Where to go shopping in London: A Student Guide
Finding the right places to shop as a student can be difficult, especially after moving to a new city. And shopping in a major city as large as London can make the experience even harder, as your options seem both wider (in terms of what’s available overall) and more limited (depending on how far you want to travel, and how much you want to spend).
Whether you’re interested in browsing high street stores hoping they’ll offer student discount; visiting vintage or independent stores and finding something unique that suits you; or traversing through market stalls finding quality items for decent prices, there is a long list of locations that every student with a shopping habit just HAS to visit.
If you’ve recently moved into student accommodation in London and are searching for their perfect shopping districts, these eight shopping destinations should fill your boots with plenty options to browse through – each option offers a unique style along with a variety of price points, so you’ll have plenty of options to suit your taste (and the size of your student loan)!
1. Oxford Street
As one of London’s busiest streets, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who has visited Oxford Street and failed to find just the type of shop they were looking for. With over 300 stores and outlets to browse, Oxford Street is unofficially London’s heart of shopping, offering a wide range of British and international designers. As the home to the legendary Selfridges’ (which you’ll find later in our list), Oxford Street also holds Primark’s impressive flagship store along with a variety of high street stores including Topshop, giving you access to all the most recent trends at competitive prices.
While there are also plenty of designer brands along the street as well, many student budgets might not be able to make the most of a visit into those stores – so we won’t spend any time on them in this post – but if you just have to have designer, take a stroll down Oxford Street and you’re bound to find it! As with most places in London, weekends on Oxford Street can get overwhelmingly busy, so it might be best to visit on a weekday morning, if you can spare the time!
Another of London’s better known shopping districts, Knightsbridge offers some of the top selection in luxury and high-street shopping – second only to Oxford Street. With Harrods located here, you’re sure to find luxury and everyday products for whatever you’re searching for, but a little bit of lesser-known local wisdom is that Londoners themselves tend to spend more of their time in nearby Harvey Nichols instead, to avoid the millions of tourists that Harrods attracts each year.
While Knightsbridge might not be the best shopping location for those on a budget, it is a unique experience that everyone living in London should experience at least once during their time there, so make sure to get down at least once to take in the atmosphere!
With more than 300 high-street and luxury retailers all together under one roof, this American-style mall is the perfect location for an ‘everything-in-one-place’ kind of shop. You’ll find stores, a cinema and plenty of food options here, so you can really spend a day in this impressive mall. With so much variety it can be easy for students to find whatever stores they might be looking for without having to travel far, which is especially ideal for busy students who need to be able to pick up a variety of things in one tidy trip.
With a sister location at Westfield Stratford in East London, the mall is one of the largest shopping malls in Europe and is perfect to travel to for any students looking for an easily accessible shopping day.
As the birthplace of the “mod” movement, Carnaby Street was the talk of the town throughout the Swinging Sixties. With edgier style found throughout each of these stores, along with numerous bars and restaurants, it’s much easier to spend a day really sinking into the culture of London here, shopping, dining and relaxing. With plenty of urban wear and vintage stores to browse, those looking for unique styles will have plenty of opportunities to find exactly what they’re looking for!
The thirteen streets that make up Carnaby can be found between Oxford Street and Regent Street, and host over 100 brands including independent boutiques, designer names and heritage brands.
5. Notting Hill
Notting Hill is known throughout London not only because of the famous Hugh Grant film, but also because of its wide selection of cheap, unique and boho-chic shopping options. With the chance to browse vintage, high-end and bohemian stores, Notting Hill hosts the perfect selection of shops for any student looking to expand their style outside of what they can find in high-street stores.
With Portobello Road Market among the local area, Notting Hill is certainly not an area that any trendy student could miss. Along with clothing, Notting Hill also plays host to a wide array of shops holding antiques, books and gifts as well as organic food – which makes it the perfect place to fuel new recipes and fill your student home with interesting and individual pieces.
Those searching for alternative clothing need look no further than Camden, home to some of London’s most unusual shops – including the incredible futuristic/alien clothing store, Cyberdog. Walking along Camden High Street you won’t just find high-street stores like Urban Outfitters, but will also be greeted by gothic and punk fashion stores housed next to (and sometimes part of) tattoo and piercing parlours.
Following the street further you’ll find Camden Lock Market, filled to the brim with weird and wonderful trinkets and clothing – perfect for those looking for an interesting gift or memento, as well as beautiful hand-crafted jewellery to add to your collection.
For ‘alternative’ students, Camden is an ideal shopping destination for filling your wardrobe with interesting and specially-crafted pieces that you’ll find for amazing prices.
As a landmark haunt for any ‘shopaholic’ that finds themselves in London, Selfridges’ is the ultimate home for those looking to indulge in some proper retail therapy. Open since 1909 and covering six floors (over ten acres of shopping space), this incredible complex is one of the ultimate London shopping experiences.
The six floors are filled with top fashion and beauty brands, as well as a variety of accessory and homeware stores that make any trip to the massive complex an opportunity for an all-day shopping spree. As well as apparel, Selfridges also hosts an amazing range of tech and gadget brands, making itself an incredible spot to shop for some new and upgraded tech.
The outstanding Food Hall found on the ground floor offers everything from luxury hampers to a separate confectionary department providing old-school-style Pick n’ Mix sweets. As a unique London shopping experience, any student with a proclivity for browsing should visit Selfridge’s at least once during their time in the city.
Students hoping to find an exclusive range of independent shops can find all they need in Spitalfields. The vibrant hub features up-and-coming young designers as well as intriguing creative businesses, which gives you the chance to find your new favourite brands before they take off. While Spitalfields does hold renowned brands like Barbour, it’s also home to a variety of independent boutiques.
Old Spitalfields Market can be found within a scenic Victorian arcade and hosts a wide array of market stalls displaying antiques, fashion and accessories as well as street food. Built in 1786, yet with a long history of markets operating on the site since the 1600s, today’s visitors will find themed markets filled with a variety of products ideal for London students to browse.
With a wide variety of shopping options available to students in London, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with choice – but hopefully with this list of top places to go shopping in London, it should be easier to find what is right for your needs. Those looking for high-street and designer brands may find themselves more at home in areas like Oxford Street and Westfield with their wide range of clothing beauty and other stores.
But students looking for a more personalised destination could find themselves drawn to other areas in London – Camden and Spitalfields are perfect for alternative students hoping to search for unique market finds, while Notting Hill and Carnaby Street provide the perfect selection of vintage stores.
Whatever you’re looking for, you can be sure that London is filled with plenty to keep you entertained as a student. If you’re looking forward to moving to The Big Smoke before your university year begins, finding the best accommodation for you is the first step to solidifying your plans.
With a great selection of student accommodation in London, Homes for Students offer amazing features including free wifi and round-the-clock security, plus your bills included so you can really see where your rent money is going – and help you save money or leave you with a higher shopping budget!