1. John Lewis
John Lewis & Partners (formerly John Lewis) is one of the UK’s largest chains of 51 high-end department stores operating throughout Great Britain and internationally in the Republic of Ireland and Australia.
Since its founding in 1864 by John Lewis, the chain has sold the slogan “will always match at least the lowest price offered by a national street competitor .” It also has the Royal Order of Guarantee of the Queen as suppliers of household and luxury items.
You can find a wide range of products in these department stores, ranging from clothing, haberdashery, perfumeries, decoration, appliances, toys, food, and alcohol, from well-known brands such as Chanel Apple, Ralph Lauren, and LEGO.
The John Lewis & Partners Christmas advertisement is an annual tradition in British culture and one of the signs that the countdown to Christmas has begun in the UK.
Address: 300 Oxford St, Marylebone, London W1C 1DX
2. Liberty London
Liberty department stores are one of our favourites and visiting them is a real experience. It is located between Regent Street and Carnaby Street, one of the most popular spots in Soho, and a real architectural spectacle.
The store was built in 1924 with the wood of two English destroyer ships (the HMS Impenetrable and the HMS Hindustan) in an architectural style known as false Tudor that mimics 16th century English buildings.
Its founder Arthur Liberty was a shop apprentice at a Farmer & Rogers women’s fashion store when he witnessed the first World’s Fair in London in 1851 and became fascinated by Japanese art and design.
His enthusiasm for all things Japanese convinced the owner of Farmer & Rogers to buy all the available stock from the show and thus create an Oriental Warehouse department in his store.
Among all the products they offered, the kimono was the flagship product and aroused the interest of hundreds of women from the British and European aristocracy, causing great benefits for the store owners who decided to promote Arthur as the store manager.
After 10 years as a manager and seeing the success of the Kimono sales, Liberty applied to become a partner in the store but was rejected and encouraged by friends (and with £ 2,000 borrowed from his father-in-law), he opened his own store – East India House – across the street. The workshop was a success, and Liberty could pay off its debt in just eighteen months and raise enough money to expand the business.
Although it is not a cheap store, we are dealing with an institution in London. Liberty has its own print and sells fabrics by the meter.
On the upper floors, you can enjoy many rooms with fireplaces that give it the homely character that its founder intended, who wanted the client to feel at home.
Address: Liberty, Regent St, Soho, London W1B 5AH
The Harrods of London, which opened in 1835, was the first of London’s department stores founded by tea dealer and grocery wholesaler Charles Henry Harrods.
The original store opened in Stepney but moved to the original location in 1849. When the neighbourhood was a semi-rural area on the outskirts of London, its opening helped develop the neighbourhood into one of the most desired in the British capital.
The current building is a large-scale reconstruction of the original building dating from 1889 after it was raised from its own ashes from the great fire.
Since its opening, the Harrods had changed ownership several times and is currently owned by the Royal Family of Qatar after paying £ 1.5 billion to the previous owner Mohammed Al-Fayed.
Harrods Escalators: The Harrods of London is privileged to have installed the world’s first escalators in 1898. It seems that initially, the staircase disturbed customers, and to encourage them to use it, they were given a brandy at the end of the journey.
Precisely the spectacular decoration of these escalators, with balconies, columns, engravings, and sphinxes in the purest ancient Egyptian style, is one of the main reasons why you have to visit these department stores.
Harrods Food Hall: The Food Hall Harrods has a beautiful decor inspired by the British colonial era with works by the famous British painter of the early twentieth century, William James Neatby.
In this area, you can find several restaurants, top quality food, take away food, and also a vast area dedicated to the sale of chocolates and pastries.
Address: Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL
4. Fortnum & Manson
Fortnum & Mason is a department store established in 1707 and an entire British institution, which owes its reputation for its high-quality products and has been a supplier to the royal family for the last 150 years.
Considered the mecca of tea, at Fortnum & Manson, you can also find a wide range of sweets and chocolates apart from high-quality food and wines in their Food Hall.
Although it is not a particularly cheap store, it is well worth taking a walk inside to enjoy the decoration and buy typical products, especially tea and chocolates, impeccably packaged and perfect for gifts.
It also has a bar and a restaurant where you can try some of its wonderful wines, eat or drink the typical Afternoon Tea.
Fortnum & Manson began by catering to the British Court with delicate and luxurious ready-to-eat recipes during its inception. Quickly his fame began to spread among the aristocracy, even supplying meals at such important events as the Ascot horse races.
These events contained various food products such as stilton cheese, champagne, and smoked salmon, ingredients still very popular among the British upper classes and indispensable in their Christmas baskets.
Even during the Napoleonic Wars, he supplied dried fruit, spices, and other preserves to the British troops. Even Queen Victoria, his main client, commissioned him to supply several ships with beef tea to the Florence Nightingale hospitals during the war of Crimea.
Address: 181 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London W1A 1ER
Selfridges is considered the father of contemporary department stores. Have you ever heard the expression, “the customer is always right”? Well, it was its founder Harry Gordon Selfridge who made it famous throughout the world.
The basis of its success was its relentlessly innovative marketing. She tried to make shopping a fun adventure and form of leisure rather than a chore, transforming department stores into a social and cultural place where women could feel comfortable.
Selfridges is currently one of London’s leading department stores, located on the popular Oxford Street shopping street. In them, you can buy clothes, accessories, and makeup from luxury and semi-luxury brands.
They have also opened a section for the famous FAO Schwarz toy store that became world-famous in the movie Big. It also has several restaurants, cafes, and a Big Rooftop Tea with a mini-golf.
This shopping center is a must-visit during November and December for its spectacular Christmas decorations, with original shop windows and special offers.
Address: Selfridges, 400 Oxford St, Marylebone, London W1A 1AB
6. Harvey & Nichols
Harvey Nichols, founded in 1831, is a British luxury department store chain that offers collections of men’s and women’s fashion, fashion accessories, beauty products, wine, and food.
It is currently based in several British cities such as Leeds, Manchester, and Bristol and internationally, such as Hong Kong, Istanbul, Dubai, and Kuwait. However, London’s flagship store is in Knightsbridge, a few blocks from its rival Harrods.
The building consists of seven floors offering men’s and women’s fashion collections, fashion accessories, and on the top floor, there is a cafe, bar, restaurants, and wine shop.
It also has its beauty area where you can find personal shoppers, spa, hairdressers, manicure and pedicure services, henna tattoo artists, accessories arrangements, and a place adapted for events.
Address: Harvey & Nichols, 109 – 125 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7RJ United Kingdom
7. Westfield Shepherds Bush Shopping Center
Westfield is a shopping center that can be found in White City, Hammersmith, and Fulham. It was inaugurated with an area of 150,000 m2 (equivalent to 30 soccer fields) on October 30, 2008, and became the largest shopping center in the capital. In 2018 it was expanded to 240,000 m2 making it the largest shopping center in Europe in March 2018.
Westfield London is an ideal place to shop and eat. It has more than 265 stores from more than 15 different countries, around an enclosed space through a spectacular glass dome and a pedestrian area “Southern Terrace” full of restaurants for all tastes and pockets.
The expansion included a high-end commercial area called The Village that includes brands such as Burberry, De Beers, Georg Jensen, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Mulberry, Myla, Tiffany & Co, and Versace.
The shopping center also features a state-of-the-art 14-screen cinema, spa, gym, and new transport links to make Westfield London the UK’s best-connected shopping destination.
Address: Westfield London, Ariel Way, Shepherd’s Bush, London W12 7GF, United Kingdom
8. One New Change Shopping Center
The New One Exchange is a modern office building and shopping center located in the heart of the City of London (the only one in this area). It is right in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral, in one of the historically associated areas of the City with retail and markets, as the adjacent street names recall.
It has around sixty stores, several restaurants, among which the Bread Street Kitchen of the famous British chef Gordon Ramsay would stand out.
It is open seven days a week, which is notable since most of the City’s shops and restaurants close on weekends.
From the public terrace on the top floor, you can enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the Cathedral and the City and have a cocktail.
Its location opposite St. Paul’s Cathedral and its modern design by architect Jean Nouvel caused some controversy during its planning and construction, including criticism from Prince Charles, who dubbed it “the stealth bomber.”
Address: 1 New Change, London EC4M 9AF
9. Westfield Stratford Shopping Center
The Westfield Stratford City is a large shopping center with over 250 shops and 70 restaurants, a bowling alley, a casino, and a cinema with 17 rooms. It is one of the largest urban shopping centers in Europe and the fourth largest shopping center in the United Kingdom.
Open since 2011 and with visits to the Olympic Park, Westfield Stratford City was part of one of the largest urban regeneration projects ever undertaken in the UK in the wake of the 2012 Olympics.
Address: Westfield Stratford, Montfichet Rd, London E20 1EJ
Debenhams is a British multinational with department stores in the UK and Ireland itself and franchises in other European countries. Founded in the 18th century as a business in London, it currently has 178 stores.
It sells fashion clothing, household items, furniture, electronics, gifts, and objects designed by the company itself, marketed under the brand name “Designers at Debenhams.”
Address: 334-348 Oxford St, Marylebone, London W1C 1JG