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London is well known around the world for its fantastic shopping, which is characterised as much by variety as by quality. Wherever you go in the city, you’re never far from a great market or a world-class shopping district – and in this blog, we’ll take a closer look at some of the shops you should add to your itinerary for a quintessentially English shopping experience…
Fortnum & Mason
There are many department stores in London, but there are none quite like Fortnum & Mason. As soon as you walk through the doors in Piccadilly, you’ll be astonished by the sheer variety on offer. The store has been trading for more than 300 years, and remains a staunch favourite with the Royal family, as well as stocking items sourced from the Highgrove Estate (the country residence of Prince Charles).
Fortnum & Mason is particularly popular for its hampers, and its vast selection of preserves, biscuits and teas. Some of the tea on offer has been created in commemoration of special Royal events, and there are sampling stations throughout the store for those eager to get a little more hands-on during their shopping trip.
Highly recommended for fans of a truly English excursion while staying at the Montcalm Shoreditch, this is also a great place to kick start an exploration of local department stores.
Perhaps the most famous department store anywhere in the world, Harrods frequently makes its way onto ‘must see’ shopping itineraries for London visitors and guests at our Montcalm Hotels. The venue began as a grocery store in 1849, and has come a long way since these humble origins.
The store itself is difficult to miss when passing by the area of Knightsbridge it sprawls across and it’s busy all year round with shoppers eager to experience a true London mainstay. Some of the most popular departments include a large perfumery, as well as plenty of fabulous fashion and sales during the summer and winter months – helping you get a few more items while you’re there.
This store has become famous for its quality as much as for its variety and first opened in 1909. At the time, Selfridges was the pet project of American entrepreneur Harry Selfridge, who helped to pioneer the modern department store as we think of it today. Using curious exhibits and new sales techniques, he helped to spearhead a different experience of shopping, and the store still uses many of these methods in the 21st century.
One of the major draws of Selfridges remains its impressive window displays, which always reflect both events in-store and wider events in the world at large. The Christmas displays draw huge crowds, as do those which focus on the latest fashions. When you step inside Selfridges during your stay at luxury hotels in London, you’ll be greeted to a diverse range of departments, including clothing, accessories, perfume and groceries at the traditional Food Hall.
Liberty of London
Without doubt one of London’s most striking – and quintessentially English – venues, Liberty of London is strongly connected with the world of design and textiles, with the famous ‘Liberty print’ adorning some of the fabrics available in-store. However once you step inside the historic, timber-framed building, you’ll soon discover there’s much more to Liberty than just the print which bears its name.
Ever since its opening in 1875, Liberty of London has kept up to date with the latest fashions, giving each of them a unique English twist. In addition, there are vast jewellery, home and cosmetics sections to browse, while those in the mood for some DIY can head for the fabric department and immerse themselves in a world of British design.
This is a great space to browse before treating yourself to an indulgent afternoon tea in Marble Arch, where you can celebrate your latest purchase in an equally traditional, strikingly English way.
Marks & Spencer
When one thinks of shopping in England, Marks & Spencer eventually enters the imagination – and Marylebone is the home of the flagship store. There are more than 300 M&S shops in the UK, and customers trust the brand to provide the very best of everything from clothing and food to household items. The company is dedicated to delivering high quality goods and fantastic customer service, winning fans around the country and ensuring visiting shoppers know they’re being treated to something very British and highly original. Whatever you’re looking for, you stand a good chance of finding it here – making M&S a popular choice with those seeking gifts for loved ones back home, as well as mementos of your trip.
Fashion-conscious and noted for its associations with luxury items, Harvey Nichols opened in 1813, though it was vastly different from the store it has become in the intervening centuries. Once a linen shop, Harvey Nichols now stocks several floors of decadent goods from brands like Versace and Alexander McQueen, as well as plentiful homewares and designer accessories. The store is aesthetically-pleasing to browse, providing a great way to spend some time before dining at Chiswell Street dining rooms.
Few shops say ‘British high street’ quite as much as Topshop, a hugely popular retailer with roots firmly entrenched in British fashion. The store on the corner of Oxford Street is situated within a true shopping idyll, and remains extremely busy throughout the week. It’s no surprise – the venue offers floor upon floor of clothing created by emerging designers, and you might even see a few crowds gathering ahead of opening time, eager to get ahead of the rush later on.
If you want to experience a condensed version of English high street fashion culture, this is a great place to start. In addition, the store has added new areas which include everything from vintage to maternity clothes, as well as a boutique and nail bar – so there