HARRODS CRISIS: Is The World's Most Famous Store Going Downhill?

Harrods window display

I was in London recently, so I stopped by Harrods.

Harrods is the most famous store in the world, so it’s not something you miss. 

And Harrods is also under new ownership.

In 2010, the Egyptian mogul Mohamed Al-Fayed sold Harrods to Qatar for $1.5 billion.

The deal was a big deal. Only a couple of weeks earlier, Al-Fayed had bristled when asked whether he would ever sell Harrods. Then the Prime Minister of Qatar showed up with his checkbook. And, just like that, London’s iconic and historic shopping mecca got flipped to another foreign investor.

So now that Qatar owns Harrods, the obvious question is…  

Is Qatar ruining Harrods?

Based on the crowds that filled the place when I was there, the answer appears to be ‘no.’

But some long-time Harrods watchers I know lament the state of the place. Harrods has gone downhill, they say. Harrods has become less unique. Harrods has become, well, just another department store.

I’m no Harrods expert, so I’ll let you all weigh in on this. I did spend some time in the Harrods famous food halls with my camera, though. So I’ve got some visuals to share.

Those food halls, I must say, certainly seemed plenty unusual and impressive to me…

Harrods was founded in 1824, by Charles Henry Harrod. The flagship store is in the fashionable Knightsbridge district of London. It's now the largest department store in Europe.

Among other things, Harrods is famous for its window displays. This one featured Paddington bears and a smoking hot mannequin.

But enough about the windows. When you walk in, Harrods looks like your dime-a-dozen New York fashion store.

There's a Miu Miu boutique right at the front, for example.

The first thing I saw when I walked into Harrods's food halls was a massive football-sized lobe of foie gras. So that was a promising start.

You can buy plates for your caviar at Harrods, too, by the way. They're gigantic scallop shells.

The counters are manned by sharp-looking gents and ladies in porkpie hats.

Across the room is the fish department. And more dudes with hats.

There's a whole section of the fish department dedicated to crustaceans.

Langoustines, bien sur.

Buckets o' shelled mussels, oysters, clams, etc.

And, of course, you don't just have to shop at Harrods. You can also eat there. In this meat+fish food hall alone, there were 5 restaurants. There was the Oyster Bar...

...and the fish bar...

...and the caviar bar...

...and the steak bar...

The next food hall was dedicated to produce, groceries, picnic baskets, and... Easter.

Life-size chocolate bunnies.

Huge Union Jack eggs (two feet high)

A truly giant Easter egg (three feet) called, quite directly, Giant Easter Egg.

There's a whole special Easter counter.

They'll customise your eggs for you.

You can pick up your Easter flowers, too.

Lest you think you can't buy actual food at Harrods, however, no worries. There's plenty of it.

Jams, for instance.

And East India teas.

In the next hall is the Harrods Fromagerie.

And sandwiches.

And pies. (English pies--meat pies--not the big fruit kind.)

And charcuterie.

...a Taste of India...

...Flavours of Morocco...

...and Flavours of the Middle East.

...and Beef Wellington...

And, of course, Harrods salmon en croute.

And, of course, you can eat at the sushi bar...

...or the dim sum bar, too.

The last big Harrods food hall is devoted to chocolate, coffee, tea, and dessert.

The dudes in hats selling tea don't like having their pictures taken.

But those are a couple of huge honking coffee-bean-dispensing machines.

And you can get more pink champagne truffles than anyone would ever want.

So, that's a taste of today's Harrods food halls. Is the place going downhill? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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