Londonist explores the independent shops worth travelling beyond Zone 1 for.
The Crystal Palace Triangle is just that, a triangle. Bordered by Westow Street, Westow Hill and Church Road, the pleasing central shape makes it easy to explore without getting lost or missing anything. It's just eight miles south of Charing Cross but the difference to the confusing mess of central London makes it seem a world away. There's a fantastic clarity about Crystal Palace, starting with its geography, and spilling out into its vistas. Wondering where you are? Glance down any side street and you're reminded where the rest of London/the south east is bustling away in the distance.
We started our independent shopping odyssey by popping into the perfectly monikered Good Taste. The specialist cheese, charcuterie, beer and wine shop is a haven for foodies everywhere. At the last count, the shop stocked more than 60 cheeses, 300 wines and 200 beers. A recent Facebook update reminds customers they're currently stocking both white and pink port. The friendly staff will offer you tempting tastes of what they've got on offer too. Good Taste, 28 Westow Hill, SE19 1RX
More delicious delis Try Crystal Palace Market, a slightly uninviting fortress-like 'concept' on Church Road. Or Piast, surely one of London's best Polish delis, stocking everything from borscht to baby food.
Smash Bang Wallop
The staff's friendly attitudes in Smash Bang Wallop really warmed our hearts. Owner Liz has created a two-floor treasure trove of beautiful homewares, fashion, jewellery, cosmetics, chocolates and more. It's like a gorgeous, mini department store. We loved the London artworks, the light-up cats and the lovely local gift ideas: the dinosaur mugs are going on our Christmas list. Smash Bang Wallop, 40 Westow Street, SE19 3AH
If you like this kind of thing... Pop over the road to Glitter and Twisted, another great name, another lovely shop. Alongside vintage glass wear and superman espresso mugs, you'll find loads of fun treats, perfect for filling party bags or Christmas stockings. Look out for the London-themed Christmas decorations too.
If you're looking to get your kids a treat, it has to be Papagaio, further along Westow Street. As well as gorgeous baby outfits and newborn gifts, Papagaio stocks kinetic sand, Brio trains and amazing things from the ever-brilliant Djeco range. There's a train set out for little hands to handle, all ready to roll. But best of all is the pocket-money corner: animal masks for 99p, farm animals for 40p and 10 marbles for 75p. We wonder where else in London still offers such quality at those kind of kid-friendly prices. Papagaio, 45 Westow Street, SE19 3RW
We've already written about the brilliant independent bookstore, Bookseller Crow, but we wanted to pop in again to remember just how good it is. The packed front window doesn't really prepare you for the cavern-like interior yawning backwards from the street. There's so much good stuff packed in, with quirky displays and decorations hanging from the ceiling. The children's section is particularly enticing. And who doesn't love a bookshop with a bench inside? Bookseller Crow on the Hill, 50 Westow Street, SE19 3AF
Crystal Palace Vintage
A relatively new arrival on the Triangle, Crystal Palace Vintage does what it says on the tin sign. Under an amazing roof of stained-glass and industrial-looking piping is a sprawling vintage playground, stuffed with homewares, posters, clothes and more. On our visit, we lost a happy half hour browsing coats, hats, shoes, and more, spotting a DKNY dress nestling next to wet-look Vivienne Westwood and some hot pink body con from French Connection. Seriously tempting. Crystal Palace Vintage, 35 Westow Street, SE19 3RW
More vintage brilliance Of course, if you're into vintage, Crystal Palace is packed with top spots for your perusal. We loved Vintagehart (shopping, IN A PUB! What's not to like?) and the slightly bonkers Bambino, a mess of old bomber jackets, shoes, battered suitcases and ramekins we remember from our Nan's house.
The quiet tranquility of Crystal Palace's Picture Palace offered us welcome respite from the Triangle traffic. Packed with beautiful watercolours, prints, sketches and sculpture, this gallery and framers offers an eclectic variety of art from a Bob Marley portrait to ethereal ballerinas and nudes. They also have great local Pissarro prints that you can browse on their website. Picture Palace, 65 Westow Street, SE19 3RW