London’s markets are not just about shopping. Often surrounded by independent boutiques and coffee shops, the city’s markets are a hotbed of culture and cafes, not to mention great places for people watching. London has some great market shopping in almost every corner but I’ve selected 5 that offer more than just a retail experience.
Columbia Road Flower Market
“Get em ere, three bunches for a paaand.” You will hear the Columbia Road Flower Market long before you spot it lining a narrow Hoxton street. From flower box blooms to orchids that the vendors describe as ‘like your Mother-In-Law, in other words, they never die!’ all sorts of floral fancies can be purchased here. Behind the stalls are pastel-coloured independent boutiques selling everything from handmade lamps to retro sweets. To further indulge your sweet tooth head to Lily Vanilli’s bakery.
Sunday UpMarket, Brick Lane
Over several floors in the east end’s Old Truman Brewery is spread the Sunday UpMarket. Stallholders sell a range of treats from original art to homemade cakes. A great place to eat whilst you shop, one whole corner of the market is dedicated to international cuisine, your nose will draw you towards the spicy-smelling woks. The surrounding area is bursting with hip Shoreditch cafes and boutiques, as well as the famed Indian restaurant strewn Brick Lane. Take some time to wander the surrounding streets and see what crazy street art you can spot amongst the retro goods stores.
I cannot visit this area without singing the song from Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks. One of London’s oldest markets, at Portobello you can find some exquisite antiques amongst trendy clothes stalls and the well-known Hummingbird cupcake bakery. Take a good look at the pastel-coloured houses and see if you can spot the home of Hugh Grant in the movie Notting Hill.
Stables Market Camden
Nowhere is better for people watching than Camden. Leather, studs, platforms and kilts will be seen perusing the gothic stalls that are now mixed with up-market gift and jewellery sellers at the restored Stables Market. In the centre you can enjoy a unique drinking experience at a 200-year-old Grade II Listed Horse Hospital now converted into Proud Camden. By day you can enjoy a relaxed drink and watch dvd’s in the old horse stables and by night Proud Camden is transformed into a live music venue.
Borough Market is the place for foodies. Nestled under the railway lines near London Bridge station, fans of the movie Bridget Jones Diary might recognise this area as Bridget’s home. Borough Market has hosted food traders for hundreds of years but today the local traders of fish, fruit and vegetables, stand alongside stalls selling and cooking an array of delicious international cuisine. After sampling a freshly fried German sausage and purchasing a mammoth homemade brownie made your way to the much praised Monmouth Coffee shop for a shot of caffeine and a bench from which to take in the scenery.
Red Carnation Hotels have six luxury four and five star hotels in London, making it the perfect base to explore London from.
Image credits: Cover photo of the cheese at Borough Market © iStock / coldsnowstorm. Columbia Road Flower Market © iStock / alija. Bugles at Portobello Road Market © iStock / rugbymouth. Borough Market Produce © iStock / TommasoT.