Each month we ask a London expert to give us their Top 5 for the best in the capital's shopping, dining, nightlife and more. With the holiday season fast approaching we asked travel journalist and inveterate shophound Ferne Arfin to pick her favourite shops for gift inspiration.
What's it like? Forget pop-up shops. Shoreditch claims the world's first pop-up mall, set up in a double layer of recycled shipping containers. About 30 compact shops and 15 food and drink outlets occupy the site, each decorated to enhance its tightly curated merchandise and target "tribe" – from a minimalist outlet selling nothing but hip wrist watches to a fragrant branch of a Parisian perfumer where you can drop £50 on a single scented candle. Dip into one mini-shop after another for moderately priced one-offs from international designer start-ups, jewels, kitchenwear, clothing and trendy street style.
Who to shop for? All the Gen Z'ers and Post Millennials on your list
Why I love it: It's bursting with energy and after shopping, the urban views from the bars and cafes on the upper level are smashing.
How to find it: 2-10 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6GY. 020 7033 2899
What's it like? Luxury costume jewellery, designed by Indian-born globetrotter Mawi Keivom and a cohort of top fashion collaborators, glows from glass display cabinets here. It's the stuff of a grown woman's girly dreams. Chunky crystals, semi-precious stones and bits of vintage straight out of the dressing-up box decorate thick gold or titanium plated chains, brooches, rings and bracelets. Amal Clooney, Samantha Cameron, Beyoncé and Jessie J have all shopped real old-school glamour here.
Who to shop for? A woman with the confidence to carry off high impact bling.
Why I love it: An underlying sense of fun is apparent in every brilliantly coloured piece.
How to find it: 11 Calvert Avenue London E2 7JP. 020 7033 9853
What's it like? With its simple sign and old-fashioned store front, it's hard to believe you could easily drop a cool million at The Map House. Don't worry – you can also spend £20 to £50 on a unique present here. The six tiny galleries of London's oldest antiquarian map dealer hold the most comprehensive collection of antique maps, globes, prints and posters offered for sale anywhere in the world. And the nicest thing about this place is that anyone interested in old maps – from serious collectors to school boys with a few spare pounds – gets the same attention and respect.
Who to shop for? Students boning up for geography exams, someone who's just moved to a new area, your dad.
Why I Love it: This kind of shop is fast disappearing, but the courtly old school specialist dealer is something London is especially good at.
How to find it: 54 Beauchamp Pl, London SW3 1NY. 020 7589 4325
What's it like? Liberty's faux Tudor façade has been a fixture on the shopping scene since the mid-19th century. Head inside and you’ll find impeccably selected goods arrayed against the richly embellished, theatrical interior. And the store’s iconic multi-level atrium really sets the scene: avant-garde fashions, costume and precious jewellery, accessories, furniture, exotic gifts, jewel-coloured textiles and yarns, all peering out over the carved wooden balconies.
Who to shop for? The man or woman who craves eccentric craftsmanship and artistry. Your favourite Aunt May, perhaps?
Why I Love it: Simply the most beautiful store in London.
How to find it: Regent Street, London W1B 5AH – main entrance on Great Marlborough Street. 020 7734 1234
What's it like? Go on a creative adventure in chocolate, combining single estate cocoa from Trinidad and Tobago with exotic flavours like banana and thyme, tobacco, guava! The bars and filled chocs are to die for – and as for the chocolate covered salted caramel popcorn balls… But the standout creation is the liquid centre seasalted caramel chocolate truffle, invented by owner/chef Gerard Coleman for Gordon Ramsey's restaurant at Claridges.
Who to shop for? Who doesn't like chocolate?
Why I Love it: The sweeties may be gourmet, but the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly.
How to find it: 89 Lower Sloane Street, Chelsea, London SW1W 8DA. 0845 270 6996
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