The Best Shops Outside Of London That Are Worth Travelling For

Image courtesy of A.G. Hendy & Co
Image courtesy of A.G. Hendy & Co
Photo of Harriet Clugston
31 August 2016

Obviously, there’s nowhere like London for shopping, but that doesn’t mean you should limit yourself to the M25 area. There’s a whole other world out there, filled with Edwardian-themed home stores, luxury designer outlets, innovative book shops and salvage yards brimming with reclaimed interiors at bargain basement prices. So stretch your metaphorical legs, and take a short trip to one of these fantastic stores in the south of England.

Bailey’s Home and Garden, Herefordshire

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Image | courtesy of Bailey's Home and Garden
Set in a series of converted barns and farm buildings nestled in the English countryside, this rustic home and garden store is regularly touted as being among the best in the country by newspapers and magazines of all descriptions. The beautifully curated stock reflects the excellent taste of the Baileys, the husband and wife team behind the store. One a trained interior designer and the other a furniture designer and maker, everything in their shop (both vintage and new) is handpicked for its beauty, simplicity and craftsmanship, and sourced almost entirely from British suppliers — much of the pieces are bespoke commissions. Meander around the carefully dressed space and you’re sure to find several items you never knew you needed but just have to have. Aladdin’s Cave references are overused, but deserved in this case.

Rise Music, Bristol

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Image | courtesy of Rise Music
The kind of store without which the world would be a poorer place, Rise is an independent mini-chain (there are three, in Bristol, Cheltenham and Worcester) aiming to ‘maintain the spirit of a classic indie record shop’. Records are far from the only thing on offer here, though; a wide range of movies, literature and even vintage clothes can throughout the store, which doubles as a hang-out space thanks to its very own cafe/bar. Rise entertains close links with the indie music industry it serves, and regularly hosts live performances and exclusive vinyl releases, many of which support emerging artists and are free to enter. Besides the gigs, they also host in store DJ sets, film nights, book launches and the Rise Quiz.

Dinky Vintage, Brighton

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Why should adults be the only ones to enjoy the fun of vintage clothing? No reason that this Brighton-based store can think of, apparently. Selling a range of antique and vintage clothing for tots through to teens from the late 18th century right up until the 80s, Dinky Vintage may just be the sweetest boutique we’ve ever come across. Every accessory and piece of clothing has been hand-picked and carefully restored, and they will even specially source any specific items you have in mind.

A. G. Hendy & Co Home Store, Hastings

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Everything about this Edwardian homeware store on the East coast harks back to the under-appreciated beauty of a simpler time. Perhaps, though, it’s not entirely appropriate to speak of beauty — Alastair, the owner and creator of A.G. Hendy,has a rule against anything without a practical purpose entering the store. Sticking to a philosophy that values that which is ‘simple, honest and enduring’, items that ‘are made to last and stand the test of time’, the store is dominated by the unsung heroes of the home; crockery, pans, utensils, tins and lots and lots of stiff brushes. Okay, so maybe it doesn’t sound the most exciting things in the world, but the careful selection and arrangement of the stock in Alastair’s store reflects a long love affair with collecting; as a photographer, the import of his items is of the kind best appreciated by those who spend their lives appreciating the aesthetic impact of the small things, and his curated pieces are akin to props in a dressed set. Alastair also works as a stylist and food writer in London, and travels back on weekends to work as a chef in the attached kitchen and dining rooms, just another quirky facet to this truly unique business.

Bicester Village, Oxfordshire

More than six million people visit this luxury designer outlet complex every year, and has become one of the country’s top tourist destinations — eight in ten of the Chinese visitors that come to London also squeeze in a visit to Bicester Village, a market that is the envy of aspiring developers across London (from Hackney Walk, for instance). Among the revered brands to be found in the village (great pains have been taken to make sure it does actually resemble one) are Prada, Dior, Alexander McQueen and Gucci, alongside more accessible options such as Cath Kidston, Karen Millen, Jack Wills and Hunter.

50 Pingle Drive, Bicester OX26 6WD, +44 1869 366266

#shopping #shoppingday #bicestervillage #sunny #sunday

A photo posted by Natalia Penc (@nataliapenc) on

Garment Quarter, Bristol

Since its founding in 2012, this Bristol store has grown to be a consistent contender in the run downs on the UK’s best stores by the nation’s press. The high-end fashion boutique aims to combine New York’s Garment district with Manchester’s Northern Quarter (clever name, no?), with a strong focus on British design and craftsmanship. Garment Quarter stocks men’s and women’s clothing from a range of well-known designers, including Comme Des Garcons (the Japanese label behind London’s Dover Street Market), Versace, Victoria Beckham, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and Moschino.

Cabot Circus, 25 Penn Street, Bristol BS1 3AU, +44 117 223 2285

NEW SS16 Versace has landed in store. #Versace #GarmentQuarter #Bristol #CabotCircus #MensStyle #MensFashion

A photo posted by Garment Quarter (@garmentquarter) on

Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights, Bath

Hand’s down one of the best independents in the country, Mr. B’s is everything a bookstore should be. Set over three floors in one of Bath’s attractive Georgian buildings, the cosy, inviting store really does try to focus on the ‘pleasure’ of reading. Of the more innovating features is the famous ‘Bibliotherapy Room’; for £80 you can purchase a Mr B’s reading Spa package, which gets you one-on-one time with one of the knowledgeable booksellers, who will learn about your reading tastes over a cup of coffee or tea and a slice of cake, before scurrying off into the recesses of the store and returning with a tower of specially selected books. Included in the price of the ‘spa’ is £55 worth of credit to put towards your recommendations, a Mr B’s mug and a tote bag. It’s personal touches like this that make Mr B’s so special; they also have rentable reading booths for sampling books, free tea and coffee, comfy armchairs in front of a fireplace, toilets plastered with book reviews, and highly personalised book displays. The owners also place a great deal of emphasis on the need to create a community of book lovers to keep their store afloat — a need that is met by a calendar packed with book groups and exclusive, interactive evenings with authors featuring dinner, drinks and live music.

14-15 John Street, Bath BA1 2JL, +44 1225 331155

Image courtesy of Mr. B's Reading Emporium

Image courtesy of Mr. B’s Reading Emporium

Dorton Reclaim, Sussex

This large salvage yard in Sussex is the place to go to for unique, reclaimed pieces for your home or garden. Decorative items and building materials (including radiators, cast iron candle holders, fireplaces, antique lantern cages, and gorgeously ornate doors), are removed from demolition sites and brought to the yard, where savvy shoppers can have a good rummage before they pop up in the vintage interior stores of East London, heavily marked up price tags in tow. The pieces up for grabs may be in need of some TLC, but those prepared to put in the effort will reap the rewards. Some of the more intriguing items recently for sale include a range of church pulpits, stained glass windows, and a red telephone box — sign up for email updates to be kept informed on all the hottest swag.
Station Goods Yard, Station Road, Burgess Hill, RH15 9DG, +44 1444 253333

Pecksniffs, Brighton

British fragrance houses may have been making a comeback in recent years, but Pecksniff’s is not among them — having traded out of its Brighton boutique for over 30 years, this independent fragrance and cosmetic house is a veteran among novices. As well as selling an excellent ready-to-wear collection, Pecksniffs also craft bespoke fragrances and cosmetics — book a fragrance consultation and create your own! They will store your formula allowing you to reorder at a later date; or, if you want to go whole hog, they can develop your scent into a bath and body care range, creating an entire ‘fragrance wardrobe’ for you or as a gift. In more recent years, Pecksniffs opened a nearby Pamper Studio, offering a range of luxury treatments. Best of all, Pecksniffs make a firm promise never to test their products on animals.
45-46 Meeting House Lane, Brighton, BN1 1HB, +44 1273 723292

Fall is in the air on Warren Crescent. My favorite time of the year! #autumnleaves #pecksniffs

A photo posted by Edward Johnson (@glennhawker) on

Windsor Royal Shopping, Windsor

Up to 180,000 people visit this upscale shopping centre each week, drawn by the intriguing array of stores as well as the centre’s distinct look. Windsor Royal Shopping centre can be found opposite the gorgeous Windsor Castle, and is housed inside a Grade II-listed, glass covered Victoria Railway Station. The centre houses over 40 shops; a 7-day-a-week arts and craft market; a great selection of restaurants, bars and cafes; and has retained the majority of its beautiful original features, including cobbled stone walkways, Queen Victoria’s personal waiting room including a model of the stoic lady herself, and the magnificent Jubilee Arch.

5 Goswell Hill, Windsor SL4 1RH, +44 1753 797070

The entrance to Windsor Royal Shopping Centre| © Hec Tate/Flickr

The entrance to Windsor Royal Shopping Centre| © Hec Tate/Flickr