When thinking of going out for shopping, Harrods generally isn’t at the top of my list. It’s not that I don’t like the place but I just assume that most of what’s there will be priced out of my range.
£350 for a baby-sized Loro Piana sweater for your 3-month-old anyone?
As you walk through the store, you see glimpses of another world, where infants wear thousand-dollar diamond-encrusted metal cubes on a bracelet, and where the Children’s Essentials range includes nightwear, underwear, swimwear and (obviously) skiwear. Because how can you live without skiwear?
Walking through the children’s clothing section I discovered that all the major designers seem to have cashed on in the obsession with dressing one’s children up regardless of the cost, with brands such as Roberto Cavalli, Loro Piana, Gucci, Melissa Odabash, Dolce & Gabbana and (again, not kidding…) La Perla all competing for space your tiny person’s wardrobe.
And of course you know they’ll grow out of it in a couple of months.
But once you’ve walked through all of those brands and you’ve made your eyes bleed, you begin to spot a few other parts of the children’s sections where they sell normal things, and surprisingly enough at prices that match those in ordinary high street shops. Brands that (while still expensive) are much more affordable such as Petit Bateau.
Now you can buy Petit Bateau anywhere (we have a shop in Notting Hill), but there are three very good reasons to make a trip to Harrods with baby in tow.
The first reason is that the store is fantastic in and of itself. I’m a man so I’ll refrain from words like gorgeous or stunning, but it’s a very nice place to walk around and there’s a lot to see if you have the discipline to leave your wallet in your pocket. It’s a bit like going to a museum of modern consumerism, all prettily decked out for your visiting pleasure.
A second reason, closely related to the first, is that it’s a nice place to spend time even if you’re not shopping or performing an anthropological study on the consumer habits of people with incalculable amounts of money. The staff are lovely to everyone, regardless of what you’re purchasing (or not), it’s huge with a wide variety of things to see and you can find places to eat that – while not cheap – are very nice. Check the price on the menus before sitting down.
But the major reason, as my wife will happily tell you, is the baby changing facilities in the children’s section of the store. I’d love to show you a picture but unfortunately the one I took is way too blurry. Near the entrance to this section is a discreet little area where you can change your baby – it’s very clean, maintained by someone who’s there permanently, and it has (and this is the really important part) two feeding rooms which are incredibly well appointed.
Now as a man I can only vaguely imagine the degree of happiness such a place can bring to a breastfeeding mother, but having witnessed it first hand, it’s a bit like winning the lottery.
So yes, it’s terrifying because your wife ends up saying “why don’t we spend some time in Harrods” a lot, but it’s one of those rare places in London where it’s not just OK to bring a baby, but you feel like they’ve gone out of their way to make sure that it’s really comfortable for both the baby and mother.
Ten out of ten for Harrods on baby-friendliness (can you please fix the lifts, they’re so slow…).