Best Places to Shop in London if You’re Not Royal

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Find the best places to shop in London on a more realistic family budget. Enjoy seeing the luxury shops but bring home the goods you can actually afford.

The photo collage shows the store front of 4 shops in London.

When scouting out all the best places to shop in London before our family trip, list after list included high-end luxury stores and items that are quite a bit outside of our realistic family budget.

I didn’t plan to come home with designer luxury goods or gold-gilded tea sets.

I simply wanted some fun shops for us to browse and find nice-quality items to bring home from our adventure.

If you get a little creative with my list of the best gifts from London, you can shop at even the pricier stores and still find something special to buy and bring back to the states.

But after seeing the stores for myself, this is the list of places I can confidently recommend as being worth your time:

Marks & Spencer

If I could have packed up one store in London and brought it home to plant in my neighborhood, it would have been Marks & Spencer, hands down.

I’m not going to lie, since we’ve been home I’ve seriously considered the practicalities of flying to London just for shopping trips here.

The airline lost my daughter’s suitcase. She had nothing but what was in her carry-on for 3 days.

We were able to replace every single thing she needed, and I mean everything from head to toe, all in one stop at Marks & Spencer.

A young girl holds shopping bags in front of Marks & Spencer.

The lemonade from that pile of lemons is that she now has the cutest London wardrobe as her souvenir from the trip!

The clothing she chose is flattering, fun, great quality, and reasonable prices. I might even go so far as to say you might want to purposely pack a little less in your suitcase and treat yourself to a new outfit or two on your trip.

But my favorite part about Marks & Spencer was the grocery store section with the greatest bakery, fresh produce, and ready-to-go meals and food items.

We totally stocked up on treats for celebrating Easter in London here, too.

Hamleys Toy Shop

It was my daughter’s birthday the day before we left for London, so of course we wrapped up a note good for “One Toy from Hamleys” during our trip.

The red awnings outside Hamleys shop

This 7-floor toy store is the most epic kid wonderland imaginable and even my teen girls had an absolute blast browsing through all the fun toys.

If you’re looking for a Paddington Bear to bring home as a gift from London, this would be an excellent spot to get a toy and a matching book to go with it.


This internationally famous department store is known as the best place to shop in all of England.

But it won’t take you very long to realize that you need a pretty royal wallet to be able to afford most of the items offered inside.

Two girls stand in front of the Harrods sign.

My girls had never seen anything quite as luxurious as the Harrods gilded escalators and high fashion offerings, we had a great time doing a little peeking at how “the other half lives.”

However, if you want to bring a little piece of Harrods home, I do have a very practical pair of suggestions:

  1. Head Directly to the Bottom Floor: The Harrods food hall has fine chocolates, wines, and cheeses that would be a great place to pick up a goodie to bring home. There is also a book shop and gift shop on that floor filled with more reasonably priced items like tote bags, scarves, Christmas ornaments, and more.
  2. Wait for the Airport: There is a small Harrods shop at Heathrow airport in the duty-free shopping section. We found this little shop far more manageable than the multi-story department store and found fun little goodies to bring home. You should still visit the real deal while in London, but maybe wait for the souvenir purchase until you leave.

Laird Hatters

When my husband announced he wanted a traditional English cap as his gift from London, we did a quick bit of research to find a good shop.

The outside of the hat shop.

We stumbled onto the Laird Hatters shop and had an incredible experience getting him properly fitted and styled for his cap.

We were told by our salesman that the hats are handmade in London and he took the time and care to help match my husband to the perfect hat that suited him.

His cap was the most expensive single item we purchased on the trip but it is also the only thing he wanted for himself. I know he’ll use it for years to come, so it was a quality over quantity choice for us.


This bright and cheery tea shop was one of our favorite places to shop in London.

The outside of the Whittard tea shop in Covent Garden

My girls loved the teeny tiny cups for sampling different teas and luxurious hot cocoa blends at the Whittard store in Covent Garden.

I picked up some fantastic tea blends in adorable London tins as my souvenir from the trip and my daughter picked out a couple canisters of hot cocoa mix to enjoy at home.

They also sell tea pots, tea infusers, and tea mugs and cups for all your brewing needs.

Historic Royal Palace Gift Shops

Museum gift shops in the US are definitely hit or miss but I was truly surprised by just how fun the gift shops were at Kensington Palace and the Tower of London during our visit.

I picked up a Christmas ornament for our tree and a few other very small items, but they had a lovely assortment of unique items that I did not see in stores anywhere else in London.

If you visit one of the Historical Palace attractions, take a quick walk through their gift shop for a peek.

Buckingham Palace Rd. Souvenir Shops

If you’re looking for basic travel souvenirs like a London t-shirt, hoodie, pretty postcards, keychains, and similar such things, you’ll find plenty of ticky-tacky cheap souvenir shops all around London.

Those kind of stores usually give me the willies but we were lucky enough to accidentally stumble upon a row of classic souvenir shops near Buckingham Palace that were cleaner, nicer, and had a better selection that your average shop.

You’ll find them on Buckingham Palace Rd. next to the Buckingham Palace Road Shop.

Heathrow Airport

Don’t underestimate the selection you’ll find in the duty free shops at Heathrow airport.

If you prefer to spend your visit to London actually experiencing the attractions and sights instead of shopping, you’ll find plenty of options for buying a quick souvenir to bring home or a fancy luxury item in the duty free shopping section.

Honorable Mentions: Liberty and Fortnum & Mason

Last but not least, I have to give an honorable mention to two stores that are amazing to shop at but I was not lucky enough to spend enough time in during our visit.

The Liberty of London shop was a predominant plot point to one of my favorite book club books. I was so excited to see it in person but it is not the kind of place my family was very interested in spending much time.

I’m just going to have to plan a return girls’ trip or solo trip so I can browse as long as my heart desires.

The outside of Liberty.

And my biggest regret from our trip is that we never managed to find the time to visit the Fortnum & Mason shop.

Liberty and Fortnum & Mason will be the first spots I shop if given the chance to visit London again!

The photo collage shows two storefronts in London.

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