Plan Your Visit

6 of the best independent shopping experiences

Cement your reputation among friends and family as THE best gift giver – or simply treat yourself to something special (go on, you deserve it). 

Shopping in the City of London is all about finding artisanal, specialist, vintage and one-of-a-kind goodies. Warm up those arm muscles – you’ve got a fair few shopping bags to carry…

The Royal Exchange

Do you want luxury? This incredible building gives you luxury, in spades. Arguably Britain’s first shopping mall, it was originally opened by Queen Elizabeth I in 1571 and has since burnt down, been rebuilt, burnt down again, and rebuilt as the Victorian building that stands today.

Premium brand seekers are spoilt for choice among the art, fashion, jewellery, beauty, food and drink boutiques of the Exchange. Visitors lusting after a slice of English luxury can head straight to Fortnum & Mason for their quintessential teas, sweet treats and hampers (City workers take note: they deliver straight to your desk in the Square Mile within 90 minutes – perfect for your emergency afternoon tea needs).

(Note: Check opening times and days on The Royal Exchange website)

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Best Independent Shopping Experiences - The Royal Exchange - people walking through the entrance

The Royal Exchange

Spitalfields Market

Bordering the Square Mile is this uber-cool market, one of London’s oldest, housed under the stunning canopy of Crispin Place. It’s chock full of independent traders, makers, designers and artists selling homemade, contemporary and vintage fashion, homewares, art, gifts, accessories and jewellery.

On the busiest days, up to 110 stalls could be there so a quick browse can easily turn into a whole afternoon. To keep you going, grab a bite to eat at one of the many gourmet street food stalls – it’s a culinary world tour taking in Vietnam, France, Ethiopia, India, Spain and more – followed by a drink at one of the bars. Because let’s be honest, shopping is thirsty work.

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Best Independent Shopping Experiences - Spitalfields Market - large indoor market with many market stalls

Spitalfields Market

London Silver Vaults

Ooh, magpies – come this way for shiny, shiny treasures. The London Silver Vaults is an underground collection of 25 specialist shops collectively offering the largest retail selection of fine antique and contemporary silver in the world.

All retailers are independent and many are third generation family businesses – what they don’t know about silver isn’t worth knowing. Let them guide you through choosing the best jewellery, watches, tableware, decorative pieces and rare collectables.

(Note: London Silver Vaults is open daily Monday to Saturday)

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Best Independent Shopping Experiences - The London Silver Vaults - Entrance doorway, pale stone building

© The London Silver Vaults

Daunt Books Cheapside

Bookish and cool – that’s the aura this independent bookshop chain has acquired as TikTokers flaunt their Daunt tote bags on the app. But Daunt shops are so popular with bibliophiles and gift seekers alike because they simply love books, and they love people who love books. 

You can step inside without any idea of what to buy and either browse to your heart’s content or let a friendly shop assistant gladly steer you to new discoveries and surprising finds. Look at books, talk books, touch books, smell books…perhaps don’t lick the books.

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Cheese at Leadenhall

Can you ever have too much cheese? This speciality cheesemonger, located in the heart of the historic Leadenhall Market, is very happy to satisfy cheese addicts plus anyone keen to pair their dairy delights with boutique wines and ports. And if you need any further excuse to visit, they offer weekday wine and cheese tastings, and have a small wine and port bar on site. (Closed Sat-Mon)

Once inside the beautiful Leadenhall Market you should also pop into a number of independent boutiques offering fashion to flowers, before a welcome refresher at one of the many eateries and bars.

(Note: Check opening times on Cheese at Leadenhall's website)

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Best Independent Shopping Experiences - Cheese at Leadenhall - people eating at tables in front of the restaurant inside the covered market

© Cheese at Leadenhall

Barbican Shop

Flaunt your arty, cool credentials by picking up “a few bits” from the Barbican shop. As expertly curated as their exhibitions, the shop stocks coveted gifts, accessories, books and homeware, including occasional exclusives and limited edition pieces. Where else could you find a Barbican Conservatory tea towel and a cat-shaped bicycle bell?

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Best Independent Shopping Experiences - Barbican Shop - interior view of the Barbican view of the entrance to the shop

© Barbican Shop