Most visitors to London look forward to exploring the offerings of the famous department stores. London's department stores are usually part of a retail chain but most have their flagship stores right in central London making it convenient for visitors.
These amenity-rich department stores offer one-stop shopping and include places to rest and take tea or have a meal in their restaurants, cafes, and bars. Some even have spas and beauty salons where you can to relax at the end of a hard day's shopping. Personal shoppers can be booked if you require retail assistance which adds to the convenience of shopping in London.
Large department stores offer good after-sales service too so you can feel confident shopping from these stores and shipping or taking your purchases back home with you.
Harrods opened in 1849 and has a reputation for excellence and selling the finest-quality merchandise. A London landmark everyone wants to visit, Harrods has over 300 departments on 7 floors so it's easy to spend a lot of time and money here even while the store is gradually undergoing modernization and renovation.
Don't miss the impressive food hall, one of 30 eateries in the store, selling everything from fresh doughnuts and sushi to delicacies perfect for gifting.
Harrods is easily accessible from the Knightsbridge Tube station on the Piccadilly line.
Selfridges opened on Oxford Street in 1909 and underwent extensive refurbishments in the 1990s. The flagship store on London's Oxford Street is the second largest department store in the UK and is now a stunning, modern store that attracts top-end shoppers looking for designer goods.
Selfridges is accessible from the Bond Street Tube station.
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 mantra) 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 a basement food hall was added in 2007. There are several restaurants to choose from.
Services include interior design, personal shopping, and a nursery specialty service.
Peter Jones on Sloane Square, Chelsea, is part of the same group.
The Oxford Street store is closest to the Oxford Street Tube station.
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. Fortnum's Food Hall has expanded across 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.
Fortnum & Mason is home to four hives of Welsh bees housed on the roof of the Piccadilly store since 2008. These are special beehives, six feet high, with artist-designed entrances in iconic architectural styles such as Roman, Chinese, and Gothic with copper-clad pagoda roofs. Their honey jars, which make great souvenirs, are modeled after these impressive hives.
The Picadilly Circus Tube Station is a two-minute walk from the store.
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 Nik's' is hipper than Harrods and some say it has a wider designer choice than Selfridges. A trip here is a must for any fashionista.
The closest Tube station to Harvey Nichols is Knightsbridge.
There are branches of House of Fraser (HOF) across the UK and the store touts being a high-end place for trendy designer goods. It's a popular store and has great house brand called Linea.
In 2018 HOF owners entered a voluntary arrangement which included plans to close over half of House of Fraser stores and were subsequently purchased by Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct International (SDI) which has plans to revitalize the business and keep most of the stores open.
The nearest Tube stop is Bond Street station.
Debenhams has history back to 1778 when William Clark opened a drapery store in London's West End selling expensive fabrics, hats, gloves, and parasols. In 1813 William Debenham became a partner in the company and it became Clark & Debenham. The store, with multiple branches in Ireland, the UK, and worldwide is now known as a general service department store.
Debenhams stocks affordable ranges from a number of talented British designers such as Jasper Conran, Ben de Lisi, and Julien Macdonald. Debenhams has a large shoe department, an extensive lingerie section, and a cosmetics hall with all the top beauty brands represented.
The Bond Street Tube station is the closest.
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 and Crafts movement helped create what is known worldwide as "Liberty Style."
The building is now a heritage listed London icon. They have an in-house design studio which hand-paints and creates prints from the store's archives. You'll find home decor items, clothing, and high-end accessories and gifts when you shop Liberty.
This elegant store is unlike any other as it feels like you're in a luxurious home rather than a store so it's definitely worth a visit.
The nearest Tube stop for Liberty London is Oxford Circus.
Marks & Spencer Marble Arch is the flagship store for "Marks & Sparks" which is probably Britain's best-loved department store (there is another branch at 173 Oxford Street). Many Londoners buy their underwear there but they also have a fine clothing range which is known for its good quality and reasonable prices.
The Marble Arch branch is always popular with overseas visitors who seem to come to buy clothes for a whole year. Marks and Spencer food halls are also great as they are more "everyday luxury" prices so you can treat yourself to some lovely picnic food.
The Marble Arch Tube station is the closest to this Marks & Spencer location.
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 Fenwick Kitchen on the second floor is a wonderful place to enjoy afternoon tea or a modern British meal with wine.
The Oxford Circus or Bond Street Tube stations are equidistant from the store.
Dover Street Market (DSM London) 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 vibe 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. The Rose Bakery on the top floor serves delicious treats.
The Picadilly Circus Tube station is the closest.