A trip to London wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Harrods. We had been informed by some of the ladies that we work with, that this was a must do. So as we were in London for another day we decided to take the tube from Piccadilly Circus, where we were staying, and head over to Knightsbridge. It is a only a short distance and once again we were reminded to ‘Mind the Gap’ as we left the train.
We had been told that you can buy absolutely anything you desire in Harrods. Their motto is ‘Omnia Omnibus Ubique’ which apparently is Latin for ‘all things for all people’. So we were eager to see just what treasures Harrods had in store for us. Well the first thing that you realise is that Harrods is huge. The store is built on 5 acres and has around 330 department stores, with 1.1 million square feet of retail space. That’s a lot of shopping space in anyone’s language.
So with floor map in hand we set off to explore the wonders of the store.
Like everything in London there is so much history and Harrods is no exception. Charles Henry Harrod took over a small shop on the site where the current Harrods now stands. At the time it was just a single room employing a messenger boy and 2 clerks. But it was his son Charles Digby Harrod who built the business up into a thriving retail operation. He expanded the small store and took over adjoining buildings and by 1880 he employed 100 staff.
The store burnt to the ground in December 1883, but Charles Harrod honoured his commitment to his customers and ensured that they received their Christmas orders.It wasn’t long before Harrods was rebuilt and as they extended credit for the first time,vit became the place to shop for the royal family and people such as Charlie Chaplin, Laurence Olivier, Oscar Wilde, Noel Coward and Lillie Langtry. Harrod sold his interest in the Store in 1889.
The new owners installed England’s first escalator, which was a leather conveyer belt with mahogany and silver plate-glass balustrade. It is said that customers were given glasses of Brandy at the top to calm them after their ordeal.
After a few more sales it became the property of Mohamed Al-Fayed who vowed he would never sell it. But in 2010 Harrods was sold again, this time to Saudi Arabia.
The food hall is a must to visit. They have just about anything you could want to buy, including some very exotic foods that didn’t appeal to me at all. And there is an infinite assortment of chocolates, cheese, tea and coffee. The toy section is also a must to visit, here you will find anything you can imagine to keep your children entertained and amused.
We didn’t find much in the way of inexpensive things to buy, mind this was back in 2001 and things have probably changed a lot since then. At the time we brought the customary tourist purchase – a plastic bag and a mug, and I also picked up some White Linen room freshener which was delightful.
Oh and there is a dress code, so if you turn up in thongs, beach shorts cycling shorts or anything else deemed inappropriate, you won’t get in, as Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan and others found out.
Harrods is a great place to go if you have and hour or two to kill. There is so much to see including Designer fashion.
- Food Hall Photo by Fæ) [CC BY 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons
- Egyptian Room Photo by Targeman [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5 ], from Wikimedia Commons