The other day, I hit up four stores, essentially along 1 straight path. I got out at South Kensington, walked over to The Conran Shop, then onto Brompton Road for Harrods, Harvey Nichols, and over onto Piccadilly for Fortnum and Mason. Almost turned back at Hyde Park Corner, because no joke, I could not figure out how to cross like multiple merging lanes of highway. Until I saw a lady coming out of what was labeled a subway, which in my mind I thought was a tube stop, but no in fact was actually a subway. So note to self, when it says subway it does not mean like in New York the subway, it means actually a subway under a really big street for pedestrians.
The Conran Shop - I have been coming here since before I can remember. This is a wonderful design store. It has numerous departments, furniture, kitchen, bed, bath, heaps of books, lighting and lots and lot of other design stuff. The one in London is located in the Historic Michelin building, the Bibendum building and is sprawled over a large amount space through which you can wonder and oggle. There is a Conran Shop in Paris as well, to which at this point I have been more times that it is decent to confess. That store is located very near Bon Marche which is certainly an appropriate design location. The Conran Shop, either in London or Paris is always worth a visit.
Harrods - So this place is sick. But like bad sick. Like its gross. And I would say its not a real working store. It is teeming with tourists (yes, I know I technically am one) and though the helper people in green bellhop outfits are nice, the actual sales staff is a bit loopy. So I don’t recommend it. I tried twice to buy Chanel makeup there, and they just don't seem very informed. Maybe if you are buying like a shit ton of Gucci, and I don't mean cool Alessandro Michele Gucci, I mean like the gaudy-label-whore Gucci, then maybe you're okay.
But, and this is a big BUT, they have a very exceptional Food Hall, which I highly recommend visiting. And here’s why, the selection of food is incredible, beautifully displayed, and the interior architecture is as delicious as the food. I would say for some very upmarket take away, and some fun sweets, the Food Hall at Harrods is not to be missed.
Harvey Nichols - This is a modern and I would say working luxury goods store. I successfully bought Chanel makeup here, the lady actually put some on me as part of their free 15 min consultation, and then she gave me some samples and wrapped it all up in a lovely bag. So this place is actually shop-able. They too have a food hall, not as elaborate at all as Harrod’s, but a wide selection of items, some British, some French, overall nicely presented and worth a look.
Fortnum and Mason - Ah, the end all be all of luxury prepared goods. Amazing delicacies in an equally enchanting setting, Fortnum and Mason is not to be missed. You feel instantly transported to another place and time as soon as you walk in. Without a doubt, the Ground Floor is my favorite. This is where you find tea, coffee, chocolates, turkish delight, tarts etc. Numerous boxed items gorgeously presented. I just love it!!! On the lower floor you can find exceptional quality meats, seafood, cheese, wine etc. Though with the advent of a more enlightened consumer, it is now easier than ever to find high quality meat and seafood, at your local Whole Foods for example (yea I said it). On the 1st floor you find a nice collection of home goods, and pretty much my favorite thing ever, Hampers! I don’t know what it is, but Hampers really get me excited. I just love the idea of a bunch of really nice things in a basket. That’s it really. I just really want nice things in a basket.
Best Food Hall: Fortnum and Mason, with Harrods a very close 2nd.
Best Place to actually buy stuff: Harvey Nichols
Best in Modern Design: The Conran Shop
Best Tourist Trap: Harrods
The Conran Shop (Chelsea): Michelin House, 81 Fulham road, London, SW3 6RD
Harrods: 87-135 Brompton Rd, London SW1X 7XL
Harvey Nichols: 109 - 125 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7RJ
Fortnum and Mason: 181 Piccadilly, London W1A 1ER