For visitors to London, the retail options truly are endless. Not only are there the high-street flagship stores of the West End’s Oxford Street and Regent Street, the stylish, exclusive boutiques of Mayfair’s Bond Street and Carnaby Street and the trendy, 21st-Century shopping experience offered by White City and Stratford’s Whitefield malls and Shoreditch’s Boxpark, but also all the city’s traditional, much loved and historically resonant markets; so many offer up stalls and stalls of affordable fashion, fresh food, flowers, trinkets and souvenirs and so very much more.
So, should you decide to visit the UK capital in the coming weeks or months – perhaps for a comfortable and centrally-located stay at the likes of The Montcalm London City at The Brewery Hotel – you might conclude that to enjoy the full ‘London experience’, you may well want to pay a visit to one or more of these iconic markets, so which should you choose…?
(Southwark Street SE1 1TJ)
Lying between Borough High Street, Bedale Street, Stoney Street and Winchester Walk and just a few steps away from the legendary London Bridge, the market that’s affectionately referred to by some as ‘London’s Larder’ is a foodie’s delight – and then some. Not only is it the city’s oldest food market, with its old-school, Dickensian-era wrought-iron roof, it’s also a modern-day haven for all manner of fresh food and global culinary creations. Here then you’ll come across all manner of Italian cheeses, Morecambe Bay shrimps, Spanish foods and a great deal more besides. Always lively and atmospheric and attracting visitors from every corner of the globe, it’s a must-attend place for many on Saturday mornings (although, a word of warning; that’s a very busy time to pay a visit!). It’s fair to say too that far from all its wares are of the bargain variety – but, should you do a decent bit of browsing before you purchase, you’re bound to come away with some very affordable, tasty morsels.
Boasting stalls that predominately stock treasures in the shapes of antiques and flea market finds, this market that’s a jewel in West London’s crown is a big deal every Saturday; that said, it is actually all-week event – although the variety of wares on sale the rest of the week are more limited. The more-than-2,000 stalls then (when the thing’s fully open on Saturdays) run from Chepstow Villas to just under the Westway, a brazenly bold stretch of street that’s brimming with trendy urban style, colour and fun – and they vend items ranging from books to bric-a-brac, lace to Limoges and second-hand but essential fashion to exotic cooking utensils. There are bargains aplenty, no question, but owing to the size of this market, you’ll find you’ll have to take some time to go through all it offers – but, frankly, why wouldn’t you want to?
Columbia Road Flower Market
(Columbia Road E2 7RG)
Another iconic market to be enjoyed come the weekend, East London’s Columbia Road comes alive on Saturday, bursting with a cornucopia of colour and scented pollen thanks to this old-school mainstay of the East End neighbourhood. The patchwork of stalls that make up the market is lined by chic boutiques, though, giving the whole an undeniable modern-day, sophisticated vibe. All the same, this effort definitely remains the capital’s most sweet-smelling and, maybe, most delightful-looking of markets, yet it’s far from just flowers. For also on sale each week you’ll find all manner of horticultural items – everything from topiary trees to pot plants to hanging baskets and from bulbs to bouquets. And, in addition to the boutiques on the outside of the market, are arranged a coterie of attractive cafés, pubs and sea-food stalls that are ideal for a bite to eat, of course. All in all then, you might well conclude it’s blooming marvellous!