Last weekend I spent one of the busiest, most exciting and expensive weekends of my life in London.
Last weekend I spent one of the busiest, most exciting and expensive weekends of my life in London. As we were visiting a friend of ours who now lives in the capital, my group decided to avoid the usual tourist excursions and instead try to live like the locals. We did, however, allow ourselves one exception—Harrods.
Yes, that towering emporium of all things opulent was too much of a temptation for us poor students, dreaming of wealth and success. I personally refused to leave London without one of their signature green and gold carrier bags, even if all I could afford was some chocolate. So off we went on the tube (I know, from the sublime to the ridiculous, right?) to Knightsbridge to find this Aladdin’s cave. It was pretty easy to spot—we just looked for the green canopies with hordes of tourists underneath and joined the queue to get inside.
We entered somewhere near the Egyptian Hall. For those who don’t know, Harrods certainly don’t do things by half measures. The Egyptian Hall is as magnificent as any Pharaoh’s tomb, with beautiful sandy sculptures of sphinxes and cornicing of intricate hieroglyphics. My friends and I shuffled along gingerly, not quite knowing what to look at or how to take it all in.
Next up on our tour was the new Dior exhibition. The section of the store we were in had been transformed into a mini grey castle with beautiful Dior couture incongruously dotted around the façade. In the window, little Dior handbags whizzed around a mini Harrods scene on moving London buses. This alone was worth having a nosey at.
My friends and I decided to have a wander round the ladies’ department. At the bottom of the escalators were strange metal poles, placed exactly in the middle so they were difficult to negotiate around. My friend told me these were to stop pushchairs. I however, have another theory—they are fat-o-meters. ‘If you can’t fit round the poles, we won’t stock clothes in your size so don’t even bother coming up here,’ was the message I got. We didn’t linger long in the clothes department. It was too depressing looking at the beautiful Burberry trench coats and Prada dresses we couldn’t afford.
It is hard to comprehend how big Harrods actually is. The staff genuinely ask you after you’ve purchased something, “Would you like any directions round the store?” My friends and I truly felt its labyrinth effects when we went on the hunt for the cigar room. First we had to find the set of stairs to take us to that area of the ground floor, for not all of them did, then we circumnavigated past the pharmacy, through the men’s shoes department, through the bank (yes, Harrods has its own bank, I kid you not), off from the food court and into the fine wines room.
The cigar room itself was like a little space pod, with pressurised doors that made a sound like a vacuum when they opened. This was to maintain the perfect level of humidity for the luxury goods inside. The man who served my friends is to me the epitome of why Harrods has the reputation it does. He was exceptionally knowledgeable and helpful without ever being patronising or snobbish.
With the cigars bought by my friends and chocolates in a signature green bag by me, our Harrods adventure had reached its end. One thing my group all agreed on was that our visit to the store only confirmed our desire to be well-off and well-known. To experience that level of luxury, that standard of service and the extreme beauty of Harrods every day, that is truly something to aspire to.