With its rich – and, frankly, legendary – retail reputation, London truly can deliver whatever shopping experience any visitor may be after. Big high-street names? Check. Global brand outlets? Check. Luxury department stores? Check. Cutting-edge fashion boutiques? Check. Old-fashioned, sprawling urban markets? Check.
Indeed, the latter offerings – the progenitors of the capital’s modern shop-till-you-drop culture – are, pleasingly and reassuringly, still going as strong as ever. So, while today you have all your Harvey Nicks, Harrods, John Lewises and Selfridges, you also have great, diverse and bargain-sating markets such as this iconic triumvirate…
Camden Lock Market
(Chalk Farm Road NW1 8AF)
For an eclectic, electric, alternative vibe, you can’t beat Camden Lock Market. The Camden scene remains a rite of passage for many teenagers and young people newly moved to the capital, what with its roster of pubs, bars and clubs and, yes, a host of different markets (Camden Lock being just one of five in the area). And, speaking of the latter, it’s just launched a new deli with London Artisans’ Markets for Wednesdays. So, don’t doubt it, lunches might never be the same for locals and visitors thanks to the market vending artisan cheeses, home-made organic drinks, specialist breads and other delightful delicacies (all of which, surely, would argue a lunch you might order at Barbican restaurants London).
That said; although all its globally-influenced street food offerings have ballooned in recent years; the market’s big draw really remains all its arts and crafts stalls. Here then, you’ll chance upon everything from bespoke jewellery made to opportunity to create your very own dream soap combination. Plus, you’ll likely see some fabulous book and record shops too, ideal for idling away the hours in search of that souvenir tome or hipster-ish ’45.
Portobello Road Market
(Portobello Road W10 5TA)
At Portobello Road you’ll find, nowadays, the most renowned and vibrant of London’s antiques markets. Lashings of traders converge on this street to sell everything from silverware to fine art and from ceramics to general collectables. Sure; it may take you some time to work your way through all the stalls, shops and the antique arcades, but whiling away the day here is what it’s all about, so be sure to pack your best comfy shoes for your London trip (whether you’re based at Barbican accommodation or anywhere else) – and wear them on this day of all days of your stay! Visit the market’s website for a handy map to help you navigate your way round so you don’t miss any of its, well, unmissable wares.
Petticoat Lane Market
(Middlesex Road E1 7JF)
Once upon a time the first-name in fashion-oriented markets in the capital – unsurprising, given its East End area was, way back when an historic hub of the textiles industry thanks to its ‘founding’ by religious refugees from France, the Huguenots, in the 18th Century – the oh-so famous Petticoat Lane Market may not be revered to quite the degree others in the city today are, but it’s still a fine place to head to for fabulous fabrics and some clothing bargains. The main market takes place on Sundays (and isn’t at all far away from any hotels near the Barbican Centre), but don’t forget the surrounding streets – which tend to become filled with stalls selling house-hold goods and clothes every single weekday.