Continued (page 12 of 13)
At the same location as it's been for nearly 300 years and still supplying groceries to the royal family, Fortnum & Mason (181 Piccadilly; 44-20-7734-8040; fortnumandmason.com) offers plenty of up-to-date pleasures, including a wine bar adjacent to its huge fresh-food hall. The store has expanded beyond food into housewares, luggage, bath products, games and more, making it an outstanding source for posh-looking gifts. Taking the opposite course from the typical history-rich London business, Hotel Chocolat (844-493-1313 in the U.K. only;hotelchocolat.co.uk) started out online and then moved into the real world, including in Kensington (163 Kensington High St.) and Knightsbridge (5 Montpelier St.). Truffles, bonbons, caramels, nuts—it's a chocoholic's dream, instantly gratified.
It's been several decades since the at-the-time-unknighted Terence Conran opened his first store, Habitat, in London, but its offspring the Conran Shop (Michelin House, 81 Fulham Rd., Chelsea; 44-20-7589-7401; and 55 Marylebone High St.; 44-20-7723-2223, conranshop.co.uk) still defines contemporary British home design. Come ogle, even if you can afford only tea towels or egg cups. Don't be deceived by the proletarian name of the General Trading Company (2 Symons St.; 44-20-7730-0411; generaltradingcompany.co.uk), which has royal warrants to sell "fancy goods" to the queen and her kin. Oddly, this includes everything from whoopee cushions to updated Eaton chairs. Very hip, very fun but also very functional, the housewares at Purves & Purves (25–27 George Street; 44-20-7486-3200; purves.co.uk) are also a good value—especially for items created by top designers like Philippe Starck and Jasper Morrison.
Butler & Wilson (189 Fulham Rd.; 44-20-7352-3045; butlerandwilson.co.uk) stuffs its Chelsea shop with sparkly things, from rhinestone headbands to cobra-shaped crystal bangles. Turquoise, amber and other less flashy stones are also used, but this place still isn't for shrinking violets. The East End's Leslie Craze Gallery (33–35a Clerkenwell Green; 44-20-7608-0393; lesleycrazegallery.co.uk) represents an international array of up-and-coming jewelers working with materials that might include paper, lacquer and seashells. Selling their own designs are master goldsmith Ben Day (18 Hanbury St.; 44-20-7247-9977; benday.co.uk), whose Spitalfield shop carries bold pieces embedded with amethysts, sea pearls and emeralds, among other stones, and Stephen Webster (1a Duke St.; 44-20-7486-6576; www.stephenwebster.com), the self-described "diamond geezer," known for his numerous awards and celebrity clientele.
Started in hip Notting Hill and since expanded worldwide, Myla (original store: 77 Lonsdale St.; 44-20-7221-9222; myla.com) is the place to get your naughty knickers and other sexy lingerie. Also international now and perhaps even naughtier, the London-grown Agent Provocateur (6 Broadwick St., Soho; 44-20-7439-0229; agentprovocateur.com) sells pasties, whips and masks along with its bras and panties (also massage oils, candles and music for romantics).