Wednesday, 24 November 2010


London has some really fabulous, eccentric little independent shops, generally located in the more bourgeois parts of town like my beloved old 'hood of Kensington or the hipster Dickensian back alleys of Shoreditch. Some of these quirky outlets have been decorated with such attention to period detail they almost look like a film set, and really contribute to the charming ambience of London's streets. 

Lacquer Chest Too (above), a quaint little antiques emporium on Kensington Church Street was established in 1951 and 'started out selling objects nobody else sold - and still do'. The shop offers a side business in prop hire consisting of a veritable cornucopia of wares covering five floors available for film and photography shoots. Their window features quality, authentic items such as these 19th c ebony dominoes below, displayed with beautiful handmade tags and a loving care distinctly lacking from your local high street.   

John and Jessie's bespoke florist - also on the Kensington Church Street - has a tiny premises but what it lacks in size it makes up for in atmosphere on its inviting shop floor. The interiors burst with stunning orange birds of paradise and bright hydrangeas in rich magenta and delicate lilac hues, all set off with a beautiful vintage wallpaper background (below). The florist's clean black and gold shop front oozes smart London charm, perfectly complementing the cute cafe next door's retro outdoor tables.

Probably my favourite London shop though has got to be the delectable Ottolenghi on Holland Street. One of a chain of four outlets (Notting Hill, Islington and Belgravia being their other upmarket locations), the shop offers a mouthwatering selection of indulgent treats, both savoury and sweet, as well as a range of bespoke gourmet breads and other goodies. The shop window features vintage platters of unusual, pretty cakes such as the lemon, polenta & pistachio friands and succulent handmade coffee or raspberry meringues (below). Ottolenghi always does a cracking Saturday trade, Kensington's poshest residents dropping by for their weekend brunch orders, nervy pugs in tow and enormous Range Rovers illegally parked outside. A constant stream of European tourists and fatwacs stop by too, faces pressed hard against the window, salivating at the gorgeous sweetmeats whilst recoiling in horror at the prices. Quality is expensive, of course, and in this instance it is 100% worth the price!  View Ottolenghi's delicious blog here.

Finally, a little pic of the gorgeous Ann's light shop (below), whose shopfront is always packed with cosy, glowing lamps and vintage light fittings. The shop forms part of a spectacular and much larger historical building (though I'm not certain what period) which gently follows the curve of Kensington Church Street as it snakes its way up towards Notting Hill.  


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