The Best Souvenirs To Buy In London
These are the gifts that make the locals most proud.
A stroll down Shaftesbury Avenue or a quick whizz past the shops around Piccadilly Circus, and you'd be convinced that cutout face masks of the Queen and One Direction are what Britain does best. Despite their being in seemingly every shop window on every street corner, though, Londoners still don't know who buys them. When it comes to scouting gifts in the capital, it's best to avoid Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus, and instead head to the city's famed department stores and artsy independents. Here, you'll spend a little more, but find purchases unique presents entirely on point.
Beefeater Christmas Ornament
Beefeaters are an icon of London, one that's instantly recognized and thought fondly of worldwide. Come Christmas time, they look good on the tree in their aptly festive uniforms, and cherub-like painted faces. Find them at Liberty, for guaranteed luxury and that quintessential London touch, though there's no doubt you'll be able to pick one up at any of the city's luxury department stores ($28). Plus, Liberty is one of London's most celebrated shops and it's magical to visit at this time of year
Emma Bridgewater Mug
Chances are if you go to a friend's house for afternoon tea in England, they'll have at least one piece of Emma Bridgewater crockery. It's as popular to buy for yourself as it is to gift, what with the brand's vast array of plates, mugs, jugs and bowls, all with different prints and ability to be personalized. This is a family business that contributes to Staffordshire's heritage. Every charming piece is designed by Emma and her husband. Visit the Emma Bridgewater locations in Fulham and Marylebone, as well as online (from $30).
Rob Ryan Screenprint
Rob Ryan is one of London's most celebrated independent craftsmen, who has exhibited across the UK, illustrated 3 books, graced many a gift shop with his products, and collaborated with numerous international publications. His intricate papercuts and screenprints are not only mesmerizing and beautiful, but instantly recognizable, too, and will brighten up any home. Purchse them at Ryantown, Rob Ryan's small gallery and boutique on East London's Columbia Road (from $210). On a Sunday, when the flower market is in full swing, you'll struggle to see or find the store for crowds and flowers, but pick any other day and you won't miss it.
Mr Lyan Mixed Cocktails
Mr Lyan is one of London's most celebrated mixologists, known for his unusual and unexpected cocktail combinations. His bar, Dandelyan in Mondrian London, just won the title of 50th Best Bar in the World. Go for drinks, then take the essence of the experience back home to enjoy with friends. And the Rainy Day spritz—with bitter rhubarb vermouth and white vermouth—is the perfect gift to sum up a city that's known for its rain ($53). You can buy it at Selfridges (pictured).
British Tea Caddy
Does is get more British than tea? Perk up anyone's afternoon (and kitchen) with a British tea caddy. Available at Harrods; cost varies. This gives you an excuse to spend an hour wandering the store, one of the world's most famous shops. In the food hall, you'll find all sorts of weird and wonderful ingredients you never knew you needed.
Visit T+L’s Guide London Shopping Guide for more shopping inspiration.