OMGB > Shopping > Browsing an iconic department store

Browsing an iconic department store

Harrods, London, England

Harrods is one of the world’s most famous luxury department stores. It started life in 1849 as a single room, selling tea and groceries. Nowadays it fills 4.5 acres spread across the seven floors of its impressive site in London’s exclusive Knightsbridge. You’ll find racks filled with glamorous designer clothing, including exclusive collections from designers such as Chloé; fine dining restaurants; exquisite home furnishings; and the world-renowned, celebrity-endorsed Food Hall packed with delicacies from across the globe. Wander through rooms dedicated to jewellery, watches, shoes, perfumes, handbags and homeware and pick up something special to take home in one of Harrods’ iconic green bags.

Day 1: London

Start your day of shopping in Harrods, the world’s most famous department store. Browse racks of the latest in women’s and men’s fashions, from jewellery to couture dresses, drool over the delights on display in the Food Hall (and the handbag department) and take afternoon tea in The Georgian Restaurant; open since 1913, it’s as much of an institution as the shop. Harrods is famously prettiest at Christmastime, when its façade twinkles with thousands of lights.

Selfridges is already one of the world’s most exclusive department stores, but take it to the next level with their personal shopping experience. Spend 2 hours talking through your needs and tastes in the luxurious private shopping area, which has a bar, library and exquisite dressing rooms suites, while a multi-lingual team of curators handpick products just for you. They’ll help you find anything from a limited edition watch to a complete wardrobe overhaul.

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You’ll find The Berkeley hotel in the heart of Knightsbridge, close to Harrods, Harvey Nichols and the designer shops of Sloane Street, so it’s fitting that its afternoon tea has a fashion twist. The ‘Prêt-à-Portea’ changes every six months to keep up with the latest season, so you can eat cakes and fancies modelled on the latest Stella McCartney dress, Prada handbag or Manolo Blahniks. It’s a work of art!

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Complement your bespoke shopping experiences with a stay at The Milestone Hotel. In the heart of Kensington, minutes from the shops and theatres of the West End, The Milestone is renowned for its impeccable, highly personalised service. Their butlers will remember your favourite type of music and how you like your tea – they’ve even been known to retrace the day of one distraught guest to find her lost wedding ring.

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Day 2-3: London

There’s plenty in London to keep even the most dedicated shoppers busy for weeks, so it’s well worth taking the time to explore more of this fabulous shopping destination. Don’t miss  the flagship Burberry store on Regent Street. It’s not just about the clothes here – the design of the store itself is impressive too. The biggest Burberry shop in the world is kitted out with the latest immersive technology, including interactive mirrors.

All seven floors of Hamley’s impressive Regent Street shop are filled with the whirrs, rattles, beeps and whooshes of toys. Hamley’s is the oldest and largest toy shop in the world and has been making children happy from these premises since 1881, although its roots go back to 1760. Watch the toy demos, raid the pick ‘n’ mix or book a personal tour to learn all about the amazing toys – gift bags and cake included!

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Even if you don’t have room in your suitcase for one of the heritage department store’s famous food hampers, be sure to wander the Food Hall and marvel at the beautifully displayed produce, from fresh fruit and veg to mouthwatering stacks of truffles and chocolates. If you only buy one thing, make it some Fortnum’s Famous tea; Fortnum has been selling tea for over 300 years, so it’s safe to say they really know their stuff.

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The tailors of Savile Row are world-renowned for their craftsmanship and skill, and a Savile Row suit is the epitome of sartorial elegance. Make sure you talk to a wide range of Savile Row tailors to find the style that most suits you before you’re expertly measured up for your own tailored suit. After all, you’re investing in a classic piece of clothing that should last a lifetime.

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Day 4: Manchester

Tear yourself away from London’s shopping scene and head to one of Britain’s northern powerhouses: Manchester (2 hours 15 minutes by train, 4 hours by car). This lively northern city is famous for its football, eclectic cultural offering and of course shopping. Start your spree at Manchester Arndale, Britain's largest city-centre shopping complex, and browse over 200 stores where you’ll find all the big brands.

Head to Manchester’s Northern Quarter to find a hotbed of creativity, fledgling fashion brands and lifestyle emporiums. Celebrating the quirky, unique and independent side of shopping, the Northern Quarter is bursting with vintage outlets, bric-a-brac stores, and boutique shops, offering a distinct alternative to the bigger shopping centres.

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Afflecks is a totem of indie commerce located in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, and above all else a fantastic place to shop for anything from top hats to jewellery. There you can find alternative clothing, customised shoes, fashion from across the eras, and creations inspired by icons of the past.

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A key destination for the families of Manchester United and Manchester City football players is Flannels. Wayne Rooney’s wife, Coleen, comes regularly to search out designer labels such as Alice Temperley, Dolce & Gabbana and Marc Jacobs.

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Day 5: Manchester, culture and its football heritage

Explore the city that the legendary football clubs call home while shopping for luxury. If you long for the designer labels, but want to avoid the perils to your purse, head to the Lowry Outlet Centre in Salford, which is three minutes by train from Manchester city centre. There you’ll find the same brands as Flannels; one of north-west of England’s most famous boutique shops, but at around 70% discount. Keep an eye out for Armani, Joseph, Diane von Furstenberg and Malene Birger.

If you have a taste for the finer things, Manchester is the place to go for specialist boutique shops where passionate enthusiasts man the tills. Magma Books specialises in books and magazines on design, graphics, fashion, graffiti, architecture and photography. A place to lose hours browsing the endlessly beautiful and interesting things on offer.

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Formerly the centre of the north-west banking industry, King Street is now a key destination for those who love luxury. Take an amble down this elegant street and you’re likely to find Vivienne Westwood and the designer lingerie shop Agent Provocateur. Fred Perry, an iconic British sportswear brand currently making a comeback, is on Police Street.

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