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Which Iconic London Department Store Are You?

London is famous for many things: the beautiful Hyde Park, countless impressive museums, food, culture, and of course shopping! At Totally Tailored, we make it easy to navigate the huge array of shops this city has to offer. Before visiting us in London, get acquainted with the many famous department stores to see which one you identify with the most.

Harrods – The Jet Setter

Photo Courtesy of Harrods

Arguably the most famous department store, Harrods, opened in 1824 as a general merchant store. Since then, it has become one of the most recognizable stores in London and is famous for its high-end fashion, impressive food halls, and Egyptian Escalators. Harrods was actually the first building in England to have a working escalator. The escalator’s first riders were given brandy for their nerves, as it was seen as very scary at the time! Harrods spans five acres large, which includes three hundred and thirty different departments, making it the largest department store in Europe. From beauty to books to fashion, they truly have it all. Because of its sheer size, Harrods can be one of the most overwhelming department stores. While it is exceptionally iconic, the shopping experience can get hectic as it has fifteen million visitors yearly. An awe-inspiring feat to explore, it’s best described as a museum of current fashion, art, and food. Worth visiting to get the experience of seeing it for yourself, but prepare to face large crowds!

Tour guide tip:
We advise getting there in the morning when the crowds are at their smallest.

Selfridges – The American Businessman

Photo Courtesy of Selfridges

Another iconic and well-known department store in London is Selfridges. Selfridges has the perfect blend of both expensive and affordable everything! Truly a massive store, they have every category of an item available: luxury goods, their accessories hall, women’s and men’s wear, and even a cinema. Selfridges was founded in 1909 by Harry Gordon Selfridge, an American businessman from Chicago who dreamt of creating the perfect store. He is known to have coined the famous saying, ‘the customer is always right.’ His legacy remains today, as the store feels most catered to American shopping interests and efficiency. Make reservations and enjoy a fabulous lunch at Alto, a delicious Italian rooftop restaurant only accessible by a special elevator. Or browse the spectacular food and desert halls jam-packed with every kind of food imaginable. Selfridge’s size is comparable to Harrods, but it feels refreshingly smaller and spacious as you wander around.

Tour guide tip:
We advise getting there in the morning when the crowds are at their smallest.

Liberty – The Eccentric Aunt

Photo Courtesy of Liberty

While still very large, the Liberty department store offers the feeling of a quaint and curated store. Liberty department store can be best described as curated, exotic, and bohemian. Best characterized as the eccentric aunt, this is the perfect store to locate a unique (yet still luxurious) gift that you wouldn’t expect. Oscar Wilde described the Liberty department store as “the chosen resort of the artistic shopper.” The building itself is crafted from the wood of two ancient battleships, and the store was initially constructed to sell textiles. Liberty has created its brand highlighting its textile origins by creating purses, pajamas, and even workout clothes in various fun patterns and prints. A great way to shop around London is to wander the cozy rooms while discovering countless fantastic items you didn’t know you needed.

Tour guide tip: watch Cruella, the live-action Disney original, where Liberty has a starring role.

Fortnum & Mason – The Duchess

Photo Courtesy of Fortnum & Mason

Fortnum & Mason is a beautiful shop to explore for all the best treats. Founded in 1707, they have had their Piccadilly store for over three hundred years. This department store was Queen Elizabeth II’s personal grocer (which you can still visit on the store’s bottom floor). Explore every assortment of jams, jellies, crackers, teas, and chocolates. Because of their limited space, essentially a department store in a large Georgian townhouse, they must be very selective on what they choose to display. There is no clothes department, only accessories. Also very well known for their marvelous wicker gift baskets, the perfect gift to send to someone. They have great international shipping, especially to America! Spend time getting yummy treats to snack on after you enjoy an elegant afternoon tea in their Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon. Sit back and enjoy the perfect cup of tea paired with delectable tea sandwiches, scones, and desserts. The desserts served at the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon were Queen Elizabeth II’s favorites. Fortnum is the perfect department store to get all your holiday gifts for friends and family while you are visiting. The entire store feels very regal and royal, the ideal place to have high tea to feel like the Queen!

Tour guide tip: for lunch on the go, head to the food hall and pick up a warm Scotch egg which Fortum claims to have invented in 1738. It’s one of the best in London.

We organize private Fashion and shopping tours so you can go home with that perfect souvenir. Click here to book with options for a chauffeured vehicle and afternoon tea.


Written by Tait Thompson

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