Shopping for antiques can be an enjoyable pastime whether you plan to make a purchase today or are just browsing. You never know when something exciting will catch your eye.
Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill is one of the most famous street markets in the world. The shops are open seven days a week and the antique market is on Saturdays with other market days during the week. The arcades are worth spending time in but try not to bring a big bag with you as it can get very crowded both inside and out on the street. It's not really the place to come for a bargain but that doesn't mean you won't find something you love at a price you can afford.
Alfies, in north Marylebone, has over 100 antique dealers housed in a converted former department store with an Egyptian art deco facade and a rooftop cafe. Alfies has been here for over 30 years and appeals to lovers of 20th-century retro goods as well as serious collectors and dealers. It's a true treasure trove and always worth exploring.
There are large items and small and it's easy to get lost with all the twists and turns and different levels. Stallholders are friendly so it's worth having a chat if you see something you like whether it's an African statue or a Rupert the Bear annual. A great place to shop for really unusual one-off gifts.
Over in the City of London, the London Silver Vaults have been hidden away underground for over 50 years. There are about 30 shops down there specializing in different types of silverware from cufflinks and rings to grandiose bowls and urns. There's modern, contemporary silver as well as pieces that are hundreds of years old.
Each shop is actually in a vault but the doors are open when the dealers are in and it's a fascinating place to visit. Prices start within most people's price range but extend to over £100,000 for the serious collectors.
Grays Antiques is in two buildings in Mayfair with two floors in each making this a maze to explore regularly. Dealers at Grays offer fine antiques, jewelry, vintage fashion, toys, and much more. It's an immensely diverse collection in the West End of London.
Another reason to visit is to see one of London's hidden rivers. The River Tyburn was discovered in the building when it flooded the former plumber merchants. Bennie Gray rescued the Mayfair building in 1977 and made a feature of the River Tyburn, a running tributary of the Thames. It's in the center of the basement of The Mews building and is now so clean there are goldfish swimming in it.
The London Architectural Salvage Company has a fabulous store near Vauxhall with large reclaimed items such as fireplaces, iron railings, and gates, ornate statues and even street signs kept outside, plus a large selection of wooden and tiled flooring. Head inside for furniture, mirrors, stunning cast iron radiators and plenty of interior design inspiration.
The lighting items are always interesting and there's even a nautical section if you fancy having a ship's bell or steering wheel on the wall. There are also lots of smaller items too so you could just choose a replacement door number or single coat hook. And while you're thinking about what to buy, there's a lovely cafe too that serves proper loose leaf tea.
If you're searching for horology head to Pendulum of Mayfair Ltd, a family antique clocks shop that has been established for 20 years in the heart of central London.