When you’re planning your visit to London, you’ll want to make sure that you come back with some experiences or souvenirs that you can *only* part money for and purchase in London – otherwise, what’s the point in going?
Yes, apart from the obvious London attractions – we’re talking what’s on everybody’s itinerary here; the likes of the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, The Shard, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London – there are some other places we recommend visiting if you want a souvenir that is truly unique to the UK capital. So, where ought you to go on your London shopping experience and for what prized one-off, Big Smoke-centric, nay eccentric, purchase…?
A Brolly from London’s Brolly-Only Shop
A short walk from Tottenham Court Road and Holborn tube stations, there is a shop that sells only umbrellas and walking sticks. James Smith and Sons first opened in 1830 and the original Victorian shop front remains largely untouched. Everyone knows British weather can be, well, decidedly changeable, so it’s hardly surprising there’s a shop dedicated to umbrellas alone, but did you know that, to this day, its umbrellas are actually made in its very own workshop below ground level? Yes, really; it’s true. This shop is simply a London institution and, don’t doubt it, hands-down it’s the best place to purchase an umbrella (or, admittedly, a walking stick too) in all London Town.
The Finest Tea Blends at Fortnum & Mason
True; there are a few places across the globe that stock Fortnum & Mason’s tea, but nothing comes close to visiting their London store. Situated on Piccadilly, a stone’s throw from Piccadilly Circus, the shop has a wonderful clock that chimes every 15 minutes and again on the hour with an intricate display – the interior is just as impressive. Taking afternoon tea in Fortnum & Mason is one of the ‘must-do’ things in the city, but if you don’t have the time, pick up a selection of their teas from the department store to take home with you.
A Houses of Commons-Embossed Notebook
The Houses of Parliament shop sells lots of things branded with the stamp of the UK government, and although they do have an online shop, this blogger verily believes it adds a certain element of authenticity if you actually visit the shop itself, where you can buy branded packs of playing cards and even a hip flask! The shop is opposite Big Ben, just around the corner from Westminster Tube station (thus, within very easy reach of any of The Shaftesbury Hotel collection properties).
Fabulous Fabric from Liberty
Liberty Department Store is globally renowned for its high-quality and hugely appealing, rather bohemian, art deco furnishings. Dating all the way back 1875, it’s famed for its fashion, interiors and luxury goods, and above all, its in-house range of delicious fabrics and textiles that are truly to die for. With a wide array of classic designs, as well as new ranges each season that are known the world over, these Liberty-only fashion-forward patterns with their audaciously excellent standard of quality are the jewels in the crown of fabrics.
A Bespoke Suit from A Savile Row Tailor
Finally – and frankly – what else could it be? Savile Row’s the West End street known in every corner of the globe for its outlets dedicated to old-fashioned bespoke tailoring with extremely reliable service. So, if you need a smart suit for a special occasion like a wedding, or are looking for a suit with an edge (and half a few bob to spend), then head to Savile Row. Its boutiquey-like establishments (all of them located not far at all from many a Shaftesbury Metropolis London Hyde Park, as it goes) have carved out impeccable reputations for themselves over the many, many decades of their existence, specifically for creating suits that are hugely style-conscious but also of first-rate quality. A new suit measured up for and bought from here isn’t just for your trip; it’s a souvenir for life.