Harrods is #23 in my London Bucket List
The last time I went to Harrods I was still getting pocket money (10p a week), so I might be able to afford something this time. But what shall I buy? I think the cheapest thing they sell in here is a cheese and ham roll for a million quid, but I'm going to have a look around anyway and see what's on offer.
It's worth a visit just for a look at the building. Can you see all those lightbulbs on the outside? There's thousands of them. If you come back at nighttime then the whole place is lit up like a Christmas tree. It looks like Chevy Chase's house in his Christmas Lampoon movie.
The first thing that you need to know about Harrods is that they've got bouncers on the door. Not big burly ones with tattoos on their faces, but little elderly guys in olive green gloves and frock coats and hats. I'm pretty sure that there's a dress code, but judging by some of the shoppers in here today maybe they have relaxed the rules. They let me in, for starters: so that is clear evidence of a drop in standards. Apparently this is where Buckingham Palace gets all of their groceries from, but I've never seen the Queen walking around with her shopping trolley. They had a bit of a falling out a few years ago when Mohamed Al-Fayed was in charge, because he always blamed the palace for Princess Diana's car crash (in which his son also died). He even had a cheesy statue of them in the foyer, locked in a big kiss, but he flogged the shop off to some rich Arabs a few years ago, and I'm guessing they chucked it in the bin because it was rubbish. (Sorry Diana, but you know it's true!)
The sweet hall is like Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory. But instead of orange Oompa Loompas running around you've got movie-star staff who look like catwalk models. The sweets look like they have been magicked up by elves in some factory out the back -- there are orange segments dipped in dark chocolate for two quid a go. Stem gingers and decorated truffles, rose cream fondants with rose paper petals. Bright pink macaroons for three quid fifty (about the same size as a button) and little whipped cones in edible golden paper (probably made of real gold).
They are starting to put out all of their Christmas treats now, so there are stacks and stacks of shortbread biscuits and Turkish Delight, with posh mince pies and brandy pies and rich Christmas puds.
Check out the fish and meat room too -- all of the rooms are fabulously ornate, but the food halls are the best. This one comes with an army of butchers in straw boaters and striped blue and white aprons. They've got a sitdown cavier bar as well, if you feel like sampling some of that.
They've got lots of exotics fruits on show, like flat peaches and dates direct from Jordan, coconuts from Thailand, pomegranates from Peru and nuts from all over the place (too many to mention). The carrots in here are actually straight (they must stretch them out) and the potatoes look like they have stepped straight out of the bath. I have never seen such a clean and polished potato in my life. Their button mushrooms are whiter than my teeth! And don't even get me started on the lettuces -- their green leaves look like they have been arranged by a hairdresser.
If you want something affordable to eat then check out the boulangerie. They've got some bread rolls in there that are so overstuffed with ham and salad and cheeses that they look like they are about to explode. Do you remember trying to pack your suitcase before going on holiday, and having to sit down on the top to get it shut? Well that is what the bakers must have done to get so much food inside their sandwiches.
The Egyptian Hall is worth a look, too. That's where they keep all the women's clothes and handbags, so I didn't stick around very long, but it's full of carved stone columns and obelisks, with decorated palms and mosaics all over the place. It's nicely low lit, and I especially like the way that you can see the craftsmen hard at work, stitching together custom made handbags for the ladies. Don't just look at the first Egyptian thing you come across and leave, though. Because what you need to see is the Egyptian escalator in the middle of the shop -- wow!
I thought I might be able to afford something in the stationary section but the fountain pens were 400 quid a pop. They've got some really nice pads and notebooks too -- all leather bound with delicate golden braid.
It's September at the moment and they've got their Christmas decorations up. You should see the tinsel and lights hanging from the ceiling. All their baubles seem to be custom made and chiseled in feather-leaf wood. They are fifteen quid each but they could have come straight from a little Bavarian forest workshop they are so pretty. Some of their decorations are actually encrusted with crystals and jewels and the snow globes seem to have little bits of silver in them. The stockings are all thick and knitted by grandmas, not glued together by factory kids. They've got a roaring fireplace in there as well and it's all very traditional looking, like you'd get in Victoria's day. This is how Charles Dickens would decorate his tree.
I finally managed to find a coffee place that doesn't seem too expensive -- it's called ca'puccinos one level down from the street, and it's staffed by very pretty women and blokes in pin-stripe suits. I only ordered a coffee but it came with a slice of cake and set me back five quid.
And last but not least... your little sightseeing trip should definitely include a look inside the toilets and the lift. Yes, I am serious... the toilets and the lift. If you want to wee in luxurious surroundings then this is where to do it (the toilets, I mean, not the lift). They've got one of those blokes in the corner who passes you paper towels and sprays perfume onto your hands (surely the most pointless job in history).
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