Around & about

Christmas Shopping with Culture


Criss-Crossing London to find the perfect gift for that special someone, or maybe just in need of some time out from the hustle and bustle of the high street? Why not step into one of London’s museums - they’re the perfect spot to discover a range of unusual gifts, whilst unwinding with a little culture and treating yourself to a well-deserved coffee or lunch break.  Here's our survival guide for the perfect way to combine shopping with a touch of culture at four distinctive London locations, either over lunch or at the weekend. 

© The Wallace Collection

West End | The Wallace Collection

If you're heading to Oxford Street in search of inspiration, step into another age by visiting The Wallace Collection. Located just behind Selfridges in Manchester Square, this elegant museum is set within an historic London Town house and showcases sumptuous displays of period paintings, porcelain and furniture, exhibited to evoke the atmosphere of a private collection. See their website here to discover the Top Ten Things to view during your visit and to find out more about their opening times and varied seasonal events programme this winter. Set within a stunning interior courtyard and serving breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, The Wallace Restaurant is the perfect location to recover from retail fatigue, whilst The Wallace Collection Bookshop is the ideal place to track down art related guide books and monographs as well as high quality prints and canvases taken from the Wallace Collection itself.

© The Wallace Collection, photographer Liam Jackson


Kensington Gardens | The Serpentine Gallery

If contemporary art is more your style, drop into Hyde Park’s lakeside Serpentine Gallery.  Beautifully placed for an energizing stroll through the Gardens and nearby Hyde Park, this Gallery  is showcasing a free presentation of technology themed artwork by American artist Wade Guyton.  On the hunt for an artwork or art book?  The shop features Serpentine Editions, exclusive works by leading and emerging artists, architects and designers created especially for the Serpentine, products are also available via their online shop.  In addition, for bookworms, the Gallery is also home to Koenig Books at the Serpentine Gallery, the main London Branch of Walther Koenig Books Ltd, Europe’s leading independent bookshop, stocked with a wide international stock of titles on modern and contemporary art, photography and architecture.  If you’re in need of refreshment, there are plenty of cafés nearby, or you could treat yourself to a visit to The Magazine Restaurant, the Gallery’s sumptuous dining destination.  More details, including opening times, at


Knightsbridge | The Victoria & Albert Museum

Looking for a touch of luxury in and around Knightsbridge? You can always head to the Victoria & Albert Museum. Just five minutes' walk from Harrods and Harvey Nichols, this art and design related Museum houses a permanent collection alongside temporary displays, and also provides an internationally recognized resource for the study of architecture, furniture and fashion. Located in three period rooms, The V&A Café is the world's oldest museum restaurant, perfect for relieving any unwanted shopping stress. Don't forget to visit their beautiful shop which stocks a wide range of exclusive gifts including jewellery, fabrics, prints and fashion.  Entry to the permanent displays within the Museum is free, find out more about opening hours and what's on by visiting


Knowledge Quarter | British Library

Keen to uncover creative treasures? Head East from campus to London’s celebrated Knowledge Quarter, home to the The British Library and its incredible range of displays including ancient manuscripts and historic documents.  Drop by to see and hear `Listen : 140 Years of Recorded Sound’, a free display celebrating the invention of the phonograph in 1877.   More time or out with the family? `Harry Potter : A History of Magic’ uncovers a series of rare books, manuscripts and magical objects including original drafts by J.K. Rowling on public display for the first time, ticket pricing information here.   The British Library is also a great place to stock up on Christmas essentials including unusual Christmas cards and luxury Christmas crackers. If you feel in need of refreshment, there's a choice of places to eat and drink, including several coffee shops, Kings Library Café and The Rotunda Bar.  Find out more, including details of opening times by visiting

Image: A phoenix rising from the ashes in a 13th-century bestiary © British Library

We’d love to hear more about your visits to London museums, share your finds in and around Paddington, why not tweet us @PaddingtonCen #PaddingtonWINTER