London Shopping Guide
Camden has six busy open-air and indoor markets, each with its own distinctive flavour. Camden Stables Market is popular for its alternative fashion scene of vintage and retro clothing. Camden Lock, originally a craft market, has a wider assortment of goods on sale from arts and crafts, jewellery, and second hand clothing. Camden Canal and Camden Buck Street Market offer clothing, footwear, jewellery and accessories while Inverness Street Market houses souvenir and gift stalls, bars and restaurants. Camden ‘s Main Streets offer clothing, footwear, specialty shops, pubs, restaurants and music venues swinging until late at night.
Portobello Road Market
The Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill is a world famous market with over 2,000 stalls selling antiques, jewellery, paintings, coins, and bric-a-bracs. There are fruit and vegetable stalls, as well as delicatessen shops and restaurants. Best known for its best selection of antiques in Britain , visitors from all over the world can choose from an extraordinary variety of goods ranging in price from a few pounds to several thousands.
Petticoat and Brick Lane
Petticoat Lane is the oldest and probably the most famous of all London ‘s street markets. It has a long history as a centre of the clothing trade and today sells cut-price clothing, fabrics and leather ware. A whole area is devoted to leather coats and jackets. Brick Lane and Spitalfields Market are both near Liverpool Street . Brick Lane is home to bric-a-bracs, with countless stallholders and individuals selling anything and everything while Spitalfields holds over 250 stalls offering mainly quality clothes.
Accommodation at Ashlee House provides easy access to these London markets. Visit on a weekday or on a sunny weekend walking or take the underground tube. The diversity of alternative shops and restaurants, pubs and bars that the markets offer reflects the lively and vibrant energy from the different subcultures of London.
This will cater to the more a alternative amongst us. A vibrant market which not only boosts fashion, crafts, tattoos and jewellery as well as a wide selection of food and booze. It also offers the more discerning tourist a number of waterfront bars.
Because of its wide variety of shops and stalls, Camden may be rightfully called as the shopping Mecca of London. Its diverse array of products and services have made it a major tourist attraction, especially during the summer.
The Camden Markets began in 1974 as a commercial area that carried various forms of arts and crafts. Initially, it focused on the youth as its target market, but soon caught on to a much broader range of customers, largely due to the quality and variety of its goods. With its popularity, the Camden Markets expanded to include the following neighbouring markets:
1. Camden Lock Market
2. Stables Market
3. Camden Canal Market
4. Buck Street Market
5. Electric Ballroom
6. Inverness Street
Camden Lock Market started as a venue for selling crafts. While it still is the premiere venue for such products, it has also evolved into a market for selling books, second-hand clothing and jewelry. And unlike before when it only occupied outdoor stalls, a three-storey indoor market hall now stands in the area, designed by an architect named John Dickinson and built in 1991.
The Stables Market accounts as the largest portion of The Camden Markets. While it is mainly know for selling clothes and accessories, there are also stalls which offer furniture, household items and decorative goods. The stores in Stables Market address various tastes, may it be ethnically inclined or downright gothic.
Likewise, there are two other markets in the Camden area that are known for its wide variety of clothing. These are the Camden Canal Market and the Buck Street Market. Because of their almost cult following (especially by Goth-aficionados), the two markets have become permanent fixtures and are open seven days a week.
Music enthusiasts can get their fix from the Electric Ballroom. While this 60+ year old market has been known to be the perennial hangout of rock bands, it has since opened its doors to other musical genres. During the weekends, around fifty or so stalls are set up to sell a mixture of fashion, lifestyle and musical items. There have been proposals to demolish the Electric Ballroom in 2004 and 2005 but these were rejected by the Camden Borough Council and Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott respectively.
Inverness Street , on the other hand, is the traditional street market that can be considered as the inspiration for the development of The Camden Markets.
Harrod’s Department Store
A wide variety of clothes, apparels, and other related consumer goods can be found in the Harrod’s department store. Harrod’s has a wide array of products made of the finest quality. There are toys for the kids, designer bags and premium beauty products for the wife, gadgets and the most exquisite ties for the boss or husband. Indeed, busy tourists who only have a few hours to attend to everyone on their shopping list will appreciate how they can find everything they need under Harrod’s roof.
And of course, it helps that Harrod’s is one of the favorite shopping centres of the Royals—not that you’ll find the Queen of England browsing through the bargain racks, but it is an endorsement of the highest order that the store has met their highest standards.
It is one of the biggest and best toy stores you will ever see, and the only difficult thing about shopping here is curbing temptation to buy everything in sight. Aside from popular toy brands, Hamley’s also houses local brands that can only be found in London.
There are toys for every age group—infants, toddlers, preschoolers, tweens, and gadgets and other fun activities for teens. Hamley’s friendly staff is also on hand to help you pick the best toy for a beloved child. The store also has gift wrapping facilities, perfect for parents who want to add that element of surprise and excitement and live for the look of surprised joy on their child’s face.
Second Hand Shops
If you fancy taking a break from sightseeing and want to do a bit of shopping on a budget, have a look at our guide to second hand shops in London to help you pick up a bargain!
Many who are looking for interesting finds scour London ‘s second-hand shops. There are thousands of shops scattered around the city’s busy shopping districts holding tat or treasures depending on the buyer’s interest.
Clothes and Jewellery
London style attracts a lot of attention and the local market is a good place for over-the-top and uber-glamorous fashion finds. Covent Garden , Portobello Road and Camden Passage are must-stops for accessories, jewelry and clothing. Charity shops and dress agencies, the British equivalent of American vintage and consignment stores, also hold the biggest selections of vintage finds. Tucked within the facades of King’s Road West is an array of London’s most celebrated vintage shops, frequented as much by socialites as students.
Spitalfields Market holds a records and books market from 10AM-4PM on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays. Its gorgeous vaulted roof houses cool shops selling movie posters, second-hand books and modish vintage furniture. Oxfam’s Oxford bookshops are the largest retailer of second hand books in Europe with many of its books donated by the public. Oxfam sells over 11 million books per year, so whether you are looking for a good holiday read or a selection of rare and collectible books, chances are, you will find them in many of Oxfam’s collections.
Second hand buyers should check out the ubiquitous Music and Video Exchange which has branches in Soho, Camden and Notting Hill. The range of selection is exhaustive, with many hard-to-find and cheap titles. Camden High Street and Warwick Street also offer the best bargain CDs while other music shops sell vinyl.
Computers, Cameras and Other Gadgets
Tottenham Court Road has consumer electronics shops where retro-gamers can find second-hand Intellivision, Atari consoles, Pac-Man or Donkey Kong games along with Toshiba and Sony laptops. Several shops along this road also offer second user monitors, computer systems, printers and camera shops offer modern second hand cameras, 35mm SLRs, medium and large format cameras, lenses, flash units, and darkroom equipment.