Harrods Department Store, in Knightsbridge, opened in 1849 when Charles Harrod had a grocery store here on Brompton Road. Harrods has grown to have 330 departments selling luxury goods over seven floors. Its motto is “All Things for All People” which sums up the store pretty well: you can get anything you want at Harrods and carry it away in one of their famous green shopping bags, or buy one of their long-lasting branded totes.
Entering the store is like entering a different world. As you go up on the escalator – Harrods had one of the world’s first escalators installed in 1898 – the ornate decor and opera floating in the air around you (sometimes from a live performer) makes this a special shopping experience. The staff are highly professional and very knowledgeable so ask them for directions or help because a store this big can be quite a maze. Don’t miss the Egyptian room (Ground Floor) installed by Mohamed Al-Fayed – including several statues of himself. His memorial to his son Dodi, who died along with Princess Diana, is also an important part of modern-day Harrods.
Food is an essential part of the Harrods experience as well: the Food Hall on the ground floor has everything you could ever want to eat or drink in sumptuous, mouth-watering displays. Harrods is famous for tea and chocolates and there is a branch of Laduree, the Parisian macaroon company, here. Other restaurants include Caffe Florian (a branch of Venice’s famous café), Godiva chocolate café, The Georgian, Veuve Cliquot Champagne Bar, and even ice cream and pizza, something for everyone.
Harrods has 15 million visitors a year and gets especially busy around Christmas. Avoid Saturdays if you can, midweek during the day is the quietest time for a leisurely look around. And if you’ve forgotten anything, they now have branch stores at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports.