Little rivals the romance of a pre-loved relic; the stories a piece of vintage jewellery could tell or the history an old painting holds. When it comes to antique shopping, London is one of the best destinations to unearth hidden gems. From world-class auction houses and expert dealers to characterful markets piled high with curiosities, there’s plenty to browse. Whether you’re seeking a one-of-a-kind Louis XVI console or quirky 1950s trinkets, embark on your treasure hunt with our guide to antique shopping in London.
Just a stone’s throw from Regent’s Park in Lisson Grove, Alfies Antique Market’s distinctive Art Deco exterior entices and impresses in equal measure. A bohemian bazaar stuffed with quirky collectibles from the 20th century, Alfies Antique Market houses over 100 dealers selling all manner of curios. Peruse everything from movie posters and vintage Vuitton luggage to 1950s lamps and unusual timepieces. Many of the dealers have expanded out along surrounding Church Street, so be sure to check out the stores nearby. After a successful antiquing session, refuel with coffee and cake at Alfies’ rooftop café.
Immortalised in films and literature, Portobello Road needs little introduction. The pastel-hued houses lining this chic Notting Hill street have backdropped thousands of Instagram stories and its weekly antiques market is nothing short of iconic. A mile-long stretch of stalls with over 1,000 vendors selling their wares, Portobello Road Market is truly an al fresco Aladdin’s Cave. The antiques section starts where Chepstow Villas meets Portobello Road. Spend a good few hours combing through everything from old cameras to cufflinks, African tribal art to vintage luggage and Oriental ceramics. Take a detour to Rogers Arcade just off Portobello Road for 50 more dealers selling covetable collectibles.
‘King of Vintage’ William Banks-Blaney's little black book of customers reads like a who’s who of the A list; Amal Clooney, Meghan Markle and Emma Thompson have all popped into his Marylebone boutique to snap up pieces from its collection of haute couture rarities. From flirty 1980s Yves Saint Laurent gowns to demure 1950s Dior New Look dresses, William Vintage’s rails burst with the finest selection of vintage designer clothing in London. Every item is carefully handpicked by CEO and vintage expert Marie Blanchet and is, of course, totally one of a kind. Fashionistas with an eye for the past should book an appointment and dive into William Vintage’s chic sartorial archives.
With over 200 dealers under one roof, Grays Antiques Centre is home to one of the world’s largest collection of antiques. Occupying a handsome terracotta building in the heart of Mayfair, the historic market is a veritable treasure trove for antiques shopping. To say the Grays Antiques Centre is eclectic is an understatement. It’s easy to spend an afternoon getting lost in the maze of corridors, poring over cabinets filled with everything from shimmering silverware and ancient coins to pre-loved teddy bears and 19th-century jewellery. Grays is particularly good for unusual ceramics, Asian art and timepieces.
Where else for spectacular antique art than legendary auction house, Sotheby’s. Occupying a handsome building on New Bond Street, Sotheby’s has been uniting collectors with works from the world’s greatest artists since 1744. Serious art connoisseurs can bid on everything from historic Old Masters and Impressionist paintings to illustrious Fabergé objets d’art and Japanese Ando vases. Auctions are held three to four times weekly and if your purse can’t quite stretch to Monets or Manets, Grays Antique Centre is just round the corner.
Kensington Church Street is a smart stretch that connects Notting Hill to South Kensington. World-renowned for its high-quality international antiques, almost every other building is a boutique selling the finest historic furniture, from the Tang Dynasty to Art Deco. Gorgeous Lalique chandeliers twinkle alluringly from the window of Denton Antiques while Louis XVI commodes gleam regally in Butchoff. You’ll find the crème de la crème of antiques shopping in London along Kensington Church Street, with its dealers showcasing their exquisite furniture at the London’s Masterpiece fair and are members of the British Antique Dealers Association. For some serious antiquing, start at the Notting Hill end and spend a morning calling in to each of the stores before enjoying lunch in South Kensington.
Tucked away in Islington, Camden Passage is a place where Victoriana and the contemporary collide. All quaint cobbles and lamp posts, the narrow stretch is like a tiny vintage village, lined with charming antique shops and pretty cafés, with shoppers sipping their flat whites al frecso. For beautiful ceramics, head to Chris Tapsell and Mike Weedon Antiques, and discover incredible militaria at Hearts & Daggers. Each Wednesday and Saturday, Camden Passage’s market buzzes with bargain hunters perusing row upon row of stalls laden with retro clothing, used books and unique homeware. It’s worth taking your time to unearth some gems and oddities from amongst all the bric-a-brac.
While centuries old, the shimmering treasures at The Antique Jewellery Company manage to be at once totally fresh and on trend. Such is founder Olly Gerrish’s eye for utterly covetable jewellery. Located on Mayfair’s chic Maddox Street, this family-run store sources the most impeccable, one-of-a-kind gems from far and wide. Think; Edwardian moonstone heart rings, gold Tiffany citrine pendants and Art Nouveau bangles. The store is by appointment only, book a consultation with Gerrish herself to explore her glittering cache of antique jewellery.