The neighbourhood of South Kensington, bordering on Knightsbridge and Chelsea, is popular for both well-known luxury brands and intimate boutiques.
At The Ampersand Hotel in London, we are perfectly placed to navigate this territory, with well-informed staff who can point you towards what's hot, what's not and the inimitable London addresses Kensington locals try to keep to themselves. For now, here's a sampling of our current favourites - all within a two-to 20-minute walk from our boutique hotel in Kensington.
Harrods: No visit to London is complete without a jaunt around this world-famous palace of a department store. With over 300 departments and 32 restaurants, there is something for everyone here, from furs to picnic hampers. The Food Hall and Christmas departments are musts. At 87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge; www.harrods.com
Harvey Nichols: Like a younger, cooler kid sister to nearby Harrods, Harvey Nichols is eight fabulous floors dripping with exclusive fashion, beauty and lifestyle. A one-stop-shop for international luxury, you can come here to shop or recharge at the Fifth Floor Café. At 109-125 Knightsbridge; www.harveynichols.com
Skandium: Scandi-fever shows no sign of abating in the UK and here's where you'll find your fix of the best in Danish, Swedish and Finnish design, from Marimekko fabrics and iconic Artek chairs to essential Poulsen lamps and cute Moomins breakfast bowls. At 245-249 Brompton Road; www.skandium.com
Wholefoods Market: Wholefoods is the place to find organic food in Kensington. The largest of the hit American brand's UK stores, the range includes great regional cheeses, handmade chocolates, organic meats and all things wholesome. There's also a good cafe upstairs. At 63-97 Kensington High Street, The Barkers Building; www.wholefoodsmarket.com
Conran Shop: There is no better temple to great international design. Set in the deco-fabulous Michelin House building, here's where to find Eames chairs, Original BTC lighting, Philippe Starck knick-knackery and other contemporary classics for your home and garden. At 81 Fulham Road; www.conranshop.com
The Library: Gentlemen of a sartorial bent will love this luxury outfitters, its pared-back, industrial-style interior offsetting a carefully curated selection of contemporary menswear. Labels to look out for include Dries Van Noten, Julius, and Carol Christian Poell. At 268 Brompton Road; www.thelibrary1994.com
Caramel Baby & Child: Parents who like their kids logo-free will love the Caramel style. Relaxed and understated in a muted palate, the range reflects a very British kind of cool, from tweed princess coats and dusky pink cashmere cardies, to soft leather booties and loose cotton grandad shirts. At 41 Paradise Walk; www.caramel-shop.co.uk
Stella McCartney: This is the second London store for the queen of British fashion. Alongside luxury ready-to-wear, kids, accessories, jewellery and fragrances, you'll find the adidas by Stella McCartney range. At Brompton Cross, 91-97 Fulham Road; www.stellamccartney.com
V&A Shop: Gone are the days when the museum shop sold a novelty pencil sharpener. Inspired by its world-class collection, the V&A leads the way in stocking some of the coolest gifts in town, from kitsch egg-cups to fabrics featuring designs from the archives. Cromwell Road; www.vandashop.com
The Monogrammed Linen Shop: The leading luxury linen shop in London, this Chelsea stalwart is known for its fine lace and embroidery, Egyptian cotton, linens and silks, cashmere and luxury nightwear. Choose from the in-house range or create your own bespoke monogrammed linen. At 168-170 Walton Street; www.monogrammedlinenshop.com
The Sampler: Sample some of the world's most unusual and interesting wines at this independent wine merchant, which has over 1500 wines on offer and 80 of them available to sample. At 35 Thurloe Place; www.thesampler.co.uk