Welcome to heaven on earth for shopping aficionados! With its hundreds of boutiques, each more luxurious than the last, Harrods is the largest of London’s department stores!
Follow the guide!
💡 The Captain’s tip 💡
Want to know more about the history of London? Captain Ulysses highly recommends this free guided tour of the capital. It’s up to you to choose how much you wish to tip the tour guide!
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Brief history of Harrods in London
The origins of Harrods
The history of Harrods begins in the early 19th century. In 1834, Charles Henry Harrod, a tea wholesaler, opened a grocery store in the East End, a poor district of London.
In 1849, he moved his store to Brompton Road in Knightsbridge. Over the years, he gradually bought up the commercial premises in the vicinity to expand his store. In 1861, his son, Charles Digby Harrod, succeeded him at the head of the company.
On November 6, 1883, Harrods was destroyed in a fire. The following year, a larger store was built on the same site.
Expansion and modernization
In 1889, the company was sold to Alfred James Newton, who quickly took it public. At the turn of the century, major renovations and enlargements were carried out. In the late 19th century, Newton had an “inclined rolling plan” installed (the ancestor of the modern escalator): it was a first in a department store!
In 1914, the company opened a new store… in Buenos Aires! (The Argentinian store closed in 1998 and no longer exists) The company also bought up a number of other London department stores.
Harrods from the 50’s to the 80’s
In the late 1950s, the company was acquired by the parent company of House of Fraser. It continued to expand the store and grow its reputation around the world.
In the 70’s and 80’s, the store was the target of several attacks by the IRA (Irish Republican Army).
Harrods since the 1980s
In 1985, Harrods was bought by the Al-Fayed family and separated from House of Fraser. The new owners further expanded the store and created theEgyptian Hall, adorned with bas-reliefs and statues in marble and bronze rococo!
In 1998, Dodi Al-Fayed, son of the CEO of Harrods, disappeared in the car accident that also caused the death of his companion, Lady Diana. Her father had a memorial installed in the Knightsbridge store in honor of the couple.
In 2010, Harrods was acquired by the investment fund Qatar Holdings, owned by the Emirate of Qatar. They installed a new Art Nouveau style escalator and continued to develop the now legendary store.
A few figures
- is spread over a surface area of 92,000 m²
- is spread over 7 levels (2 in the basement + the first floor + 4 floors)
- counts a total of over 330 boutiques
- counts 32 bars, pubs and restaurants
- has more than 3,500 employees
- receives approximately 15 million visitors per year
- registered revenues approximating £1.5 billion in 2015
🤔 Fun Fact 🤔
The store’s motto is “Omnia ubique omnibus“, which means “Everything, everywhere, for everyone”. Well, considering the prices charged in the store, this may be a bit of an exaggeration!
Visiting Harrods in London
Whether you’re in a spending mood or not, Harrods is a must-see in London! What to see in the famous store? Be sure not to miss:
👉 Harrods façade: first stop before even entering the store to admire its imposing terracotta-colored Victorian façade. At nightfall, it is lit by… 12,000 bulbs: impressive to say the least!
👉 The Egyptian Hall: created by the Al-Fayed brothers, Harrods’s Egyptian Hall is quite unique, with its impressive display of marble and gilding in the purest Egyptian style…
👉 Lady Di and Dodi Al-Fayed Memorial: upon the death of his son in the car accident also responsible for the disappearance of his partner, Lady Di, Mohamed Al-Fayed had a monument erected in memory of the couple. You’ll find the memorial in the basement of the Knightsbridge store.
👉 Shopping at Harrods: clothes, perfumes, jewelry, beauty products, luggage, home decor, etc. Harrods truly is heaven on earth for shopping aficionados. If you’re running on a tight budget, you can stick with the store’s git shop. Why not splurge on the legendary teddy bear which is a symbol of the brand? For the record, Winnie the Pooh was inspired from Harrods’ teddy bear!
👉 Cuisine & gastronomy: Harrods counts dozens of cafes, bars and restaurants, as well as a vast delicatessen department. But be warned, like everywhere else in the store, the prices are somewhat prohibitive!
👉 Harrods Christmas parade: the Christmas parade has become an unmissable event for kids (
and adults)! The event includes a parade presided over by Santa Claus aboard a horse-drawn sleigh, followed by a photo session with the children. Be warned, the event is a victim of its own success: remember to book at least three months in advance if you want to meet Santa Claus!
👉 The sales at Harrods: as in any department store, the sales are a highlight of the year. Discounts can reach up to 80%: a great opportunity to treat yourself without (completely) breaking the bank!
🎩 Proper attire required 🎩
In 1989, Harrods implemented a dress code: beach shorts, bathing suits and flip-flops are forbidden!
Getting to Harrods
Harrods is located at 87-135 Brompton Road, in the upscale Knightsbridge neighborhood, just a stone’s throw from Hyde Park in central London.
The nearest public transports are:
- metro: Knightsbridge station (Piccadilly line)
- buses : lines 9, 10, 14, 19, 22, 52, 74, 137, 414 and C1
Hop-on hop-of sightseeing buses also stop near the store and are quite handy for getting around the capital’s major sites and monuments.
Harrods is open:
- Monday to Saturday: 10am to 9pm
- Sunday: from 11:30 am to 6 pm
Admission to the store is obviously free of charge. If you want to do some shopping, be prepared to break your piggy bank, unless you’re visiting during the sales! Most visitors are content to buy a teddy bear or an oilcloth shopping bag from the gift store.
👍 London Pass & London Explorer Pass 👍
If you’re spending some time in London, passes are a smart investment. There are two options: the London Pass and the London Explorer Pass.
The London Pass is a favorite of the Captain, as it provides access to 80 top London attractions including iconic museums and monuments such as the Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Kensington Palace…
👉 Skip the lines: book your tickets and visits in London!
👉 Find the perfect place to stay in London!
👉 Looking for tips and recommendations? Here are all the Captain’s suggestions in London!
🛏️ Accommodation: If you haven’t booked your accommodation in London yet, Captain Ulysses highly recommends Expedia. And for more tips and recommendations, check out the Captain’s detailed article: Where to stay in London?
🎟️ Activities: For your visits and activities in London, the Captain recomends checking out GetYourGuide, Civitatis and Tiqets. Skip-the-line tickets, cruises, guided tours, activities off the beaten tracks… You will undoubtedly find what everything you need… and more! Keep in mind that London is a very touristy city: if you want to avoid queuing for hours, skip-the-line tickets are great time savers!
🎫 Citypass : If you’re spending a few days in the capital, Captain Ulysse recommends investing in a city pass which will give you access to the most iconic monuments and attractions in London. There are 2 options: the London Explorer Pass and the London Pass (which also includes a 1-day hop-on-hop-off bus tour.). These passes have 2 major advantages: the discounts and the skip-the-line accesses.
🚐 Transfers: London is a huge city and the airports are quite distant from the city centre. If you want to avoid spending hours in public transports to get to your hotel, you can book a transfer from the airport. A car will be waiting for you at the airport and will take you wherever you want in the city centre. Find out more here.
🚌 Transports: The capital being quite spread out, there’s no avoiding taking public transports. The good news is that they are quite easy to navigate! You can also opt for a hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus tour, which includes an audioguide and stops at the main attractions and monuments in the city.
✈️ Flights: To get to London, there are plenty of options: planes, buses, trains and even ferries. For your flights, the Captain highly recommends that checking out Skyscanner: you’ll be able to find the best deal for the dates on which you plan on traveling to London. If your dates are flexible, you will even be able to compare prices over several weeks in order to find THE best deal. London is also easily accessible by bus and train. To book your trips, the Captain warmly recommends Omio, which allows you to travel through 44 countries with 207 train and bus companies, including Eurostar.