Lamb’s Conduit Street, Bloomsbury
A partially pedestrianised street in bookish Bloomsbury, this is as civilised as shopping gets in the capital: it’s not unusual for shop owners to dispense a free glass of wine to customers. First stop has to be Darkroom (52 Lamb’s Conduit Street, WC1, 020-7831 7244, darkroomlondon.com), a geometric palace full of exquisite modern craft: handmade accessories for men, women and home, lovingly curated. Next door, at the start of Rugby Street, Ben Pentreath (17 Rugby Street, 020-7430 2526, benpentreath.com) is a titchy interiors shop full of ceramics, fabrics and nostalgic knick-knacks. There’s also Folk (49 and 53, 020-7404 6458, folkclothing.com) for lovers of laidback luxurious threads, and Persephone Books (59 Lamb’s Conduit Street, WC1, 020-7242 9292, persephonebooks.co.uk), a unique publishing house that champions forgotten female authors. When you’re done, aim for Ciao Bella (86-90, 020-7242 4119, ciaobellarestaurant.co.uk), a favourite local Italian.
This narrow passage of boutiques will keep hoarders of vintage happy for hours. Permanent fixtures include Annie’s (12 Camden Passage, N1, 020-7359 0796, anniesvintageclothing.co.uk) for high-end costumes and textiles. Fat Faced Cat (22-24, 020-7354 0777, fatfacedcat.com) is more affordable. You’ll find 80s power suits and 50s tea dresses in equal measure. Each Wednesday and Saturday the Pierrepont Arcade and a small covered antiques market appears opposite the Camden Head pub. Rummagers will find art nouveau trinkets, silver, objets d’art and fine porcelain. You’ll find locals brunching in the Breakfast Club (31, 020-7226 5454, thebreakfastclubcafes.com), or the Swedish-inspired cocktail/brunch stop, The Elk in the Woods (37-39 Camden Passage, N1, 020-7226 3535, the-elk-in-the-woods.co.uk).
In the railway arches in an unprepossessing area of Bermondsey, an enterprising collective of traders open their doors to London’s discerning foodies for a few precious hours each week (Saturday 9am-2pm, SE16, maltbystreet.com). Look out for the likes of Nigel Slater filling their shopping trolleys here … Start at 60 Druid Street for fruit and veg of unparalleled variety. From there, cross Tanner Street and head down Ropewalk and into LASSCO (Millstream Road, SE1, 020-7394 8061, lassco.co.uk), an architectural salvage shop. On then to a rowdy archway selling mid-morning cocktails based on gin locally distilled. Iberico ham, artisan cheeses and olive oil, filled croissants and custard tarts can all be purchased (and devoured) en route to Dockley Road. Wander into the industrial estate here and look out for The London Honey Company (Unit 6 Dockley Road, SE16, 020-7394 7072, thelondonhoneycompany.co.uk), The Little Bread Pedlar (Unit 5 Dockley Road, SE16, lbpedlar.com) and La Grotta Ices for phenomenal handmade ice-cream (lagrottaices.tumblr.com). Last stop: The Kernel Brewery (Arch 11 Dockley Road, SE16, 020-7231 4516, thekernelbrewery.com), a micro-brewery packed with beautiful people drinking bottles of stout and ale.
High-end brand names are juxtaposed with galleries, bars and bistros, and the occasional cash-and-carry, on this East End thoroughfare. Shoppers should head to Labour and Wait for timeless quality household goods (85 Redchurch Street, E2, 020-7729 6253, labourandwait.co.uk), and Maison Trois Garcons for opulent vintage homewares (45, 07879 640858, lestroisgarcons.com). Stop at Aesop (5A, 020-7613 379, aesop.com) for luxurious botanical skin, hair and body care. Parisian label, APC (5, 020-7729 7727, apc.fr) stocks simple and sexy separates. If you’re shoe shopping, Canadian designer Tracey Neuls (020-7018 0872, tn29.com) has recently rolled back the graffitied shutters at number 73. Come here for neon brogues, handpainted ankle boots and playful heels. If you’re not already laden, the “world’s first pop-up mall”, Boxpark (2-4 Bethnal Green Road, 020-7033 2899, boxpark.co.uk), is just over the road. For loafing, there’s private-members’ club Shoreditch House, eccentric cocktail bar, Lounge Lover and the Boundary “restaurant, rooms and rooftop”. And – if you believe the rumours – an East End outpost of Nobu will be opening its doors shortly. Pie and mash it ain’t.
Beneath Trellick Tower you’ll find London’s “little Morocco”, a rough-and-ready street in west London that has happily resisted gentrification for decades. It’s often overlooked by shoppers in nearby Portobello Road who miss out on a multicultural mix of chi-chi boutiques and bric-a-brac. The fun begins at Rellik (8 Golborne Road, W10, 020-8962 0089, relliklondon.co.uk), where you can rummage for designer vintage threads: Vivienne Westwood, Alaia, Comme des Garcons and Christian Dior. From here, stroll over the railway bridge and join the queue at Lisboa, a Portuguese patisserie at number 57 (020-8968 5242). Retro and antique furniture shops abound. Visit Phoenix (67, 020-8964 8123, phoenixongolborne.co.uk) for vintage homewares or 88 Antiques (88, 020-8960 0827) for upcycled and 19th-century furniture. For reasonably priced Moroccan imports, try Fez (71 Golborne Road, W10, 020-8964 5573). Come on a Saturday when shop owners display their stock on the pavement and street food vendors fire up their barbecues.