From a humble grocery store to the world’s oldest and largest department store, Harrods is an experience you do not want to miss when in London.
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It’s one of the most iconic department stores in the world, but how much do you really know about Harrods? When Patrick first told me he wanted to take me to Harrods, I am not going to lie, I thought “Great…another department store like Neiman or Saks.” But Patrick assured me that Harrods was nothing like other department stores and swayed me to go.
So, what makes Harrods so special? Harrods sells more than just Dior handbags, it also sells artwork by Andy Warhol and Picasso, gold bars embossed with the store logo, hovercrafts, U.S. President’s signatures, GIGANTIC stuffed animals, sushi, antique artifacts and more. Yes, this is Harrods.
I enter and feel like I am in a regular department store as I walk through the first couple of rooms. All I see is perfume sales people pitching me the usual Chanel or latest GA fragrance. A couple of rooms in, I start to notice that the rooms are changing to an Egyptian vibe and architecture. The structure is starting to peak my interest. The rooms were designed by a previous owner of Harrods, Mohamed Al-Fayed, who put several busts of himself in these rooms. Even the escalators had an Egyptian feel.
Fun fact: Harrods had the first ever moving staircase in England.
Turn left and the food halls begin. Now that’s something you don’t see in other department stores. One room is dedicated just to coffee, another to tea and another to chocolates. With over 26 bars, cafés and restaurants throughout the entire property, it’s hard not to find the perfect place to grab a bite.
Harrods is one of the only department stores I know of with a dress code. Introduced in 1989, customers are not allowed in if they are wearing clothing that is too revealing or has offensive pictures or writing, if they are wearing crash helmets, or carrying bags or bag packs on your back or shoulder. Although today these rules are much more flexible, keep them in mind when getting dressed for a day at Harrods.
Speaking about getting all dressed up…Harrods once sold a pair of ruby and diamond encrusted sandals for a whopping price of £62,000 (that’s $83,000) that were guarded by a live cobra! But that wasn’t the only animal present at Harrods. There exotic pet store closed in 2014, but used to sold an alligator to playwright Noel Coward, a lion to a couple of Australians in 1969 and a baby elephant to Ronald Reagan back in 1967.
The most famous animal to have come out of Harrods would have to be Winnie the Pooh. The creator was inspired to create the bear when he saw his child playing with a teddy bear in the “Toy Kingdom” at Harrods. They even have an entire section dedicated just to dogs with their own pet spa. Diamond encrusted collars are sold at in this section, including the most expensive dog collar in the world for £500,000!!!
If I haven’t convinced you to visit Harrods just yet, let the store’s motto seal the deal—“Omnia Omnibus Ubique”—which literally translates to “All things for all people, everywhere.” Yes, they might sell things that no one other than a rich billionaire could afford, but if you look hard enough, you might be able to find a little something for yourself as well. Plus, it’s just entertaining to see what they have to offer. For more on what to do when in London, check out my three day London travel itinerary.
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