Just say the word ‘Harrods’ and images of stylish luxury fill my mind from Yves Saint Laurent couture to Steiff teddy bears, not forgetting, the famous food halls of this, the largest department store in Europe. Covering over 4.5 acres, spread across 5 floors and with over 300 departments and 26 bars, cafés and restaurants, it is easy to get lost here!
WARNING: Do not take a large bag, suitcase or rucksack with you, as you’ll be charged a disgraceful £25 to leave it in their left luggage store. UPDATE 2018
Whether your aim is to let rip with your credit cards or merely to do a spot of window shopping, a visit to Harrods makes a great day out. Here are a few tips on how to enjoy a stress-free, trip to Harrods.
When to go
It can get very busy especially at peak times like Christmas and rainy Sundays, when visitors to London want somewhere warm and dry to explore. Monday, I’m told, is the quietest day of the week.
How to get there
Harrods is on Brompton Road (numbers 87-135) in the Knightsbridge area of central London.
Knightsbridge tube station on the Piccadilly line is just to one side of the main entrance – very handy indeed. However, the tube can be a nightmare when busy and for those of us on the short side it is not pleasant travelling with your nose in someones armpit. As Christmas approaches this will only get worse. Plus there are stairs and escalators to negotiate at this station which can be tricky for anyone with limited mobility or a tonne of shopping to carry!
The following London bus routes all stop near Harrods: 9, 10, 14, 19, 22, 52, 74, 137, 414, 452, C1. You can check the Transport for London website for the latest travel information and maps.
There is also valet parking available from £18 for up to 2 hours (but I’m sure you’ll need longer!)
A stylish, stress-free alternative is to arrange for your personal chauffeur to whisk you there in a sleek limousine. Founded in 2011, Blacklane offers an affordable, high quality chauffeur service with premium vehicles and professional drivers. Definitely the way to get there and back if you are looking for the ultimate shopping experience.
What to see
Here are some of the main departments in Harrods but with over 300 to choose from this barely scratches the service! A more detailed guide can be found here.
And if you do get lost, just ask any member of staff; they really couldn’t be more helpful.
Ground Floor: men’s wear, jewellery, watches and my favourite, the not to be missed, food halls.
First Floor: women’s wear and shoes
Second Floor: home decor and gift shops
Third Floor: toys, technology and furniture
Fourth Floor: women’s fashion, children, maternity, Disney and the pet department and spa
Yes, for an exorbitant price you can buy your pooch the latest accessories at Pet Kingdom. You can also pick up a few things at a reasonable price. On my last visit I treated my cat to a couple of Harrods bowls in the their trademark green with the gold Harrods logo. They’ll look very stylish on my kitchen floor and at £10.95 for the pair they didn’t break the bank. (They’re her Christmas present so don’t tell!)
Fifth Floor: sports fashion, hair and beauty and men’s fashion
Where to eat
With a bewildering assortment of cafes and restaurants, including British, French, Italian, Arabic and Oriental cuisine to choose from, here are just a few of my favourites…
Cucina toscana dei Frescobaldi, Lower ground floor
Lunch and dinner
Fine Tuscan cuisine with a superb selection of Frescobaldi wines produced in their Tuscan and Friuli estates (also available in Harrods’ Wine Shop).
Ladurée, ground floor
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
This Parisian style tearoom was established in 1862 on Hans Road and has an outdoor terrace for al fresco dining in spring and summer.
Ladurée is known internationally for its macaroons, millefeuilles and tartes, but the lunch menu should not be overlooked with a selection of uniquely stylish dishes.
The restaurant’s l’heure du thé (afternoon tea), offers a memorable selection of finger sandwiches, mini viennoiseries and pastries.
The Champagne Bar, 1st floor
Lunch and dinner
Enjoy the full collection from the Hostomme family (Harrods’ exclusive Champagne provider) with Harrods’ à la carte menu specifically designed to complement these fine Champagnes.
In-Q Café, 2nd floor
Coffee and snacks
Discover the exquisite tastes and cultural riches of Qatar with a visit to the intimate In-Q Café, serving authentic Arabic coffee with a selection of sweet treats, dates and pastries.
Cafe Godiva, 2nd floor
Light bites and something sweet
A chocoholics delight! Decadent truffles, melting fondues and rich chocolate drinks all using the finest ingredients, for a guaranteed taste of heaven with savoury sandwiches for a pre or post chocolate fix.
The Georgian, 4th floor
Lunch and afternoon tea
Classic English fine dining in the most elegant of settings. Choose between the buffet, à la carte or, on weekends only, the carvery.
For a real treat to complete the perfect shopping day, I’d recommend a visit to the Georgian Restaurant for their famous afternoon tea. For £29 you will be served freshly cut sandwiches, home-baked English scones served with clotted cream, rose petal jelly and strawberry preserves, plus a range of cakes and pastries accompanied by your choice of tea from Harrods’ private tea gardens.
In a hurry or on a budget?
The Harrod’s food halls, on the ground floor, serve a great range of food to take away including some delicious fresh sandwiches.
If you have a large bag, suitcase or rucksack with you, or indeed a tonne of shopping from other stores, you will be asked to leave them in left luggage. Small rucksacks are permitted only if carried by hand or worn at the front, to help avoid accidental breakages. You’ll find left luggage right round the back of Harrods, on Basil Street at door 2A. It currently costs £3 per bag and £1 per coat.
2018 UPDATE: I’ve heard that it now costs £25 per bag. In return you will get a £25 voucher to use in the store. What they don’t tell you until you have bought the voucher is that you will have to spend £50 in one transaction in order to use it. That is utterly unacceptable in my book!
Photography is allowed in most parts of the store with some exceptions including the jewellery department.
Christmas at Harrods
Although Christmas decorations are already on sale, the Christmas season official starts at Harrods with Santa’s Parade on Saturday 2nd November. It’s a good idea to avoid the area that morning if travelling by road. The Christmas Grotto also opens on that day and tickets are on sale now.
For further information, including opening hours please visit Harrods.com
Oh! Did I mention the scrumptious food halls?
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