Be a Big Spender!
Hit the “high streets” of London any given day of the week and you'd be right to reckon that shopping is a national pastime here. The Brits do shopping exceptionally well and with a bit of aplomb. Some of the biggest, glitziest and most celebrated department stores in the world call London home. Here's a list of the best of the best, a couple of which are major tourist destinations in and of themselves.
400 Oxford Street, W1A 1AB
Recognized by many as the place in London to have the ultimate shopping experience, Selfridges was even rewarded as the best department store in the world back in 2010. It's the largest department store on the shopper's mecca that is Oxford Street and tis he second largest shop in the whole of the UK, second only to Harrods.
87–135 Brompton Road, SW1X 7XL
For the sheer wow factor scale of it, a visit to this fabled department store cannot be beat. The five acre Harrods has more than 350 departments, six food halls, more than 30 restaurants and eateries and all in all more than a million square feet of retail space. It's also home to the “Dodi and Diana” memorial and the world's only “Egyptian Escalator.”
109-125 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7RJ
Harrods may be home of the “Dodi and Diana” memorial but it's widely acknowledged that Princess Diana's favourite place to shop was just up the street at Harvey Nichols. Known colloquially as “Harvey Nicks” this eight storey department store is for ultra chic and designer brand conscious shopper. But even fashionistas have to take a break and eat sometime. Luckily the store's famed fifth floor is dedicated only to trendy items of the edible and drinkable variety.
Flagship at 300 Oxford Street, W1A 1EX with five other associated stores in Greater London.
“Never knowingly undersold” is the John Lewis policy. The department store holds the Royal Warrant to be the “suppliers of haberdashery and household goods” to the Queen. The flagship Oxford Street John Lewis is as functional as it is attractive and offers quality products at the best price you'll find. The same could be said of all its locations across Britain.
Regent Street, W1B 5AH with the main entrance located on Great Marlborough Street
As famous for its Tudor revival exterior as it is for its ultra stylish take on contemporary fashions, Liberty has been a “destination of choice for the savvy and sophisticated shopper” since 1875. Or as Liberty fan Oscar Wilde put it, “the chosen resort of the artistic shopper.” One especially artistic stockist, Manolo Blahnik likes selling his shoes here as “the store is so beautiful and its history is so rich.”
Fortnum & Mason
181 Piccadilly, W1A 1ER
Open since 1707, this luxury goods provider offers a historic setting for shopping in true British style. Originally a grocery, with food still one of its main focus points, Fortnum & Mason takes great pride is establishing direct connections with its many suppliers with fresh food being sourced from British growers or “as close to these Isles as possible.”
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photo: Chris Osburn