Big Brands and Museum Stores: Shop Your Socks Off in Knightsbridge

Knightsbridge's modern borders are rather blurred between Kensington and Chelsea and the edges of Hyde Park and Belgravia to the East. The area morphs in and out rapidly, taking in bits of Belgravia, Kensington, Sloane Street, the museum stores of South Kensington and even bits of Notting Hill, although that is not strictly Knightsbridge. What is easier to define is Knightsbridge's USP, it's high octane glamour and serious wealth. Knightsbridge's department stores, Harrods and Harvey Nichols say it all, temples to modern consumerism, these are places that do giant size walk in dolls houses, working mini Ferrari style cars and all the designer names you can think of. Modern, edgy opticians, Cutler and Gross that grace the fashion catwalks have their headquarters in Knightsbridge. Their cool white design stores, vintage British design combined with modern technology epitomises what Knightsbridge is all about. If you haven't quite got a deep enough purse for all this luxe, then you can still take home a small bit of feeling special by indulging in a Rococo chocolate or Hummingbird bakery cupcake. If baking takes your fancy more than actually eating, then head to Divertimenti, the ultimate cooking store and cook's paradise where you really can buy every gadget known to man (and woman) and sign up for cookery courses too. Have fun shopping.


This cool, clean store offers can't-miss gifts to enhance comfort. Fine bed linens, handmade blankets, every bath accessory you can imagine, a great selection of plush bathrobes and towels, and sweet-smelling beauty products such as orange flower shampoo are all artfully arranged in bookcases. Service is friendly, and bedroom displays look so fresh and comfortable you'll want to lie down and sleep or at least make a few purchases to recreate the look at home. This is all about selling a lifestyle, clean lines, good quality cotton and linen and the kind of house you would find in an interior's magazine. Perfect for browsing and dreaming. TUBE: High Street Kensington

Alfie's Antique Market is the biggest covered market for antiques in London. It hosts numerous stall holders who sell antiques and collectables from a variety of eras. The place is frequented by interior designers, collectors, and set designers for theatre and television. You can get vintage clothes, and vintage China, including designers from the twenties like the English designer Clarice Cliff, famous for her brightly coloured geometric inspired designs. If Victorian charm bracelets are your thing, then this is the place to come, a perfect place to while away a whole day dreaming about how you'd fit out one of the beautiful neighbouring town house if you owned one, or picking up some great outfits for a fancy dress party or club night.

Harvey Nichols

Favored especially by fashion-conscious folks, this well-regarded department store is known for its propensity towards designer labels. Begun in 1813, the enterprise offers a wealth of men's and women's apparel, not to mention a strong home furnishings section and fantastic beauty department. Personal shopping services and a salon allow customers to be pampered even further, and a restaurant, cafe and bar on the top floor provide welcome respite in the midst of busy shopping sprees. The restaurant serves amazing food now, as it has all been recently revamped, and just outside is a food hall where you can pick up not only luxury food, but lovely kitchen ware to try and recreate the feel of the place at home too. TUBE: Knightsbridge


London's world-famous department store, Harrods has been a city fixture since it opened in 1849. Impeccable service and a wonderful, diverse selection have earned the store a place in the hearts of Londoners. Although prices are somewhat steep, they're attached to quality merchandise, including apparel, toys, home furnishings and groceries. Plus, twice-yearly sales make things more accessible to budget-minded shoppers. Cultivating a bit of spectacle in Harrods are the Egyptian Room and a memorial to Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed, owner Mohammed's son. It gets busy at Christmas but is definitely worth a visit if you happen to be in London at that time of year, as it's Christmas tree and window displays are a delight. TUBE: Knightsbridge

Rococo chocolates was founded way back in 1983, quite a long time before foodie businesses became mainstream, but in areas like Belgravia, Chelsea and Knightsbridge where Rococo functions, this kind of specialist store is emblematic of the area and the people who shop there. As the name suggests, these are deliciously decadent chocolates, think gold leaf, fine ingredients and velvety textures. They go perfectly with the area itself, Knightsbridge is all about luxury and fine living but it doesn't forget to support fair trade chocolate and cocoa farmers too. There are all sorts of interesting flavours here, but one of the new arrivals is rosemary and seasalt suspended in an artisan milk chocolate. There is also a summer pudding, white chocolate with mixed berries, and salty caramel balls disguised as seagull eggs. Makes the perfect present or special treat for oneself.

The Hummingbird Bakery is just one of a batch of delicious bakery and cupcake shops in London and across the UK. Serving up delicious butter cream topped cupcakes and various other things, this is about the American kind of cupcake, soft light sponge in various flavours and huge amounts of soft sugary topping. The bakery is very popular among ladies who lunch in Knightsbridge and no doubt its sugar confections also appear at many a child's birthday party in that part of the world. At Halloween the bakery does lots of ghoulish themed cupcakes, gravestones on top of muddy paths, pumpkins, ghosts and ghouls. At Christmas similiarly suitable themes abound. There are the usual red velvet and vanilla cupcakes, chocolate ones, black bottomed ones, which, if you're interested are dense chocolate cupcakes with a cheesecake centre and a frosted creamcheese topping and carrot cake.

Divertimenti describes itself as the ultimate cookshop. There is cookware, bakeware, kitchen knives, electricals, a cookery school, cooks tools, food and books. All of top quality and great new gadgets that you didn't even know you needed, but once you use them, you can't live without them. There are things like cups for measuring curry spices, or ceramic knives. You can buy beautiful copper cookware and bowls, to recreate that victorian kitchen look. Agas too are part of the package and then, once you have bought this British classic, you can go on a cookery course to learn how to cook with the behemoth of the British kitchen. For those who like Maroccan cooking, there is an impressive range of Tagines in several colours, as well as paella pans and fondue sets. The store is also celebrating 50 years in 2013 too.

The Science museum is of course a museum store, but it's a great shop, and since the big museums form part of Knightsbridge and Kensington's cache then it seemed like a good list on which to appear. The museum itself is loads of fun for children and the adults who accompany them, and the shop continues that fun. Strange gadgets abound, gyroscopes, slinkies that climb down your stairs, puzzles, logic quizzes and chemistry sets. Basically full of interesting gadgets and gizmos. There are forensic kits, kitchen chemistry, first science sets and full blown chemistry sets, complete with chemical compounds, test tubes and even a small spirit burner. For adults there are USB desk fans, speakers for ipods and music players, flash cameras and smartphone extra boosting chargers. A techie paradise.

The Victoria and Albert museum is a world famous art and design museum. They have exhibitions of film costumes, Princess Diana's dresses, David Bowie, Vivienne Westwood and now Pearls. You can easily spend all day in the museum even just looking at the permanent collections, let alone in the shop which sells great coffee table tomes to accompany the collections and ideas expressed in the museum, as well as jewellery, clothes, cushions, furnishings, fabrics, mugs, stationery and presents. There are gloves, necklaces and children's toys. Brilliantly funny covers for your oyster card (travel card) holder in London riffing on the pearl theme of the late 2013 exhibition and much much more. If you can't get to the museum, then you can shop online too.

Cutler and Gross is an international brand now, but it's flagship store is in Knightsbridge in the heart of West London. The store was designed by architect Piers Gough and is clean white lines to display their trademark sunglasses. Cutler and Gross has 40 years experience in finding the right glasses and sunglasses for you. They use vintage and vintage inspired frames with top of the range lenses. Present at fashion week and with their own magazine, the brand is present all over the world. It conjures up a kind of historical glamour mixed up with modern celebrity and they are seen as the thinking person's glasses of choice. Autumn winter 2013 men's collection for instance is inspired by bespoke British tailoring, a look that their glasses top off perfectly.


Meet Emma Wallis

London gives Emma a warm fuzzy feeling every time she gets back to her home city. As a writer and broadcaster she travels extensively round Europe and the world, but is always happy to return to...  More About Emma