In a frequently rainy city like London, it helps to have go-to, one-stop shops. London offers up just that: department stores, where you could get your clothes, accessories, housewares and even food products all in one place. Some traditional British department store giants include Marks and Spencer (and their much-loved luxury foods) and John Lewis (with their expansive collection of Royal Warrant housewares). Goods from these classic retailers (which can be found in the homes of many Londoners) are by American standards fairly pricey, though not necessarily the cream of the crop for the Brits. So where do the rich and famous go to shop then?
The answer is to even more lavish department stores. London is renowned for its world famous department stores, retailers that have built brands based on luxury and comfort for the most opulent people in the city. These are stores that offer products that are often the most expensive of their kind in the world. From the necessities like food to the non-essentials like jewellery, you’ll find only the highest quality merchandise there. That’s why not only do London’s most affluent shop there, but also tons of celebrities from the Royals (like Princess Kate) to the reality TV royals (like Kim Kardashian).
If you want to know where the rich and famous splurge, then check out our list of top London department stores. You’ll find out about not only some of the top goods on offer at each retailer, but also some of the things your favorite famous celebs were buying.
No. 6 – Selfridges: Beyonce, Gwen Stefani, Kim & Kourtney Kardashian and More
This premier chain of department stores opened its doors to wealthy Londoners in 1909. Today, the hot location on Oxford Street remains their flagship store with three others in Manchester and Birmingham.
It’s that Oxford Street store in which you’ll find all kinds of celebs perusing the racks from Gwen Stefani to Kim and Kourtney Kardashian. Last September, Queen Bey stopped in with her mom Tina Knowles (with her bodyguard close behind) to check out the shoes; seems Beyonce had her eyes on some Nicholas Kirkwood heels running from £700 (approximately $1,100 USD) and up. Plus there are always celebs spotted (like Emma Watson or Nicki Minaj) in the store to promote a new product.
Besides shoes, this department store carries designer clothes, books and music, housewares and beauty. They were the creators of the world’s most expensive nail polish – £160,000 (approximately $260,400 USD) Azature Black Diamond Nail Polish with 267 carats of black diamonds. To top it all off, they even sell food – including the world’s most expensive sandwich. It’s made with Wagyu beef (Japanese cattle fed only beer and grain, massaged with sake and rice wine) and it costs £85.
No. 5 – Fortnum & Mason: The Royal Family, Victoria & David Beckham
First established in 1707, this high-end department store offers shoppers food, beauty and housewares, including their signature teas and hampers. And it would seem the Brits just love these luxury goods since the store has recorded sales of £65 million in 2013 (approximately $109 million USD), a staggering 10% jump from 2012. What are they buying? It seems just about anything and everything; the world’s most expensive anti-aging cream, Cult 51, had a 5,000 person waiting list in 2013 before it even hit shelves. Model Kelly Brook is among one of the users of this product that cost £125 for 50ml. You can also find on the shelves Clive Christian No. 1 for Women (50ml) for £450, a smaller edition of his lavish The World’s Most Expensive Perfume. The store also used to sell £25,000 (approximately $42,000 USD) Snow Queen hampers filled with Veuve Clicquot and Beluga caviar among other things as late as a few years ago. However they currently only sell ones as expensive as £1,000.
Known as the Queen’s grocer and a favorite among the Royals, everyone from Princess Kate to Princess Beatrice (including the Queen herself) has been spotted at the store. Other celeb shoppers include Posh Spice Victoria Beckham and hubby David. Located in the near heart of Piccadilly Circus in London for over 300 years, they only just recently opened a second London store at St. Pancras and a new one in Dubai.
No. 4 – Harvey Nichols: Victoria Beckham, Kate Middleton, Wayne and Coleen Rooney, Adele and More
In business since 1831, this high-fashion retailer caters to London’s super rich. From Tom Ford to Valentino, Harvey Nichols only offers the best brands to their customers. Their flagship department store is in Knightsbridge, with several other locations in the UK and worldwide (including Hong Kong and Dubai). On top of their clothing, accessories and beauty collections, the chain also has prize-winning restaurants as well as spas.
Victoria Beckham purchased a £1,430 Loewe trench coat from the department store that’s also been visited by Kate Middleton and Beyonce. Footballer Wayne Rooney and wife Coleen have also been seen leave the luxury store with plenty of bags in tow. Superstar singer Adele also stopped by the Nails Inc. spa inside one of the stores to get a deluxe treatment.
No. 3 – Harrods: Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Hurley, Justin Bieber and More
Harrods, the biggest department store in Europe, is over 5-acres and has over 330 departments including clothes, accessories and shoes, beauty and housewares to name few. Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Hurley and Justin Bieber are just handful of stars to be seen shopping in the Knightsbridge store. Plus there’s always rich and famous guests promoting new items (such as Hurley) or unveiling their world famous Summer Sale. In the past, Sarah Michelle Gellar (who was recently quoted as saying she loved a great sale), Christina Aguilera and Kim Cattrall have all pulled up in the green, horse-drawn carriage to open the sale.
Harrods sells the world’s most expensive coffee from Terra Nera, running up to £6,800 depending on quantity, in their Food Halls. Over in accessories, ladies can get the latest Ralph Lauren Black Label purse for £17,145 ( approximately $28,700 USD). And if you’re looking for a great gift idea, they have Christmas hampers for £20,000 ( $33,000 USD).
One of the more outrageous and yet still heart-warming purchases from Harrods was Christian the Lion – for the equivalent of a meager £3,500 today. The cub was purchased by Australians John Rendall and Anthony Bourke in 1969 and returned to the wild when he big enough. (That turned into a tear-jerking viral video when they reunited with Christian a few years later.)
No. 2 – Liberty of London: Manolo Blahnik, Kelly Brook, Freida Pinto, Naomi Watts and More
The famous designer known for his high-fashion shoes, Manolo Blahnik, calls Liberty of London his favorite shop for “unusual items”. Other celebs who’ve been spotted at the department store include Kelly Brook, Freida Pinto and Naomi Watts. Even Sarah Jessica Parker’s cute twins Marion and Tabitha have been spotted in traditional Liberty florals (though we can’t say for sure that the kids have ever been to the store themselves since they were tots at the time!) Liberty, which first was founded in 1875, is renowned for those graphic prints.
In fact, one of their Liberty-print, cashmere scarves could set you back £250 while certain Liberty-print fabrics run about £115 per meter. Marion and Tabitha’s dresses could’ve cost up to £260 each. The store also has a huge housewares section on top of designer beauty, accessories and clothing.
No. 1 – Fenwick of Bond Street: Lily Allen and Kate Middleton and More
The 11-store chain originally began as a fabric and tailoring store in 1882; today, still owned by the Fenwick family, the upscale department store specializes in women’s clothing and beauty by offering hundreds of designer brands. The Bond Street location (of which nearby neighbors include Louis Vuitton, Longchamp and Cartier to name a few) is one of the prime hotspots for the rich and famous of London. That’s why the five-floor store was less than pleased two years ago when Victoria’s Secret set up shop with their reasonably priced merchandise. In comparison with Fenwicks’ £225 Stella McCarthy bath robe, VS just didn’t cut it.