The most famous street for shopping is Oxford Street. Most of the high street chains have shops along this stretch and some, such as Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, HMV and Virgin have their flagship stores here. As far as department stores go, you can buy almost anything in Selfridges while the British institution of John Lewis promises that if you find what you’ve bought there cheaper anywhere else they will refund the difference.
Regent Street offers a higher calibre of products, including Burberry, Jaegar and Austin Reed. Hamleys sells toys while Dickins and Jones is an up market department store. The most famous shop in Regent Street is Liberty, housed in a beautiful mock Tudor-style building, especially designed in the 1920s and worth visiting for the architecture alone. Liberty is regarded as the quintessential English emporium, selling fashionable and eclectic designs. At the end of Regent Street is Piccadilly, still home to some distinctive shops. One of the more traditional is Fortnum and Mason, famous for its luxury food hampers and enticing window displays.
Covent Garden is a lively area, full of cafes and bars, buskers and street entertainers. The Market Hall houses stalls specializing in arts and crafts as well as small branches of some high street shops. There are also many independent outlets, which offer stylish and unique products. Those, in search of alternative remedies should head for Neal’s Yard, off Short’s Street, home of Neal’s Yard Remedies, natural products packaged in trademark blue bottles.
Harrods, in Knightsbridge, has seven floors and 300 departments. It welcomes over 15 million customers through its doors each year. There are thirty food outlets, a beauty spa and salon, a tailor and a department which creates bespoke fragrance formulations. The commitment to quality shopping is so great that customers are asked to observe a dress code. Famous patrons include Oscar Wilde, Sigmund Freud and members of the Royal Family (although not since 1997). The most magnificent area in Harrods is the food hall; a series of opulent ballroom sized rooms selling all kinds of delicacies; everything from fine teas to exotic chocolates to gourmet charcuterie.