Shopping

There are many different areas to shop in within London. Note that many stores are not open on Sunday's and many are not open past 6:30 pm (except for the Leicester Square/Piccadilly Circus area where most is open well into the night).

Markets/Areas

  • Borough Market (TUBE Southwark) - Great place for fresh and organic food. Limited hours.
  • Camden Market (TUBE Camden Town) - The lock is the central market but there are smaller markets all around the Camden Town area. The market is open 7 days a week (in the summer, weekends only in the winter) from around about 10 am to 6 pm. On the weekend it is VERY busy (especially in the summer – be aware of pick- pockets). The market sells just about everything though concentrates on antiques and clothing (though an honourable mention also goes to the number and variety of food stalls). Idyllic setting beside the river which dramatically contrasts with the relative free-for-all atmosphere of the market. Even if you do not buy anything the atmosphere is quite something and there is ALWAYS something to look at as the market is VERY large. Note: The Camden Town tube station is used for EXIT ONLY on Sundays so if you arrive on Sunday and want to leave before about 5:30 pm, you will have to get a bus or walk to the next tube station).
  • Covent Garden (TUBE Covent Garden) - Great place to wander around, there always seems to be a market or something on. A strange combination of shops (including restaurants) and market.
  • Oxford Street (TUBE Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road) - This street contains a number of clothing shops (both expensive and cheap) in addition to cheap souvenir shops. If anything go to watch the people milling up and down the street.

Oxford Street at Christmas

  • Regent Street (TUBE Piccadilly Circus) - If you have lots of money, of course. Very nice clothing. The famous Hamleys toy shop is located on Regent Street just south of Oxford Circus.

Regent Street at Christmas

Shopping Centres

As with any other city in the world, there are several very large shopping centres in London. These are largely located on the outskirts of the city.

  • Bluewater - One of the first big shopping centres in London Bluewater is located just outside of the M25 on the south side of the Dartford Crossing. Lots of parking and an old-style shopping centre experience.
  • Westfield London (TUBE Shepherd's Bush NRLOGO Shepherd's Bush) - Relatively new shopping centre and my personal favourite (as far as shopping centres are concerned). A good selection of restaurants both inside and around the outside. Contains a variety of stores including some high street stores such as WH Smith's, Boots and Marks & Spencers but also contains the normal shopping centre mid-level and high-level stores. A modern Vue cinema is also on the top floor.
  • Westfield Stratford City (TUBE Stratford) - Built just in time for the London Olympics in 2012, this is a very busy mall and a bit boring in shape (a long sausage shape). Currently biggest shopping centre in London.

Stores

Of course, there are a few iconic London shops I would suggest are worth a visit (if only to perhaps look around):

  • Fortnum and Mason (TUBE Piccadilly Circus, Green Park) - Great selection of teas and preserved fruits (jams and jellies).

Fortnum and Mason

  • Hamleys (TUBE Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus) - One of the best toy stores in the world. Lots of variety and lots of floors…Can be a bit pricey.
  • Harrods (TUBE Knightsbridge) - Worth a visit are the food halls.
  • Selfridge's & Co (TUBE Marble Arch, Bond Street) - An interesting assortment of smaller departments and stores within a larger whole. Absolutely enormous with a smaller sized food hall but also restaurants.
  • Stanford's (TUBE Leicester Square, Covent Garden) - Travel specialists with a large selection of maps, books and other travel paraphernalia.

Booksellers

Well, as a big fan of books and reading, I thought I would mention a few places and stores to visit:

  • Book & Comic Exchange (Used; TUBE Notting Hill) - I really like this place. Seems tiny but it is just crammed to the ceiling full of books and worth a browse. Yes, there are comics here but if you are interested in books it is worth a visit. For fans of Science Fiction, don't miss the narrow room at the top the basement stairs, barely enough space to stand. For fans of REALLY cheap books, go to the rather dodgy basement.
  • Charing Cross Road (TUBE Leicester Square or Tottenham Court Road) - A few small, second hand stores in addition to the newer chains.
  • Forbidden Planet (Science Fiction ONLY; TUBE Tottenham Court Road) New Oxford Street - Great source of Science Fiction merchandise (they have a few stores in Britain) but check out the basement for books. You can often find 'hard to find' books and material here.
  • Foyle's (TUBE Leicester Square, Tottenham Court Road) - Just had a recent makeover but a wonderful bookstore to explore for new books over several floors. A large selection.
  • Goldsboro Books (Signed First Editions; TUBE Leicester Square) Just off Charing Cross Road in Cecil Court. I have started being a customer recently - First class service and quality…not always expensive either.

Goldsboro Books

  • Hatchard's (TUBE Piccadilly Circus) - 200 year-old bookseller with a wonderful store just off of Piccadilly Circus. Selling a fantastic selection of new books they often also have signed copies for sale.
  • Oxford Street (TUBE Oxford Circus or Tottenham Court Road) - All the big chain stores are here (Waterstones and WH Smith) and many are open later than other areas of London. If you want a bargain on the latest books, try here.

Computers (etc)

As I am a computer consultant, I do know a few places in London that tend to have good prices but these are NOTHING compared to the prices from (any) other countries:

  • Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street (TUBE Tottenham Court Road) - Around this area are a number of computer and electronic stores that tend to have the best prices in town. Note that many stores are closed on Sundays. Every Saturday there is a computer fair on Tottenham Court Road near TUBE Warren Street which is quite good and offers free admission, for more information, please see College Computer Fair.

There are also the ubiquitous Dixons and other big-name chains scattered throughout London.

Note: TUBE Indicates closest London Underground station, see Transport for London for further information.