right up my alley… thanks for this.

  • oooooh oooooh ooohhhh….London has soooo many great places…

    don’t believe there was mention of Broadway market, just a stones throw from columbia road – amazing hog roast and cupcakes there, along with quirky vintage and homemade items every saturday…

    …Like gourmet girl I love london for its food, however I would probably suggest St Johns Bread and Wine on commercial street instead of St Johns in farringdon – St Johns is NOT for the faint hearted!

    how about the eagle pub, with its famous beef sandwiches – the first gastropub ever to open – “up and down the farringdon road, in and out the eagle…pop goes the weasel”

    Also Sunday is NOT the best day for borough market do not go on a sunday you will be massively disappointed – every thing is closed, you need to go on Friday or Saturday, all the restaurants shut down, except for Roast, which closes at 6!!! Come on gourmet girl!!!!

    If you are in the east, try The premises, a teeny tiny recording studio serving amazing cheap eats, on hackney road, next to the bingo hall, also try stringray on columbia road for the best pizzas in london!

    2 doors up from Lifestyle bazaar is beyond the valley, a lot of fresh stuff straight from st martins! really cool shop!

  • Don’t miss Marylebone Lane, just off the High Street. There’s a JJ Rouleaux ribbon store and a store that sells nothing but buttons! Also just off the High Street is Chiltern Street, which has lots of bridal shops with the most gorgeous dresses in the windows.

    For food, check out brand-new Comptoir Libanais on Wigmore Street. Delish Lebanese mezze and French pastries…yum!

  • I lived in London for 7 years, studying fashion and working in the industry there. It will always hold a piece of my heart.
    My favorite is Berwick Street in Soho with all of the fabric stores lining both sides of the street and the farmer’s market in the middle.

  • I must recommend the Curved Angel Cafe in Clerkenwell Close, EC1. I studied in London two years ago, and have been craving their scones ever since…All the food their is good, fresh, and affordable. Free wi-fi, comfy couches, funky music, and a simply lovely staff – a perfect place to pass an afternoon.

  • Hi!

    If anyone is in London at the end of March, you might want to head to the ideal home show at Earls Court.

    This guide has come just in time for or weekend trip! thanks!


  • London is one of my favorite cities not only for its shopping possibilities but because of the spirit of King Arthur, the great Wizard:Merlin, Morgane, Avalon…the stories about dwarfs and elmentals that live in the forests…I walk and eat in London feeling the invisible web of magic behind it…good job with the list. AW

  • Oh gosh, I love the Top Shop at Oxford Circus. I was sticking to my remit of ‘independent shops’ but I absolutely love it there. It is a must for any tourist – make sure you stop by the pic n mix department – I buy sweets there every single time I go. And if you have a student card, you get another 10% off. Love Becca’s suggestion of Scooterworks too – one of the coolest places I’ve ever been.

  • I cannot thank you enough as I’m flying to London tomorrow and will be there for a whole week to explore each and every one of the gems you listed in the guide :)

  • london is my happy place. where i go in my head when the present is just a bit too much. now i have a whole list of places to go in my imagination. cheers!~
    (hopefully soon i will get there again, but for reals.)

  • Thank you so much. Found this from the LE website and it’s so nice to get suggestions for places to go in London – we always end up at the same haunts.

  • I studied in London too and I miss it every single day. I would also check out borough market, it is a food market with all sorts of fun treats and eats, portobello road is my absolute favorite, oh and PS hummingbird bakery just came out with a cook book, you can get it on Amazon. Also if you want other great food on Portobello try GBK (gourmet burger kitchen) or the bratwurst guy. I also love the book market, it is on the south bank by the National Theatre under Waterloo Bridge, they sell vintage etchings and maps too!

  • just wanted to name the shop in greenwich market- it’s called lush designs, they have beautiful lampshades, tea towels, cards, etc… seriously, get ready to drool.
    oh, and the tates’ have great books, too! spitalfields market is always interesting…

  • I’ve lived in London for over 20 years and love the choice for mooching around shops large and small! i definitely second the Otto Lengi mention on Upper St, Islington – gigantic meringues adorn the window display! Upper st is a lovely way to wile away the hours – all the Gill Wing shops (esp kitchen one) are good to browse, plus Green Baby (soley organic cotton baby clothes) and the antique shops in Camden Passage near Angel tube.. Other recommendations: definitely John Lewis, Oxford street for brilliant fabrics etc – super helpful, Carnaby Street behind Liberty is great for small shops of all kinds plus the upper part of Tottenham Court Road has all the flagship stores for Habitat, Heals, Lombok, Futon Company (great cheap stylish futons & more!) and a great new find RAFT for reclaimed teak furniture… oh and more foodie places – Bar Chocolate in Soho, Carluccios for cheap but good Italian (various locations), the best Indian food – Bombay Bicycle Club (restaurant Clapham South or various takeaways) and Skylon Bar in the Festival Hall for a post shopping cocktail with great river views – good 50s vibe!

  • I’ve always loved London and I was there many times in my 20’s often by myself. In addition to the museums London is a wonderfull place to just wander around and stroll into shops and galleries. I love that London has many special “personalities”. At first I loved romantic London, with the porcelain small shops and the Victoria&Albert. Later I discovered ethnic London, and them when I finally came with my now husband he showed me modern and soccer fan London. I love all of these parts of London and hope to get back there soon.

  • does anyone know of a good florist i can buy online from to deliver in london? with flowers as pretty as saipua’s arrangements? thanks!

  • Love these city guides! Thank you.
    Can anyone out there recommend any small affordable HOTELS OR B&Bs?

  • The shaftsbury hotel up the road from Shaftsuiry theatre was one of the more inexpensive yet decnt hotels near theatre district- but I dont think it had an elevator.

  • Oooh, i so love this. I grew up in London and still wax nostalgic about the beautiful rainy days, especially now being here in dry Coorado.

  • Franco Manca in Brixton Market does the most authentic and best value pizzas in London and outside of Napoli.
    And I agree with Rose about Otto Lenghi……wonderful meringues…

  • I live in London and my favorite time of year is September when London goes crazy about design. London Open House is a weekend event where lots of buildings (many otherwise closed) open their doors to the public. It is also the time of the London Design Festival which includes 100% Design exhibition and tons of other talks, events, and showings.

  • So my wife and I are in London and go to find Labour & Wait after reading about them on your awesome blog and city guide. We get to the stop and start walking through a gauntlet of Indian restaurant and curry shops. After walking a while down Brick Lane I call the number and find out they are only open 4 days a week with really short hours. Bummer. We probably won’t make it this trip, so my advice is to plan accordingly or don’t bother. And L&W folks…wassup with the funky location and better than banker’s hours?

    PS – London is BRILLIANT. A must visit before you die.

  • I think one of the best markets in London is Old Spitalfields Market. It’s one of one of London’s finest Victorian market halls set in an historic location in the heart of the City and one of the crown jewels of the East End.

    Old Spitalfields Market is a must see attraction of London with new events happening everyday.

  • Thanks for this wonderful list! I took it with me on my last trip to London (May and June 2010) and even made myself a google map of what was where. That way, I could just pop out my map and drop into a terrific new store whenever I went to a new area. Some of my favorites were: Brissi, Two Columbia Rd, Caravan and Sigmar. Thanks again!

  • My son Will has just started as head chef at Vinoteca in Seymour Place so if you are in the Marylebone/Marble Arch area and want a good lunch or supper then head there…he is a great cook.

  • just a note to say thankyou, im a fashion student and some of the places you have listed have been very inspirational :)

  • This is awesome information! I am going this summer and I was wondering what other cities in England you guys would recommend? I want to go to local favorites not the tourist traps.. We were thinking of cotswold villages, oxford university, peak district, lake district, bath we want to go to historic places/ cute villages or towns anything you think is a must let me know!

  • Ahh! I love love love this. I’m moving to London’s West End next month and have been googling for a list like this. Finally I’ve found it. Thank you! Can’t wait to find some of my own fave spots soon!

  • Ever thought of doing an update on this design guide?
    Will be there mid-may for the Product Design + Innovation conference so looking forward to the few days after looking into some of these shops. Glad there is lots of walking to counteract the cupcakes!!

    • matthew

      yep, we’re updating ALL the guides from the past few years as quickly as we can. some are more out of date than others but we have updates in the works for them all. we depend on locals to help with these (as we’re not experts in any cities but our own) so we work at their pace. :)


  • Ever thought of doing an update on this design guide?
    Will be there mid-may for the Product Design + Innovation conference so looking forward to the few days after looking into some of these shops. Glad there is lots of walking to counteract the cupcakes!!

  • Kandyce carroll – Norwich is a lovely city, just a couple of hours from London. The countryside around Norwich is worth seeing, particularly a pretty village called Holt which has a couple of interesting vintage clothes shops.

  • Brought back wonderful memories from when I was living in London. Columbia road in East London is certainly worth checking out.

  • The ‘Selvedge’ shop in High Gate, North London is a must see for pretty little hand crafted products. There are some lovely eateries in the village as well for a quick bite.

  • Great guide, and nice that you caught the Albion Cafe, one of my faves!
    I would definitely add a couple to the list for West London, specifically Notting Hill; have breakfast at The Electric on Portobello Road, and eat what will be the most amazing cupcake of your life (guaranteed!) at Hummingbird Bakery – a visit on a Saturday will mean waiting, but it’s worth it!

  • Spellcheck: If you must go to Portobello Road on a Saturday, rise early to avoid the {hordes}.

  • I think London actually has some great secohndhand bargains! The charity shops along Kensington High Street, Gloucester Road, Kings Road, and Fulham Road are excellent for grabbing designer clothes for cheap. Also try the carboot sales in Pimlico (called Capital Carboot–you can get in for free if you follow on Twitter!) and Battersea, both on Sundays.

  • A couple additions from the summer I spent studying in London…

    The best BEST place I ate was at Tayyab’s, on the east end. Mmmm curries galore. You can get absurdly stuffed here. I’m a vegetarian and ate to my heart’s content. The mango lassi is also delicious: http://www.tayyabs.co.uk/

    Camden market is really fun. Lots of food and tonnns of vintage shops: http://camdenlock.net/

    In South Kensington there’s a cupcake shop called Buttercup. Try peanut butter + chocolate cupcakes… I still remember the taste of this cupcake and it’s been a while: http://www.buttercupcakeshop.co.uk/

  • How exciting! I’m visiting family in England this week and heading into London Friday! Couldn’t be better timing- thanks so much!

  • This makes me miss London so much! I have to make one addition, V.V. Rouleaux, oh Marylebone Lane. I went to school for awhile right around the corner, and was always late for class if I stopped in to have a look. So many beautiful trims, notions, etc. I used to always go for inspiration. Hopefully it’s as wonderful as I remember, the website doesn’t really do it justice.

  • Don’t just stop at Islington keep going north and you will reach Crouchend a vibrant villagey area with lots of small shops, independent eateries, and a good smattering of charity shops too. Get the 144 bus up to Muswell Hill with lots more shops and cafes. You could then head to East Finchley a short bus ride away and visit the Phoenix Cinema a beautiful restored art deco cinema showing a fantastic selection of films main stream and art house. You could head up to Highgate and check out the famous Highgate cemetery and afterwards the flask pub. A walk on Hampstead Heath and the beautiful stately home kenwood House would be good the cakes in the cafe are fantastic too. Heading through to Hampstead you could visit the spaniards pub, an old coaching inn one of the oldest in london again with lovely food. A walk down Hampstead high street for the shops and cafes with the best chinese restaurant in London, Goldfish, the Hampstead theatre and Keats house are also worth a look.

  • In East London, there is an amazing B&B called 40 Winks. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a truly unique experience. It’s the home of a very talented and friendly interior designer – the images speak for themselves. It really is that beautiful! http://www.40winks.org/

  • Having spent a stint living and working on the Portobello Road, I have to put in a plug for an amazing Portuguese patisserie on the Goldborne Rd – Lisboa. Definitely stop in!

  • I guess there wasn’t room for everything but Brixton Village has really come into its own in the past year or so and has some wonderful, diverse and cheap places to eat including wraps at Salad Club’s French & Grace, the Honest Burger, the Elephant (a Pakistani cafe), a Thai place whose name escapes me and that’s not bad at all… and nearby FrancoManca. Happy eating…

  • Thanks for the additional suggestions! I agree, the villagey areas of London are further away and a little off the tourist track, but great, too – like Crouch End, Stoke Newington, Highgate. Lorna, that B&B sounds great!

  • Some really amazing places listed on here. I cannot wait to get started. Its funny how you can live in a city for years and discover something new everyday. I love that about London.

    For more options on where to stay try our london serviced apartments. We also feature the fabulous Town Hall Hotel Apartments in our portfolio.

  • i visited friends in london last january. loved the columbia road market and also an old time candy store on columbia road–suck and chew. i took the thames river boat between the tate museums–fun. also fav museum was the sir john soane museum–amazing.
    also the fact that the museums were free.

  • Shop: Books and Ribbons do some amazing gifts, centred around books, and, err… ribbons – http://www.booksandribbons.co.uk
    Do: The Darwin Centre at the Natural History Museum is fascinating (and a bit spooky/gory)- it includes a tour through the specimen rooms. When I visited, they were working on the world’s only specimen of a giant squid.

  • Just a wee correction to the earlier comment by Shan: Te Papa Museum in Wellington, New Zealand has housed a giant squid for a couple of years now :)

  • just wanted to name the shop in greenwich market- it’s called lush designs, they have beautiful lampshades, tea towels, cards, etc… seriously, get ready to drool.