Where to shop
In amongst the galleries and the British Museum you'll find a nice mix of small bookshops, around Judd Street, and chain stores and cafes in the Brunswick Centre.
Be careful when shopping in Soho as a lot of the shops are wholesale only. That said, some of the jewellers and fabric shops will let you buy regardless. There's also a few fancy dress shops and some newsagents that are very well stocked with magazines.
Head for the adorable Marylebone High Street and you'll find lots of high-end womenswear interspersed with specialist shops which are fun to browse - from homeware to ribbons and buttons to childrens gifts.
There are lots of trendy vintage shops like Beyond Retro around Brick Lane and Commercial Street - but expect to pay for the privilege. There's also record shops like Rough Trade East on Dray Walk and walk south to Whitechapel for saris and colourful fashion.
SPOTLIGHT on Oxford Street
This might be your first port of call but avoid London's most famous shopping street at all costs from Friday afternoon to end of play on Saturday. If you can make it down on a weekday morning, these are fairly peaceful by comparison.
We recommend sticking to the Oxford Circus and Bond Street section as the further East you go to Tottenham Court Road, the more fast food and cheap tourist shops you'll find.
If you're visiting in winter, the first weekend of December has seen Oxford Street pedestrianised to make way for the influx of Christmas shoppers. Plus the Christmas lights around Oxford Street Regent Street and Carnaby Street (switched on by a minor celebrity in November) are always worth a visit.
Selfridges, voted the best department store in the world, has The Shoe Galleries, a Project Ocean campaign in the food hall to save fish being thrown back into the sea and the makeover and mini spa boutique The Powder Room.
Primark. This is situated closer to Marble Arch tube station, on the western stretch of Oxford Street and it's the UK's biggest budget department store. The queues will be horrendous and you really do get what you pay for here. But if you need basics for less than the price of your lunch, Primark is the shop for you.