From flowers to food, we reveal our favourite markets in the capital.
Best for novices: Rosewood London Slow Food and Living Market & Slow Brunch
Rosewood London first burst onto the scene in 2013, fast establishing itself as one of London’s leading luxury hotels. This year it has caught our eye once again with the opening of it’s Slow Food and Living Market, the only one in London to overtly celebrate good, clean and fair produce from local growers and artisans.
Open from a very civilised 10am the market and based in the hotel’s neo-classical grand courtyard, the market offers visitors a chance to dip their toes into the world of traditional, albeit polished, marketplace shopping.
What’s more, in the ultimate ‘try before you buy’ scheme, three of Rosewood London’s restaurants and bars offer a ‘Slow Brunch,’ incorporating ingredients and wines from the traders outside. Plump for the Mirror Room and set aside a few hours to slowly peruse the various ‘stations’, from charcutuerie and cheese to an enticing pudding bar complete with artisan marshmallows.
Best for flowers: New Covent Garden market
The origins of New Covent Garden Market stretch back to medieval times when the Abbey of Westminster used the land that we now know as ‘Covent Garden’ to sell off surplus produce.
Fast forward a few hundred years and New Covent Garden, now the UK’s largest wholesale market, has come to rest in Vauxhall, via a market square designed by Inigo Jones and an aristocratic owner, the Duke of Bedford, who sold the market and its trading rights in 1918.
Today’s visitors are faced with an early start – the fruit and vegetable market begins trading at midnight and flower stalls open at 4am – but you will be bartering for your wares alongside representatives from all of London’s top 20 restaurants and three-quarters of it’s florists. It is worth a trip for the flowers alone; the selection is vast and you cannot help but be overwhelmed by the explosion of riotous colour.
Best for a farmers market: London Farmers’ Market, multiple locations
Stepping away from the monopoly of supermarkets, taking over the high street, has never been easier, thanks, in part, to the London Farmers’ Market organisation. No longer a rare or novel experience, you can now find a well stocked farmers market in Wimbledon, Walthamstow and everywhere else in between.
The experience will bring you face to face with the farmer, no middle man required, who will have baked, grown or reared everything you buy within 100 miles of the M25. For first-timers log on to the Farmers’ Market website to locate your nearest market and read up on what is in season.
Best for antiques: Sunbury Antiques Market, Kempton Park
Sunbury Antiques Market has gone from strength to strength since it opened with a meager 12 stalls, just over thirty years ago. Now considered to be one of Europe’s finest antique markets, it’s 700 stalls entice traders from all over the continent and visitors from even further afield. Perfect for a piece of mid-century furniture, a craze that is currently sweeping the interiors world off their feet, but stalls also cater for prop buyers, collectors and vintage fashion and jewellery enthusiasts.
Admission is free but due to it’s burgeoning reputation we recommend arriving as soon as the market opens (6am) to ensure you don’t miss a regional specialty from an overseas trader (think Belgian chandeliers) or hidden collectors item.
Best for families: Columbia Road Market
A flower market might not be the obvious way to spend a family centered Sunday but Columbia Road is London’s exception. For starters the market and the length of the street (Columbia Road, unsurprisingly) that it occupies is open from 8am, perfect for young early-risers. Your starting point should be the market itself: an oasis of blooms, bunches and bouquets, which will enchant all. From there you can start to explore the plethora of independent shops, 60 in total, that run alongside the stalls. Rumbling tummies and short attention spans will be more than satisfied by the fantastic delis, cupcake shops, art galleries and vintage clothes stores.