The Best Unusual Gift Shops in London
Whether you’re looking for wedding anniversary gifts, Christmas gifts, handmade gifts, birthday gifts, or the best London souvenirs, these unusual shops will have everything you need to thrill that special someone.
Some are better givers than receivers: those with a natural knack for finding the perfect item for a loved one or charming appropriate offering to a boss never have to experience the gut-ripping crisis the rest of us endure when confronted with a similar scenario. For the rest of us poor souls, sprinting to the local petrol station to pick up some fire lighters, dodgy flowers, and bottle of blossom hill just before a party is usually the best we can manage. There also exists a rare breed in between the two: the novelty gift givers (because there is never a time when a well-placed whoopi cushion or inflatable sex doll is not funny). However, thanks to the eccentric nature of London there are some incredible London gift shops that are ideal for unusual presents which always go down well. So take note and get ready to finally become that irritating person who trumps every else’s gifts at your next celebratory gathering.
Hoxton Street Monster Supplies
This ghoulish store was set up by fed up were-wolves, witches and vampires who realised there was a gap in the market for everyday essentials such as salt made from tears of sorrow, canned terror, and cubed earwax. Everything in the store is monster-themed and beautifully packed in the store’s own sleek, minimal designs. They stock mainly entertaining edible items and the appeal is so broad that everything is equally appropriate for adults and children. One of the best gift shops London has by far.
159 Hoxton Street, London, N1 6PJ (closed Sundays and Mondays)
Lomography Gift Shop
Lomography is an accessible analogue photography shop run by those with a real passion for the activity. They cater to hobbyists, professionals and are more than happy to help those who have never properly tried their hand at it before. As well as being a shop they also run their own magazine and regular competitions. Their camera accessories add to the idea that in the wake of the digital era these temporal tools are truly things to be treasured. Accordingly, hand-crafted velvet camera bags are a wonderful finishing touch to present an entire set to your lucky recipient. This is best for bigger gifts that guarantee hours of fun for non-creatives and years of passion for those with a prior leaning towards documentation.
3 Newburg Street, London, W1F 7RE
Blade Rubber Stamps
It seems anachronistic to use rubber stamps outside the realm of bureaucracy, but I guarantee that as soon as you’re presented with an assortment of entertaining stamps, you’ll somehow find a way to use them at every possible opportunity (they’re particularly good for signing off on personal letters or cards instead of a signature). They have more stamps to choose from than you could imagine at this London gift shop, but more excitingly also offer custom stamps: just email them your design and they’ll happily create it. I’d recommend Blade Rubber Stamps for children, arts and crafts enthusiasts, and those who like to engage in regular letter correspondences.
12 Bury Place, Bloomsbury, London, WC1A 2JL
This store is one of the last in London which exclusively sells antique prints. They cater to every budget from those who want to casually spend a tenner on something fun from their bargain bin to serious collectors willing to spend thousands of pounds on rare natural history and fine art prints. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that all antique prints depict dull landscapes, kitsch Victorian animals, and battleships- their selection of grotesques, political caricatures, medical subjects, and architectural studies means that you’re guaranteed to find something stimulating for even the most difficult of recipients. They even have an entire section dedicated to outrageous Rococo wigs. They’re perfect for London gift ideas ranging from house-warming gifts, those into interior design, or those with poor taste who just won’t take the damn hint.
19 Shelton Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9JN
The most famous taxidermy shop in the UK, Get Stuffed have a constantly changing inventory and thankfully stock only high-quality taxidermy (you won’t find any ill-looking foxes playing badminton here). A majestic owl or bird will thrill anyone with a love of both feathered things and the morbid, or go all-out and surprise someone with a giraffe, wolf, or lion (good luck wrapping the latter).
Do be sensitive with this one as some animal lovers may not appreciate the sentiment, though those who do will have a life-long piece of décor to cherish.
105 Essex Road, London, N1 2SL
Jam Candle Shop
It’s hard to go wrong with a candle, though sometimes you just don’t bloody feel like spending £80 on a double-vanilla-jasmine-orphan-tear mix in sterling silver encasement for Christ’s sake. These candles are beautifully scented and surprising. In keeping with the millennia-old tradition of finding things that are other things that are made to look like a different thing but are, in fact, another thing really entertaining, these candles look exactly like wonderfully crafted home-jams but are actually delightful candles. These really have universal appeal: to add an extra layer of surprise, I would recommend sticking your own jam labels to the side (bonus points if you use a rubber stamp as a logo).
The Apple Market (Covent Garden), The Market, London WC2E 8RF (open Tuesdays-Sundays)
The Finishing Touch: Shepherds London
Shepherds is by far the best paper and wrapping store in London. Usually the reserve of professional artists, book binders, and designers, they have large sheets of the world’s highest quality papers for sale. Here you’ll find papers woven with rose petals, traditional Japanese designs usually only found on kimonos, delicate marbled Italian papers, and even entire vellum skins (treated sheep skins used to make medieval manuscripts and facsimiles). They also sell envelopes, stationary, ribbon and artisan cards. If you feel like going the extra mile with your wrapping, Shepherds London is the place to go.
30 Gillingham Street, London, SW1V 1HU