Many people already know that London is a shopping paradise for many Brits and foreign visitors but during Christmas shopping becomes even more fun. Head to central London around Oxford Circus and Regent Street or Knightsbridge not only to snatch some good deals and buy gifts for the loved ones, but also check out their bespoke Christmas shops and themed window displays beautifully designed and executed.
If you are looking for the most exquisite Christmas decorations and overall great shopping experience, I suggest my personal top 5 department stores. Their Christmas shops are best in town and offer everything one needs for a perfect Christmas!
Fortnum and Mason
I decided to start with one of my favorite places in London – Fortnum and Mason (F&M) department store. It is such a beautiful store both inside and outside that every visit there becomes a special experience.
Opened in 1707 as a food shop, it continues to be famous for its high-quality produce of exotic tea blends, coffees, and sweets. Its hampers and picnic basket are world famous, but not many probably know that F&M also carry a wide range of gifts, from men’s and women’s accessories and beauty products to gadgets and even home appliances and kitchenware.
After checking out F&M’s window display which usually showcases best of its products selection, such as cakes and champagne, head upstairs to the Christmas shop.
Every year this big room is transformed into an opulent living room with a big projected fireplace and two big comfy chairs, several themed Christmas trees and stuffed toy bears standing to greet daily customers.
Address: 181Piccadilly, London W1A 1ER
Not far from F&M, you will find Liberty, another old (1875) and very different department store. The Regent Street building, partly built out of timber from two ships in Tudor-style architecture, will leave you at awe.
It’s grand and impressive yet intimate and cozy with narrow wooden staircases, old fashioned elevators, balconies and high glass ceiling. Famous for its own prints (check out their collection of Liberty print scarves and bags), today Liberty is a shopping destination for upscale goods, such as latest men’s and women’s designer collections, jewelry, beauty, accessories, and even homeware and furniture, some of which are scouted and shipped from other, more exotic, parts of the world.
Main items in Liberty Christmas shop’s collection usually stay the same year after year, which means it’s easy to find old favorites. For example, I always love their toy advent calendars and selection of nutcrackers and other decorations. In the other room you can find great stocking stuffers – from sweets to board games and stationary.
Address: Liberty London, Regent Street, London W1B 5AH
My husband and I love, love John Lewis! Although it’s an upmarket department store, it’s still affordable and down to earth catering to the middle-class Brits. It’s very light and cosy, so trip to John Lewis at the Oxford Street is always such a treat. Plus, we have John Lewis rewards card which means we get coupons for shopping discounts and yummy treats at its upstairs café.
John Lewis Christmas advert has become a bit of a tradition with millions of people eagerly awaiting its release. This year the ad features Buster the Boxer and his wildlife friends.
So the window displays are decorated according to the advert’s theme and feature a number of carefully selected products that John Lewis sells.
Once having a peak at its windows, head to the 4th floor and check out its Christmas shop which always has a great bright vibe and has decorations according to different themes – Chamonix, Helsinki, Shangri-La… The store stocks everything – from standing Santas and various baubles and lights to Christmas trees and gift food and drinks. Apart from each year buying several new ornaments, we also bought our faux Christmas tree here and even Christmas tree scenticles that make the whole flat small like Norwegian pine forest!
Address: 300 Oxford St, Marylebone, London W1C 1DX
Next on my list is Selfridges.
For those of you who have watched Mr. Selfridge series, you would be well familiar with the history of this store. Opened in 1909, it the second biggest luxury department store (after Harrods, see below) in the UK. Selfridges is very hip and stylish, more on the younger side and is always crowded with local and foreign (mostly Chinese) fashionistas. Selfridges have ones of the most elaborate window displays that are large and impressive, featuring top designer items, be it jumpers from Kenzo, bag from YSL or kitten flats from Charlotte Olympia.
The Christmas shop is very bright and modern in line with the overall atmosphere of the store.
Address: 400 Oxford Street, London W1A 1AB
Even though it’s much loved by the tourists and wealthier Londoners, Harrods is my least favorite department store.
To me, it’s slightly dated and traditional and feels a bit too opulent and colonial. Also, almost everything in Harrods is branded giving the store a more commercial and less soulful feel.
However, their Christmas shop was quite attractive and had several rooms, each decorated according to a different theme. For example, one corner had souvenirs and ornaments from the Buckingham Palace (for those who didn’t get time to visit it), while another looked like a posh Christmas lodge.
Harrods is also one of the best places to buy Britannia-inspired and London-themed gifts and decorations.
However, due to its name and status, be prepared to pay top pound for Harrods Christmas decorations and accessories. For example, a vintage looking Father Christmas will cost you over £300, while real fur stockings run for £349 each!
Address: 87-135 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL
As you can see, we, Londoners, are spoilt for choice when it comes to shopping for Christmas gifts and decorations. So take advantage of these amazing shops and make it a memorable shopping experience. And if you are lucky, you might even run into Father Christmas himself!