5 Secrets to London Shopping
London is rarely the first city that
comes to mind when planning for a budget-friendly holiday.
But if you know where to look—and where to shop— you can beat the crowds
and make the posh capital your own.
While most tourists flock to Harrods, savvy shoppers should set their sights on Liberty London instead. Its mock-Tudor façade was all the rage in the late 19th century, when founder Arthur Liberty began selling objets d’art thanks to a loan from his soon-to-be father in law. Between the decadent candies and sumptuous upholstery fabrics (some of which have been used by the Queen herself), you’ll think you’ve wandered onto the set of Downton Abbey.
If your design tastes are more eclectic, head to Camden Market in the northwestern part of the city. Yes, it’s crowded and a bit grungy, but it’s also the only place in London where you can find eco-friendly bamboo pajamas, studded leather jackets and handmade garments from the Middle East all in the same place. When you need a break from the crowds, slip into Proud Camden, an old horse hospital turned, night club, bar and art gallery. Order yourself a drink or a hot chocolate. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a live performance.
No trip to London would be complete without a traditional afternoon tea. You can pay through the nose at Harrods or you can head to the National Gallery instead. Few tourists know that the renowned museum also offers splendid view of Trafalgar Square from its dining room. Enjoy a selection of Coronation chicken sandwiches, scones, and Devonshire clotted cream, or add a glass of bubbly for a few extra pounds while you take in the sights.
To shop like a local, make your way to Oxford Street. There you’ll find popular brands like Topshop, Monsoon and Uniqlo amid all the hustle and bustle you’d expect of Britain’s capital. Unless you want to spend all day waiting for a fitting room, however, avoid Oxford Street on the weekend (and especially the low-priced retailer Primark) at all costs.
For a true bargain, head to one of the city’s many secondhand shops. Plan strategically and aim for an especially posh neighborhood such as Knightsbridge, where you’ll find cast-offs from the well to do. And remember: your purchases will go to support one of Britain’s many non-profit organizations, so you can shop to your heart’s content almost entirely guilt free.