Most of the book takes place in various parts of London, the capital of England.
There are very detailed references to the music-halls and theatres in the district known as Theatreland at the heart of the West End. Traditionally, this is defined as the area bounded by The Strand to the south, Oxford Street to the north, Regent Street to the west and Kingsway to the east.
Later, the two girls live south of the River Thames in Brixton. Nan's time with Diana Lethaby is spent in St. John's Wood in northwest London.
The remainder of the story is based predominantly in north and east London, particularly in the East End. There are specific references to places in Islington, the City, Hackney, Whitechapel, Limehouse, Poplar, Bethnal Green.
The early part of Tipping the Velvet takes place largely in the town of Whitstable in Kent. There are numerous references to other towns in Kent, including Canterbury, Chatham, Margate, Dover, Faversham and Rochester.
Whitstable is a coastal town in northeast Kent, about 5 miles from Canterbury. As well as being famous for its oysters and its oyster festival, it is also a popular seaside resort. One of its most distinctive landmarks is The Street, a sandbar accessible at low tide which separates Tankerton and Whitstable and extends about half a mile out into the sea.