Harrods – The store that promises ‘Everything to Everybody Everywhere':
A household name in the U.K. and all over the world the Harrods brand is much sought after by many first-time visitors to London. Whether it be a Harrods Winnie-the-Pooh bear, a Harrods mug or a Harrods shopping bag, many tourists desire something from Harrods as a souvenir of their trip to London. Like many of London’s historical buildings and institutions, Harrods is indeed a London icon.
But Harrods isn’t only for the tourist. For over 160 years, this upmarket London department store has been pampering the British upper-class with their range of luxury goods and services. For the local shopper, Harrods Food Halls are legendary and a source of glorious foods from all over the world.
The world’s greatest department store was established on its current site in 1849 by Charles Henry Harrod, a wholesale grocer. Harrod’s son Charles Digby rapidly grew the business and by 1880 employed 100 staff.
Never one to be bowed by setbacks, not even a devastating fire in 1883, Harrods went on to make all its Christmas deliveries in that year and many since. Whether flying fresh fish to Alfred Hitchcock or embalming Sigmund Freud’s body, the store that promises ‘Everything to Everybody Everywhere’ never fails to deliver.
Much of the architectural additions – including terracotta tiles and Art Nouveau windows topped with a baroque dome – can still be seen by a careful observer. What you won’t see is the original Winnie-the-Pooh. A.A. Milne took that home for his son, Christopher Robin.
Throughout the decades Harrods has housed a funeral service, a lending library, and even sold airplanes and elephants. Today, the selection is possibly larger. The expansion began when the Fayed family acquired the House of Fraser Group (and thereby Harrods) for £615 million ($1.1 billion) in 1985. Another £300 million investment for refurbishment has brought the department store to its current peak. If you need helicopter service for your time in London, Harrods can offer this and Harrods Bank can look after all your private banking needs as well.
In May 2010 Harrods was sold to the Qatari royal family, who have become the fifth owner of Harrods since its creation.
For those looking not merely to buy – but to experience – on any given day you may find opera singers performing at the top of the Egyptian Escalators or a future star serving at one of the counters. Pierce Brosnan once worked in the pharmacy and the original Darth Vader was a fitness consultant in the sports department. There are over 30 eateries in-store so you won’t go hungry here.
While your ‘assistant’ is booking theater tickets, have a facial in the salon or relax at the Irish spa. When you’re done, visit Donatella Versace discussing a new perfume.
But for those who do want to shop… Wow!
In these seven floors, once housing the world’s first escalator, can be found 4.5 acres of… well, everything. And thanks to the 12,000 lightbulbs you’ll have no difficulty seeing it. Even if all you want is a humble drink of cool water, you can have a sip drawn from one of the under-the-site artesian wells. (The deepest is 489 ft, 149 m).
Here you can purchase any of over 300 varieties of cheese or have a unique chocolate drink, such as an Italian ‘suckao’ available from the Chocolate Bar. You could even purchase your own custom-made Madame Tussaud’s waxwork – for a mere £250,000. If you’re on a budget, you can bid for the £20,000 24-karat gold Lindt bunny.
On the way out, since you haven’t any money left, take a look at the extraordinary chandeliers or the specialized jewelry. But be sure to bring your ear plugs and elbow pads. Harrods is full not only of a million square feet of merchandise, but hordes of shoppers and visitors from all over the world.
Harrods is easily accessible via the London Tube (the London Underground subway system). Exit at the Knightsbridge station.
87–135 Brompton Road
London, SW1X 7XL