Christmas shopping in the capital doesn’t have to mean investing in a straitjacket and personal whisky stocks. London has hundreds of calm, even enjoyable places far from the crowds where you can browse and bargain at your ease.
There’s not much that will leave you feeling less Christmassy than trying to go shopping for it down the main thoroughfares of central London in the weeks preceding the festive season. It doesn’t have to be all sharp elbows and blown gaskets though - we’ve compiled a little list of some of the least stressful places to spend you pennies and save your sanity.
Davenport’s Magic Shop
/ 7 Charing Cross Underground Arcade, WC2N 4HZ
Guinness World Record holders of the title of “longest continuously owned magic shop in the world”, this magician’s mini emporium has been in the same family ever since it was founded in 1898. All levels of tricksters are catered for here, and if you ask them the expert staff will happily give you a demonstration. They also hold regular workshops for adults and kids alike in their dedicated “magic studio” - hold on to your watches…
Luna & Curious at The Sanderson
/ 24-26 Calvert Avenue, E2 7JP
Tucked into the fabulous hotel The Sanderson, Luna & Curious is a sort of microcosm of the Shoreditch favourite, featuring its best sellers and most inventive creations by a selection of new British designers. With imaginative homeware, jewellery, art and accessories, you might just find the perfect gift for that person who always seems to be lacking novelty tights or bendy cutlery.
Mama Brown’s Pop-Up Experience
/ 26th November - 15th December
at 232 King's Road, SW3 5UD
Mama Brown's Pop-up Experience, the largest ever in London, is back for Christmas on the King’s Road from November 25th to December 10th. Comprising shops, a bar, cafes and offering art, fashion, jewellery and design, you could feasibly spend your entire Christmas shopping budget and time allowance in here. Curated by Suzi ‘Mama’ Brown, referred to as “London’s ultimate hostess” and herself a chef, art historian and former fashion retailer. There will also be a beauty salon to get you from purchase to party, so even if you’re finished with your shopping (liar) there’s no excuse to miss out on the experience.
/ 151 Queensway, W2 4YN
For vintage gems, have a rummage through London’s favourite fashion-mine, Victory Vintage. Men and women on the street, stylists, celebs and designers all come to invest time and money in the rails curated by sisters Zoë and Rebecca Plummer. Their mission was to redefine vintage fashion on the high street, stocking a beautiful range of clothes, shoes and accessories from 20s elegance to the 70s exuberance. Serious quality at honest prices and one-of-kindness that you can't put a price on.
The Shop at Bluebird
/ 350 King's Road, SW3 5UU
The Shop is enormous - 10,00 square feet of enormous to be precise - and houses constantly changing collections from leading designers. In addition to the clothes and unique accessories, you can find beautiful vintage design furniture, a great range of books, a spa centre and an array of aromatherapy lotions and potions. Previously the Bluebird Food Market, it’s an enjoyable and unique shopping experience and a must-see for retail design obsessives and the simply curious alike.
Dover Street Market
/ 17-18 Dover Street, W1S 4LT
Rei Kawakubo from Comme des Garçons has created this landmark, six-storey space as a combination of gritty London markets and elegant upmarket labels. All the CDG collections are here, alongside exclusive lines such as Lanvin, Givenchy and Azzedine Alaïa. There are jewellery designers on the ground floor and a Rose Bakery on the top one, essentially making it a designer department store that is in a constant state of evolution and renewal.
/ 35 King Street, WC2E 8JG
The London arm of the original New York-based Opening Ceremony shop was first launched as a pop-up in 2012 before the Olympics, fittingly for its name. Stocking labels from all over the world, they specialise in small and unique collections, mostly co-designed with big-hitting names, nabbed from emerging artists or chosen from cult labels. Opening Ceremony has its own in-house creations as well, and its many collaborations with classic brands like Keds, Gitman Brothers and Pendleton.
Columbia Road Winter Shopping Market
/ Columbia Road, E2
Open late on Wednesdays in the run-up to Christmas, the independent local shops in the area surrounding Columbia Road Market offer a cobbled, charming, crowd-free alternative to the seasonal shopping madness of the West End. In what was once a Victorian shopping arcade, you can now browse for artwork, crafts, vintage clothes and delicious deli offerings, amongst many quirky others. Reward yourself with a glass of mulled wine afterwards for having the sense of adventure to get out of the centre on a Wednesday evening in December.
After all this exertion on your feet and credit cards, come and unwind at the centre of the action at Amba Hotel Charing Cross