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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrHaving opened its doors from the early 1800s, Harrods is the quintessential English heritage brand and includes amongst its list of loyal patrons, a number of actors, writers, and aristocracy including HRH Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family. Located on the busy Brompton Road at the center of the Kensington district, Harrods grown to be a recognized bastion of luxury and elegance and holds a number of brands including, Céline, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton.
The Harrods that we know and love today, despite being a name synonymous with luxury, actually had quite humble beginnings. In 1849, Charles Henry Harrod opened a small store on the site of the current store, and with only two assistants and a messenger boy, built a successful business selling medicines, perfumes, stationary, and fruit and vegetables and soon after expanded into the two adjoining buildings. By 1880, Harrods had gone from having 3 people under their employ to over 100.
One of the most renowned department stores in the world, Harrods is more of a fashion museum and exhibition space than retail department store. The impressive building has 1 million square feet in selling space and covers 4.5 acres. Within this colossal department store are a number of gilded halls, each one winding through its 330 departments, glittering and gleaming as you walk through, delighting tourists and fashionistas alike.
As well as being a mecca for shoppers around the world, Harrods is also world-famous for the Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed memorials. The first, consisting of two photographs of the couple behind a pyramid-shaped display, a wine glass with the Princess’s lipstick on it, and the engagement ring that Dodi had bought the day before they died, can be found at the bottom of the equally famous Egyptian escalator. The second memorial, unveiled in 2005, is a brass statue of the two dancing on a beach entitled “Innocent Victims”. As you can imagine, they are both a tourist must-see when visiting the store.
In addition to its luxury items, the one thing that people most often comment about when visiting Harrods is its expansive and impressive Food Hall. The Food Hall is unlike anything you've ever seen and stocks a myriad of grocery produce, wines, and prepared foods, all specially selected for their high standard and artisanal qualities. The Food Hall includes fresh produce and foods from all over the world, from Lebanese tabbouleh to Italian cheeses, there is nothing you cannot find here. Whether you’re there to buy something or just gawk at the overwhelming breadth of it, the Food Hall is a must-see when visiting Harrods. As well as having a renowned Food Hall, Harrods is also home to a number of cafés and restaurants, including the popular Ladurée café which serves a selection of renowned macaroons and desserts.
Arguably, Harrods is most in its element during the Christmas season. Throughout the holidays, the store takes on a special kind of feeling, and the counters perhaps gleam a little brighter during this time, however what is most special about Harrods during Christmas is the annual light display it puts on throughout December. The most recognizable of London's Christmas attractions, the Harrods light display uses 12,000 light bulbs and can be seen from most points along the Brompton Road.
The motto of Harrods is ‘Omnia Omnibus Ubique’ meaning “All Things for All People, Everywhere” and this is an ethos that stands true even today. On its busiest days, Harrods welcomes over 100,000 people through its doors, and caters to the most refined tastes in the world. The staff in the department store are usually very helpful, although you may come across the archetypal ‘Pretty Woman Salesgirl’ on your travels, but don’t let that take away from your experience of the store; there are too many beautiful things for you to look at and enjoy!
Located on Brompton Road near Knightsbridge Station, Harrods is near a number of other tourist attractions and places of interest. Across from Harrods is the department store, Harvey Nichols, which also stocks a number of luxury brands as well as high street retailers and merchandise. A number of designer boutiques are also closeby, including Burberry, Prada, and Armani. If shopping begins to take its toll, there are a number of delicious restaurants and cafés nearby that cater to all budgets.
Whether you are a Londoner or a visiting tourist, it is hard not to be attracted to the icon that is Harrods. The feeling of luxury here is unlike anything you may have experienced before. The sumptuous interior and the breathtaking expanse of the store makes this not only a renowned tourist attraction, but also an essential part of the London experience.
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Author: vbasma. Last updated: Sep 23, 2014