Monday, February 18, 2013

Shopping in London: Portobello Market

Before leaving Toronto I did a lot of reading and research on what London had to offer in terms of shopping. Knowing I would be by myself the week I was in London, the last thing I wanted to do was end up alone in a dodgy area. I also had the benefit of having a lot of Twitter followers who are quite familiar with London. Between their recommendations and the tour books I read I had a rough wish list of places to visit before I even left home.
One of the places that was at the top of my list was Portobello Market in Notting Hill. Not usually one for flea markets, the write ups and recommendations from people made me feel like this was a must see. I was told I had to go on a Saturday as that is when clothing is the main attraction. So off I went. Figuring out of my own what tube station to get off at (Notting Hill Gate) and then following the crowd to the entrance of the market I was pleasantly surprised to see the wide variety of wares for sale. Booth after booth of clothes, accessories, antiques, food and art, even if I wasn't interested in shopping the atmosphere and variety of products would have made it worth the trip.
I didn't have anything in particular in mind to buy, I really didn't know what I would find when I got there. I found I got caught up in the atmosphere though and pretty soon I was trying on dresses over my clothes, trying to judge the look and fit through some tiny mirror someone held up for me and turning over 13 pounds for a nice dress I have yet to wear but hope to this summer.

My finds at Portobello Market, 1 dress, 2 scarves, 2 pairs of earrings. Total spent: 24 pounds

It felt like this street went on forever and even though it was late afternoon, the crowds were still out in full force. I walked the entire street to have a look at everything being offered and then on my way back to where I started picked up a few more items. I bought 2 scarves, one for 6 pounds and another for 2 pounds, and 2 pairs of earrings that were 2 pounds each. I could have bought a lot more but it was only my first day of shopping and I wanted to save some money for later in the week.


In addition to Portobello Market, the retail shops in the area were also open and they had some cool things as well. I was drawn to a Kurt Geiger store with all their shiny shoes on display as well as the Allsaints Spitalfields store where the walls of antique sewing machines on display made for some very cool decorating.
All in all I loved my afternoon in Portobello Market. If you get a chance to go leave lots of time for the market itself, you don't want to rush through it and then take some time to visit the regular retailers in the area. I also walked around taking pictures of Notting Hill. The homes were so stunning!
Here is my favourite one, I loved the colourful townhouses:

Chances are if I find myself back in London I will definitely be back at Portobello.

Portobello Market is also known for great antique shopping. If that is something you are interested in its worth a visit. Here is a website for more information:

My London Shopping Adventures

Last year I was fortunate enough to have a friends wedding to attend in the UK. When comtemplating how long I was going to stay, (only go for wedding or stay on extra days), one of the main reasons for using up all my vacation time in one shot was I wanted to see London, England. It was never on my wish list of places to see but being so close to the city and hearing such good things about London from others, I felt I couldn't pass up the opportunity. And since you never know what life has in store for you I figured I should take advantage of already being in England, bite the bullet and fork over the cash to add a week's stay in London post wedding events. After having experienced this fabulous city I can say it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Of course at the top of my list was seeing what London had to offer in the way of shopping. Also mindful of the very expensive exchange rate (1.6 to every Canadian dollar) I wondered if there was anything I would be able to afford. I should never even have questioned this. For London being the great city it is, shopping truly exists at every spectrum of budgets. I did a variety of shopping from street markets, to high streets to department stores and found great things everywhere.
My next series of posts will outline in detail all of the great areas of the city and shopping destinations I saw. I'm sure there are many I missed which is why I hope to get back some day. It's worth it to make trips to London just for the shopping which you know I would gladly do if I can get it to fit my budget.