Nightlife

10 of London's best record shops

© Burak Cingi / Getty Images
Written by Charlie Allenby
The capital is a crate digger's paradise. Here are the must-visit record shops for any vinyl fan.
London's vinyl scene is currently thriving. From left-field jazz specialists to hard-hitting techno spots, and everything in between, the UK’s capital is home to some of the best independent record stores in the world.
Soho was, and still is, the vinyl scene’s beating heart, but a number of new openings in recent years have seen record stores pop-up across the city. We’ve taken a look at the 10 shops that should be on all record collector’s hit lists.

1. Sounds of the Universe

7 Broadwick Street, W1F 0DA | MAP
Although it originally started as a stall in Camden Market, Sounds of the Universe’s owner Stuart Baker made the move to Soho in the early '90s, and hasn’t looked back since. The store is like walking into a physical manifestation of a Gilles Peterson's 6Music radio show, with obscure, older Latin pressings rubbing shoulders with the latest UK funky 12”. But it’s the trove of jazz records that makes Sound of the Universe stand out – expect crates of second-hand rarities and the scene’s freshest releases

2. Casbah Records

320-322 Creek Road, SE10 9SW | MAP
Another London record store that made the jump from market stall to shop was Greenwich’s Casbah Records. Located in Greenwich Market since 1986, Casbah settled in its current location on Creek Road in 2009. The store stocks a range of new releases and goes big on the annual Record Store Day, but is a must for collectors of all things rock, punk and prog. After a rare pressing of The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? Get ready to rock down to the Casbah.

3. Flashback Records

50 Essex Road, N1 8LR | MAP
All three of Flashback Records' stores cover the crate digging bases well, but if you had to choose one, it’s worth making the pilgrimage to Essex Road to visit their flagship and oldest shop, set up in 1997. Upstairs you’ll find the freshest cuts, including a solid selection of 45s, while downstairs has dedicated sections to genres as broad as krautrock, library music and movie soundtracks. Alternatively, take a digital spin around their 14,000-plus collection on their website.

4. Honest Jon's

278 Portobello Rd, W10 5TE | MAP
If Soho is the core of London’s record shop scene, then West London, and Notting Hill in particular, is something of a satellite state. The area surrounding Portobello Market has a wealth of stores, including Rough Trade West and People’s Sound Records. But no trip out west is complete without a visit to Honest Jon’s. The shop specialises in jazz LPs, reggae 45s and a broad selection of music from all corners of the world – you never know what gems you might stumble upon. And, if you’re in the King’s Cross area, it has recently opened a second branch in Coal Drops Yard.
NEXT: Discover more places for shopping, dining and clubbing in West London at Keys To Your City.

5. Kristina Records

The Cause, Down Lane Studios, N17 9LZ | MAP
Formerly based in the heart of Dalston, Kristina made the move out to Tottenham Hale in 2018 to nightclub and events space The Cause. Its latest iteration looks as stylish as the last, with crates made from OSB, an integrated decks and mixer set-up to test out some 12”s, and a couple of turntables where you can to try before you buy. Owner Jason Spinks always manages to get in a wide selection of dance floor-ready releases in, from disco to downtempo ambient, and you’re sure to come away with a new favourite on each visit.

6. Phonica

51 Poland Street, W1F 7LZ | MAP
Phonica has been doing its thing since 2003, offering up some of the best dance music going to amateur and internationally renowned DJs alike. The shop’s manager Simon Rigg has always been quick to champion new sounds, and you’ll be able to find some essential wax regardless of the BPM or genres you like to play – be it Italo disco, rave or afrobeat. The store also puts on some amazing live events, with DJs such as Louie Vega, Auntie Flo and Detroit Swindle all recently gracing its decks.

7. Love Vinyl

5 Pearson Street, London E2 8JD | MAP
One of the newer shops on our list, Love Vinyl opened its doors in 2014. But just because it’s a relative newcomer doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the chops of some of the city’s more established hangouts – it’s owned and run by the esteemed selectors David Jarvis and Roual Galloway, plus legends of the London record store scene Zafar Chwodry (formerly of Reckless Records) and Jake Holloway (former owner of Walthamstow’s Village Vinyl). David and Roual manage the new releases, while Zaf and Jake deal with the vintage side of things, and there are even two counters in the store to keep things nice and separate. Buying from both during your visit isn’t compulsory, but often can’t be helped.
NEXT: Discover more places for shopping, dining and clubbing in East London at Keys To Your City.

8. Rough Trade East

Old Truman Brewery 91, Brick Lane, E1 6QL | MAP
Yes, the independent chain’s Ladbrooke Grove spot is better for the more discerning crate digger, but Rough Trade East earns its place on London’s best record shops because of its commitment to a weekly line-up of in-store shows and signings. The brand’s flagship store has hosted everyone from Blur to Unkle, and all you need to do to get up close and intimate with your favourite artists is buy a record. It has a coffee shop too, so you can get your caffeine and vinyl fix at the same time.

9. Rye Wax

The CLF Art Cafe, 133 Rye Lane, SE15 4ST | MAP
Rye Wax has been serving up solid selections to Peckham and the wider area ever since it opened its doors in 2014. Located within The CLF Art Cafe in the Bussey Building event space, the record store stocks everything from techno deadstock to funk re-pressings – just don’t expect to find any chart releases. It also has an emphasis on local produce, so go in search for pressings from South London labels such as Rhythm Section and Yam Recordings.

10. Vinyl Pimp

14 Felstead Street, London E9 5LT | MAP
While some of the stores on this list started out at markets and record fairs, Vinyl Pimp began exclusively on the online record marketplace Discogs in 2007 before making the jump to the real world. The main talking point of its Hackney Wick space is the 12-foot high ‘Great Wall of Vinyl’, but don’t worry, the collection has been catalogued digitally too so you don’t have to break out the stepladder if you want to check it all out. The store is solely second hand, but it is a real treasure trove where you could spend hours flicking through its thousands of records. Also, if you’re looking to shift some wax, the store’s owner Man Hon Luk will be happy to take it off your hands.
NEXT: Discover more of the capital's best bars, clubs, food spots and local secrets at Keys To Your City London.