Omnia Omnibus Ubique—All Things for All People, Everywhere, Harrods Motto
I love the picture above which shows one of the confectionery display cases. It’s as if you’ve stepped into a movie, complete with staff in uniform and hats, bright and cheery smiles, and the ceiling laced with light fixtures every 12 inches. The cases, shiny and absent of fingerprints, simply go on and on for what seems like miles to include the finest of chocolates from all over the world. It is not just chocolates in the confectionery case, you will find an assortment of nuts, chews, Turkish delights, truffles, caramels, brittles, bars, mints, chocolate covered coffee beans, gold foiled coins, biscuits & fruits, pralines, alcohol-free selections, florentines, toffees, candied fruits, and hand-crafted selections just to name a few. It gives a whole new meaning to a kid in a candy store. Everything is exciting. Even when I saw something that was familiar, the packing was unique or the colors and flavors were original. Keep in mind, this is just the sweets section of Harrods.
Harrods is located on Brompton Road in Knightsbridge in London. Harrods is difficult to describe as there isn’t anything else in the world that compares to the 5 acre, 1 million square foot store with 300 departments within. Harrods was founded in 1834 by Charles Henry Harrod, it is the largest department store in Europe and the third largest in the world. While Harrods may not be the largest store, it is by far the most spectacular, displaying the finest products from around the world.
Picture yourself walking around for hours and not fully experiencing the entire store. I found Harrods to be absolutely fascinating for several reasons, one of which is their dress code which was implemented in 1989. How many stores have a dress code? It is common for fine restaurants to require a jacket and tie, but this was the first I had heard of a department store requiring specific dress, not to be confused with their “afternoon tea dress code”. The first time I had been to Morton’s Steakhouse, my husband and I were young and not aware that suit jackets were required. Fortunately, they had a closet full of jackets for people like ourselves.
To be a patron of Harrods, you may not wear ripped jeans, high cut Bermuda or beach shorts, swim wear, cycling shorts, spandex, flip flops or thong sandals, dirty or unkempt clothing, bare feet, radical hairstyles or exposed midriffs. While growing up, my grandmother told stories of when she was a little girl and wore gloves and a hat to shop at the departments stores in San Francisco and when boarding a flight.
Harrods is so much more than a luxury department store, inclusive of 32 restaurants, a personal shopping-assistance program known as “By Appointment”, a watch repair service, tailoring, pharmacy, beauty salon and barber shop, Harrods Financial Services, Harrods Bank, Ella Jade Bathroom Planning and Design Service, private events planning and catering, food delivery, wine steward, fragrance formulations, and arcade machines.
Coffee: For all the coffee connoisseurs out there, Harrods sells the most expensive coffee & teas in the world! What are luxury coffees? For starters, the beans are hand selected. The coffee is scarce and has very low production.
Terra Nera is the rarest coffee in the world sold exclusively at Harrods. It is sourced from Quechua (Peruvian Andes) due to the altitude. The coffee beans come from coffee berries fermented through a cat’s digestive tract, creating a fragrant, flavorful bean with hints of cocoa, hazelnut, buttery body with a velvet finish. Six different grades of coffee are available. Grade 0 is the finest of all the beans which are hand-selected. If you’re asking, what do I get when ordering the Grade 0 coffee? The Grade 0 coffee is sold in a 24-carat gold-plated sack. Harrods has arranged for each sack to be individually engraved and hand-crafted with the customer’s name by renowned and award-winning silversmith, Rebecca H. Joselyn. The customers who place orders exceeding 500g will be offered a complimentary coffee machine. Prices for Terra Nera coffee range from £140 to £6,800.
When it comes to shopping, I love luggage. Maybe is has something to do with my passion for travel or the ability to spot my bag as it comes down the belt at the airport? I don’t necessarily have the need to “travel in style”, but I know that I am fascinated by great, durable bags. With that said, I also am realistic in that there are very few items in which I can afford at Harrods, luggage being one of them. However, I still love to look. I took a couple of photos of luggage and texted them to my daughter as she shares the love of luggage. Did you know that Harrods has stores in two airports? Harrods is located inside Heathrow and Gatwick. Harrods luggage selection is broken down into four categories: Alpha Collection, Alpha 2, Arrive Collection, and Tegra-Lite. Harrods even has a section called Children’s Travel. What does all this mean? It is overwhelming in the sense that there are over 20 brands of luggage at the department store. A few of the brands which may sound familiar are Samsonite, Lulu Guinness, Mulberry, Kelsey and Burberry. The imagine to the left is the Ted Baker line, notice the print on the outside continues into the lining of the luggage. The luggage is also available in light pink starting at £275.00 ($391) for the small size.
Let’s talk food
Dining at Harrods is an experience in itself, offering 10 classic restaurants, 12 contemporary options and 6 cafes. When dining at the Rotisserie, be sure to try the Harrods 1849 Lager. After a cold, blistery day in December, we ducked into Harrods for hot, succulent, free-range chicken, roasted over a flame. Sit up to the bar and watch the chefs cook your dinner and saute with flames, while listening to the clanking of pans, laughter, International aromas and languages fill the air. The décor at the Rotisserie dates back to the turn of the century. Try one of the specialty kebabs and side dishes such as roast potatoes and gratin dauphinois (potatoes and crème fraîche).
Harrods restaurants are categorized by Classic, Contemporary and Cafe. There are 26 restaurants including some familiar companies such as Cafe Godiva, Disney’s Wild West Cafe by Harrods, and Bentley’s Sea Grill. I love that Harrods is not super fancy, you can bring children and dine someplace fun. It is a great place to pop in and just have dessert or hot tea. This blog post would never end if I attempted to describe everything in the store but there are certain things that caught my eye. I thought of my daughter who absolutely LOVES ice cream, when I passed by the Ice Cream Parlour.
Located on the second floor, the Ice Cream Parlour is decorated like an old fashioned soda parlor. Sit up to the counter, choose your favorite flavor and build a dessert! Items found on the delicious menu consist of freshly made sundaes, shakes and decadent desserts with an array of flavors. All 13 traditional gelato and sorbet flavors are made using only the finest of ingredients. Other places to find dessert are YooMoo, Cafe Godiva,
The most interesting part of touring Harrods were the two memorials of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed. The first one, a picture of the two behind a pyramid display along with a wine glass with Diana’s lipstick from her last dinner which was unveiled in 1998 and is located at the base of the Egyptian Escalator. The second memorial is located at the escalator by the door titled “Innocent Victims”. It is the first time I have seen a memorial in a department store. The bronze statues show the couple dancing on the beach under an albatross. The statues were unveiled in 2005 and are very peaceful and beautifully designed by William Mitchell, who was a close friend of Mohammed Al-Fayed, Egyptian multi-millionaire and the father of Dodi Fayed.
In 2010, Al-Fayed sold Harrods to Qatar Investment Authority for £1.5 billion.
Harrods at Christmas Time….
Just when you think it can’t get any better….visit Harrods during the holidays. Magical, like you’ve never seen before. The display windows are out of this world. Bright with color, music playing, gowns made of jewels, snow falling and the displays move. Absolutely spectacular! We rode in the taxi cab with the windows down in December (freezing) just so we could hear the music playing in the display windows. Parents with children, couples holding hands and people passing by, stop to look into the windows on a cold, dark evening pointing with excitement and speaking in various languages.
In 1898, Harrods debuted England’s first “moving staircase”, known today as an escalator. Harrods is the only department store in Britain that has continued to sell furs. Female employees are required to wear six kinds of makeup at all times. Harrods has been connected with several high profile crimes over the years, including the 2012 theft of a £24,000 designer dress. A memorial statue of Michael Jackson was unveiled in April 2011 at the rear of Craven Cottage football ground and then removed in September 2013 on the orders of Shahid Khan.