#ShopInYork | Hidden Gems of York

A view of york at night (bootham bar)

I’ve been meaning to write a post all about York for a long time. Like a really long time. As in, it was one of the first ideas I had when I started the blog, that I would include things about hidden places you could find in Newcastle (where I was at uni) and York, my nearest home city. And clearly it’s taken me just a little while to get to that point! Nevertheless, no better time than the present, especially since I’ve recently, over the past year, discovered a few more places that I wouldn’t hesitate to add to my list of hidden gems and the best places to visit in York. I’ve tried to include a bit of a mixture of places, mostly focusing on independents rather than the usual high street places, but there are always going to be ones I miss out and places I haven’t yet been either, but these are a few of my favourite places to go in York.

bowler vintage

Bowler Vintage

Bowler Vintage is basically the vintage bomb. The bottom floor has enough vintage menswear to shake a stick at, and upstairs houses two rooms of women’s clothing, both authentic vintage and modern repro brands such as Collectif and Hell Bunny. Since I love both pin up and real vintage, it’s a real gem for me. A few things can be a little on the pricey side, but it’s fair enough when you consider what you’re getting. There are a couple of other vintage shops in York, but this one is definitely my fave. It’s located on Fossgate, a little road just opposite the side entrance to M&S, so very central.

yorkshire soap company

Yorkshire Soap Company

The Yorkshire Soap Company is a shop I came across only recently, probably less than a couple of years ago, and fell in love with. They sell all sorts of different soap (surprisingly!) in gorgeous forms including cupcake shapes, slices of cake, pretty little bath bombs and barrels filled to the brim with bath salts. The shop itself is on Blake Street (turn right out of Stonegate) and is beautiful inside, with big windows at the front, wooden floorboards and pretty music playing within.

The Imaginarium

The Imaginarium sort of comes under the heading of the Yorkshire Soap Company as it’s a store owned by the same company but is nothing alike it. The tagline is “Fall down the rabbit hole and discover a world full of magic” and describes it pretty much perfectly. It’s impossible to describe, but is packed with unusual and unique pieces, similar to a Victorian curiosity shop with plenty of hints towards Alice in Wonderland. It’s the ideal place for finding gifts for people who are difficult to buy for, but is also amazing just to browse. It’s located right next door to the Yorkshire Soap Company, so make sure to do a two in one stop there.

Monks Cross

This is a funny one as it’s not quite a hidden gem, but apparently a lot of people from outside York don’t know about Monks Cross. Essentially it’s a shopping park outside the city, but is full of a mix of high street stores, from the typical Topshop, New Look and Clarks to Laura Ashley, T K Maxx and Rodgers of York, and we’ve also got a Primark on the way! (I’d imagine the excitement for Primark is limited to people from around York, as we don’t have one anywhere near us!). It’s also awesome because it means that we don’t have to find a way to get all the way into York to visit all the main shops – York is a complete maze (due to it being a Roman city) and is pretty expensive to park in, so I either stay outside the city or use a Park & Ride bus. I was just thinking how difficult it must have been before Monks Cross existed – I remember it being built and us all being so excited about it! It was awesome when I was a young teenager as we were allowed to go into the shops with friends by ourselves while parents stayed around the other shops as it wasn’t in the centre of the city, win!

Vangarde Shopping Park

Another similar one – the Vangarde park opened up just a couple of years ago and is, in my head, part of Monks Cross. It’s not massive but opened up Monks Cross as a destination a little more as it’s home to a few more restaurants including Giraffe, Nandos and Prezzo, and the main shops, a massive M&S, Next and John Lewis. It’s definitely not helped with my obsession with Next homeware!

Fletchers Fabrics

Unfortunately, my little area of North Yorkshire isn’t the best place to be a sewing addict, as our fabric shops are few and far between! Luckily, the first place I discovered to buy fabric is a pretty awesome one: Fletchers Fabrics. It’s located outside the city centre again, on Clifton Moor, so is a lot easier to get to. The city centre however doesn’t have any proper sewing or fabric shops weirdly – I feel like York would be a really good place for fabrics but seemingly not.

York Antiques Centre

Back to the city centre again, this is one place I could spend hours – the York Antiques Centre. It’s down the gorgeous little street of Stonegate and is completely packed with antiques. The vast majority of the floor you enter into is jewellery and similar in glass cases – there must be thousands and thousands of pieces in there! Then downstairs is a small room with a few antique/vintage clothes, plus other antique bits and pieces. It can get fairly crowded in there as people try to look in all the cases, but there are some beautiful pieces.

Thomas the Baker

I couldn’t not include this one, could I?! For those that don’t know, this is my family’s business selling all sorts of yummy bakes from bread to biscuits and cakes and everything in between. It’s a Yorkshire based company, meaning you won’t find the shops anywhere else in the country, so make sure you stop in to one of them while you’re there. I can vouch for the fact that everything is made to the highest standard, mostly with homemade recipes (and I get to test them sometimes!), fresh out of the local craft bakery in Helmsley. There are a few shops around the city including Kings Square, Market Street and Lendal.

York Designer Outlet

The York Designer Outlet has been around years, in fact it was the other place (aside from Monks Cross) where I was allowed to shop when I was younger under more relaxed supervision. It’s home to several, you guessed it, designer brands at discounted prices, but what I go there for aren’t the designer pieces, rather the discounted Body Shop, the Lindt shop and the Cadburys shop – yes I’m aware that’s mostly chocolate, but there you go!

Header image courtesy of PhotoEverywhere.co.uk


  1. October 28, 2015 / 3:57 pm

    Oh wow… this makes me want to go back and see all the places I missed when I visited York (for the first time) with friends a couple of years ago!! It was such a beautiful city, I loved it! I must say, I’m desperate to go to the Imaginarium now. It sounds amazing!! Considering I am a Yorkshire lass, I don’t know much about it! I have a good excuse though, having left when I was ten to move to Portugal! 🙂
    Suzy x

    • Sian Thomas
      October 29, 2015 / 3:32 pm

      I’m sure there are SO many things I’ve missed off this list too – there will be other amazing places! That definitely is a good excuse for not knowing much about York though 😀

  2. June 10, 2016 / 11:46 am

    Thanks Sian, this is great! Bowler will be a definite stop I think, and the Antiques Centre, and def the Imaginarium too! We’re not really going for shopping as such, but I reckon these are as much tourist attractions as they are shops! 😀 x

    • Sian Thomas
      July 6, 2016 / 12:01 pm

      I LOVE Bowler Vintage so much and can spend hours in the Antiques Centre 🙂 Hope you have fun!

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