London's Hidden Shopping Streets: A Walking Tour

When you’re in need of some serious retail therapy, it can be hard to resist the charms of Oxford Street’s main drag. But, there’s a brave new world beyond W1, y’know, and it’s jam-packed with one-off eats, speakeasies, and awesome boutiques selling serious swag.
Whether you’re in the mood for movie-vignette-worthy cobbled passages piled with chic shopping or edgy off-the-beaten-track establishments, it’s time to get acquainted with the capital’s best hidden gems. Here are eight worth tracking down this week.
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Lamb’s Conduit Street
Walking along this olde worlde little street in bookish Bloomsbury, it’s easy to assume that you took a wrong turn and somehow inadvertently entered the setting of a Dickens novel. But, what we love about this street is that the quaintness of its looks is countered by some genuinely cutting-edge stores. Darkroom has to be one of our favourites, with its extensive jewellery range from the likes of AEA and Hannah Martin, alongside achingly cool homewares. We love. But, it doesn’t stop there. If you need some serious interiors inspiration head to Ben Pentreath boutique — and Folk’s cool and understated casualwear never fails to deliver. One of our favourite stop-offs has to be Persephone Books, which publishes the works of neglected and overlooked women writers, and is definitely worth a browse — not just because of the excellent writing but because the books themselves are rather beautiful artefacts. Round off the trip with a visit to the deli-come-revolutionary-cooperative that is People’s Supermarket, or a trip to the deliciously old-school Italian Ciao Bella. The street also boasts some lovely boozers; we recommend The Lamb or The Perseverance.

Photos: Courtesy of Folk and People's Supermarket.
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Golborne Road
In the shadow of Ernö Goldfinger’s Brutalist Trellick Tower, this untouched shopping gem is often overlooked in favour of boho (and let’s face it, touristy) Portobello and chi-chi Notting Hill. But those who fail to take a trip to this corner of West London are missing out on Golborne’s unique, easy-going vibe. With its mix of Portuguese, Caribbean, and Moroccan culture, combined with a hefty dose of antique stores and indie boutiques, Golborne is an interesting — and rather delicious — place to spend an afternoon. Our tip? Start your meander with a stop at Lisboa Patisserie for the finest Portuguese sweet treats around. They also do a pretty mean bica—that’s a Portuguese espresso to the uninitiated. Once fed and watered, it’s simply a case of moseying around the clusters of gorgeous boutiques and antique shops. We love Phoenix for its vintage interior treasures, and Rellik never fails to deliver if you’re looking for some once-in-a-lifetime vintage from the likes of YSL or Westwood. We're also a tiny bit obsessed with T & F Slack's bespoke brogues. Oh, and if you want some insane, statement-making fashion? Kokon To Zai will sort you out.

Photos: Courtesy of Phoenix and Kokon To Zai
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Camden Passage
Okay, so maybe it’s not a secret, but this narrow cobbled passage in Islington is the gift that keeps on giving — especially if you’re a total vintage nerd. While boutiques come and go at a rather alarming rate in this little corner of N1, Annie’s remains the linchpin of this vintage-shopping mecca. Hoarders can happily spend hours in this exquisite haven that's free of retro polyester and crammed with Victorian and Edwardian masterpieces. We also love the more affordable but still quality vintage at the Fat Faced Cat, which majors on ‘50s party dresses and ‘40s tea dresses. And, if you're tired of rummaging the vintage fashion stalls and boutiques, head to I Feel Smug for super-cute homewares, and then brunch at The Elk In The Woods, or scope out some ridiculously delicious Viennese treats at Kipferl. Try the wiener schnitzel and we promise that you won’t regret it.

Photos: Courtesy of The Elk In The Woods and Annie's
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Maltby Street
Maltby Street is less a specific street than a state of mind. Only after a few Saturday morning visits can you navigate the foodie joints that wind around the railway arches of SE1 and stretch towards SE16. This is the place to find stalls selling Hackney home-smoked Salmon, Peckham-baked artisan bread and, if you head to St John’s infamous warehouse bakery, the most delicious home-cooked custard doughnuts known to man. For a non-gluttonous stop, try Lassco, which boasts a mind-boggling selection of reclaimed architectural and interior pieces that will sort you out whether you’re in the market for a vintage cast-iron radiator or a Victorian church altar. Further along, although no longer technically on Maltby Street, the gorging opportunities continue with the likes of Little Bread Pedlar, La Grotta Ices, and the London Honey Company. Then, you can wash it all down with a beer from the Kernel microbrewery or a G & T at Little Bird's gin speakeasy, or head to 40 Maltby Street for a delicious and locally sourced tapas-style extravaganza.

Photos: Courtesy of Little Bread Pedlar and London Honey Company
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Calvert Avenue
Over the last few years, Calvert Avenue has quietly built a rep as a serious shopping destination that rivals the very best in the capital. We love the brilliantly surreal jewellery, accessories, and interiors at concept store Luna & Curious and the eye-popping bling that Mawi serves up. There’s also Anthem’s enviable designer mix for the boys and Ally Capellino for timeless and beautifully made accessories. And, once you’ve bled your bank account dry, you can always find solace in a brownie at Leila’s Shop — or drown your sorrows with a coffee at Paper & Cup. Then, it’s off to Calvert 22’s gallery to check out all that’s cutting edge in the Russian art scene. The perfect Saturday afternoon? Well, yes, actually.

Photos: Courtesy of Calvert 22 and Leila's Shop
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Bellenden Road
Peckham’s Bellenden Road might not be as picturesque as some of the other streets mentioned in this feature, but it still packs a punch when it comes to awesome indie finds. We love the Review Bookshop, which aside from having a brilliant selection of hard-to-find magazines and books, also boasts an adorable resident dog called Gus. Bellenden is also an unexpected foodie haven. We love the relaxed deli-meets-cafe that is Anderson & Co, and the tiny Ganapati’s home-style Southern Indian cooking is regularly name-checked as one of the best places to eat curry in London. Oh, and if you’ve got a sweet tooth, then you should definitely head to Melange Chocolates, where the hot chocolate is legendary. We also strongly advise a trip to Threads, for excellently priced vintage swag and Persepolis for its Iranian treasure trove of handicrafts and Persian foods. Well worth the trip.

Photos: Courtesy of Threads and Ganapti
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Shepherd Market
Shepherd Market is an odd place. On the one hand, it feels like an idyllic village that has been inexplicably plonked in the heart of Mayfair; on the other, it is associated with the city’s dark underbelly, a place frequented by the prostitutes, pimps, and criminals of London past. Today, it has an eclectic mix of indie shops and restaurants. Food-wise, it majors on Lebanese cuisine — perhaps unsurprising, given that the Lebanese Embassy is just around the corner on Curzon Street. We love Al Hamra for a decadent Lebanese feast, but we’re also utterly fascinated by the Polish-Mexican fusion cooking at L’Autre. If you’re looking for a quick stop-off, the Italian cafe Piccolo does a great espresso. Plus, retail-wise, designer names like Bill Amberg and Tanner Krolle have settled here, and we can’t get enough of floral masterpieces at Paul Thomas Flowers.

Photos: Courtesy of Paul Thomas, Bill Amberg, Picollo and Al Hamra
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Chamberlayne Road
This cool strip of shops in unassuming Kensal Green is frequented by a bevy of high-rolling A-listers; Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz apparently live around the corner, as do Sophie Dahl, Jade Jagger, and Phoebe Philo. La Moss even got her wedding flowers from Chamberlayne Road’s florist par excellence, Scarlet and Violet, and we can’t get enough of the vintage designer furniture at Circus Antiques and Niche. There’s no harm in dreaming, right? And, after all that shopping (read: fantasizing), head to The Shop, which knocks up a cracking cocktail. But, before you get stuck in, we recommend that you line your stomach with some delicious morsels from Minkies Deli. Anyone who can resist the triple choc brownies needs a stern talking to.

Photos: Courtesy of Scarlet and Violet, The Shop and Minkies Deli

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