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London Department Stores

London Shopping Guide

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London department stores are usually part of a retail chain but most have their flagship stores in central London. Department stores offer one-stop shopping so if it's raining you stay dry, which is good news knowing London weather.

All London department stores have restaurants, cafes, or bars and some have spas and beauty salons for relaxing at the end of a hard day's shopping. Personal shoppers can also be booked if you require retail assistance.

Department stores offer good after-sales service so you can feel confident shopping from these stores.

1. Harrods

Harrods London
© Laura Porter
Harrods opened in 1849 and has a reputation for excellence and the finest-quality merchandise. Harrods is a London landmark everyone wants to visit. Harrods has over 300 departments on seven floors so it's easy to spend a lot of time,and money, here. Don't miss the impressive food halls selling everything from fresh doughnuts and sushi to delicacies which make the perfect gift.

2. Selfridges

Selfridges
© Laura Porter
Address: Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, London W1A 1AB
Nearest tube stations: Bond Street / Marble Arch
Website: www.selfridges.com

Selfridges opened on Oxford Street in 1909 and underwent extensive refurbishments in the 1990s so is now a stunning, modern store that attracts top-end shoppers looking for designer goods. The store is stylish and contemporary and makes shopping an absolute pleasure.

3. John Lewis

John Lewis, Oxford Street, London
© Britain on View
John Lewis opened his first store on Oxford Street in 1864 selling haberdashery before expanding to the current building in 1870.

John Lewis is known for its keen pricing ("never knowingly undersold" is its price guarantee) and they stock nearly half a million products from perfume to luggage, and toys to TVs. The Oxford Street store was refurbished in 2001 and it just feels really nice to shop here so it's usually my first choice on Oxford Street. A basement food hall was added in 2007.

Peter Jones on Sloane Square, Chelsea, is part of the same group.

4. Fortnum and Mason

Fortnum & Mason have been at 181 Piccadilly for over 300 years. The store is popular with members of the British royal family and is renowned for its fine foodstuffs. I go there to buy gifts of tea for US friends. Fortnum's Food Hall has expanded onto two floors and there's a greater variety of fresh food than ever before. Fortnum & Mason is quintessentially English which attracts many overseas visitors to the ground floor. Venture beyond the food department and you'll find menswear, womenswear, cosmetics, homewares, and luggage spread over many floors. Find out more about Fortnum & Mason and see photos of the Fortnum & Mason Clock.

5. Harvey Nichols

Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, London
© Britiain on View
Address: Harvey Nichols, 109 - 125 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7RJ
Nearest tube station: Knightsbridge
Website: www.harveynichols.com

Harvey Nichols' flagship store opened in its present form on the corner of Knightsbridge and Sloane Street in the 1880s. There are eight floors of fashion, beauty, and home collections, with the Fifth Floor dedicated to Food and Restaurants.

'Harvey Niks' is considered funkier than Harrods and some say it has a wider designer choice than Selfridges. A trip here is a must for any fashionista.

6. House of Fraser

House of Fraser department store, Oxford Street, London
© Britiain on View
Address: House of Fraser, 318 Oxford Street, London W1C 1HF
Nearest tube stations: Oxford Circus / Bond Street
Website: www.houseoffraser.co.uk

There are over 60 branches of House of Fraser across the UK. I find this store strangely a bit intimidating as it tries hard to do the 'designer thing' but will never be as good as Selfridges or Harvey Nichols. Nevertheless, it's a popular store and has a great clothing range called 'Linea'.

7. Debenhams

Debenhams, Oxford Street, London
© Britiain on View
Address: Debenhams, 334-348 Oxford Street, London W1C 1JG
Nearest tube stations: Oxford Circus / Bond Street
Website: www.debenhams.com

Debenhams stocks affordable ranges from a number of talented British designers such as Jasper Conran, Ben de Lisi, Frost French, and Julien Macdonald. Debenhams has a large shoe department, an extensive lingerie section, and a cosmetics hall with all the top beauty brands represented.

Debenhams has become much trendier over the last few years and may have alienated its old faithful customers. I find the 'pumping music' a bit much but they have attracted the 'trendy young thing' crowd so I'm sure they're doing alright.

8. Liberty

Liberty department store, Regent Street, London
© Britiain on View
Arthur Lasenby opened Liberty in 1875 and the iconic Tudor-style building was designed in the 1920s. Arthur traveled the world importing exotic goods from far flung destinations and his support for the Arts & Crafts movement helped create what is known worldwide as 'Liberty Style'. This elegant store is unlike any other as it feels like you're in a luxurious home rather than shopping. Definitely worth a visit.

9. Marks and Spencer (M&S)

London Christmas Lights: Marks and Spencer window
© Laura Porter, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Address: M&S (Marble Arch), 458 Oxford Street, London, W1N OAP
Nearest tube station: Marble Arch
Website: www.marksandspencer.com

This is the flagship store for 'Marks & Sparks' which is probably Britain's best loved department store. (There is another branch at 173 Oxford Street too.) We all buy our underwear here but they also have a fine clothing range which is known for good quality and reasonable prices. The Marble Arch branch is always popular with overseas visitors who seem to come here to buy clothes for a whole year!

M&S food halls are also great as they are more 'everyday luxury' prices so you can treat yourself to some lovely picnic food.

10. Fenwick of Bond Street

Address: Fenwick, 63 New Bond Street, London W1A 3BS
Nearest tube station: Bond Street
Website: www.fenwick.co.uk

In 1891 Fenwick opened in New Bond Street, which today is one of London's most fashionable outlets. Fenwick of Bond Street is five floors of fashionable clothes and accessories for men and women, plus lingerie and home collections. The cosmetic department is considered among the finest in London and Bond & Brook on the second floor is a wonderful place to enjoy afternoon tea or a light bite.

11. BHS

Address: BHS, 252-258 Oxford Street, London W1C 1DL
Nearest tube stations: Oxford Circus
Website: www.bhs.co.uk

BHS (British Home Stores) has always been committed to selling value-for-money products. BHS is great for everyday clothes and household items at prices everyone can afford. You can grab a sandwich and drink on the ground floor or go to the cafe upstairs. This branch has a Wedding shop too.

12. Dover Street Market

Dover Street Market is the brainchild of Commes des Garcon's founder, Rei Kawakubo, and it features over 50 designers in a six-story Georgian-fronted building in Mayfair. It really has that industrial thing going on with paint-splattered concrete floors and stairs and portable toilet changing rooms. It's considered a hip place to shop and to be seen shopping.

DSM seems most popular with Japanese visitors (whenever I visit). Remember, going to DSM is not just about shopping; The Rose Bakery on the top floor serves delicious treats.
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