Guest Author - Ann Carroll Burgess
To paraphrase Dr Johnson: “When a woman is tired of shopping in London, she is tired of life,”
London is one of the best places to shop in Europe. From the emporiums of Harrods and Selfridge, to the names of Burberry and Gieves and Hawke, there is no shortage of locations to find your souvenir, the token representative of your trip.
Since you are a reader, let us begin with Waterstone in Piccadilly, claims to be the largest bookstore in Europe, stocking over a quarter of a million titles, all under one roof. To keep you hydrated and full of energy to seek out more titles there is a café in house.
Selfridge, opened in 1909 became the definition of the modern day department store which many innovations that persist into the 21st century. Try to watch come of the PBS program episodes of “Selfridge” 1 to get a true sense of this radical entrepreneur who made shopping an adventure and not just a necessity.
400 Oxford Street.
Liberty’s is the place to frequent for fabrics and home fashions. When it opened in 1875 it was to showcase silks and other expensive fabrics from the far flung corners of the British Empire. Later, it employed such artists as William Morris to design fabrics for the store’s exclusive use. Today you can find contemporary fashions and jeweler, and of course, for anything in the iconic “Liberty print.”
210-220 Regent Street
Harrods. THE department store in London is the best reason to visit the city in the first week of January for its legendary sale. Pop your vitamins and wear your most comfortable shoes for a quest of 7 floors of the retail heaven. It has all the fashion you would expect and the legendary “food halls” filled with treats both familiar and unexpected. I have a theory that the famous “cheese shop” routine of the Monty Python comedy troop may have been inspired by a visit to the cheese hall in Harrods.
87-135 Brompton Road
If you are looking for glamour, head for Harvey Nichols, where you will discover wall to wall designer labels. A highlight of the Knightsbridge area, the local calls it Harvey Nicks. But this is more than just a designer dress shop, there are items for home and hearth, as well as food halls and some very trendy restaurants tucked into this five story emporium.
Hamley’s is London’s largest toy shop. Release your inner child inside this magical emporium. If you don’t trust yourself to go inside, take a few moments and revel in the window displays. This store houses a truly awesome mix of traditional and electronic toys for all ages. Just make sure to keep a firm grip on the husband’s hand or you may spend hours searching for him.
188-196 Regent Street
Looking for something a little more unusual? Try the shop in the British Museum. Crafts, jewelry and oodles of books are placed cheek by jowl with Greek and Roman reproductions of art and sculptures.