November 21, 2016

London's Oxford Street

After spending a quiet week in England’s West Country, the hustle and bustle of London came as a bit of a shock. Our home for the next ten days would be The Cumberland Hotel, conveniently located at Marble Arch on the doorstep of Oxford Street, the busiest shopping street in Europe. We checked into the hotel, brought our luggage to our room and then set out to explore the neighbourhood. At the top of my list was Selfridges department store.

Marble Arch, London

Many of the big name retailers are here like Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and Top Shop but the star of Oxford Street is Selfridge & Co. (Only Harrods in Knightsbridge is larger.)

Selfridges on Oxford Street

As a fan of the Mr. Selfridge TV series, I couldn’t wait to walk through the doors of the high end department store founded by Harry Gordon Selfridge. The innovative American businessman revolutionized shopping by displaying merchandise where customers could examine it and was the first to locate perfume and cosmetics on the main floor. The Selfridge chain is now a holding of the Canadian Weston family.

Selfridges Oxford Street Entrance

Little of the original store remains except for the bronze statue, The Queen of Time, which stands above the Oxford Street entrance and a small exhibit of Selfridge memorabilia on the fourth floor.

Queen of Time, by Gilbert Bayes

Harry Gordon Selfridge

Selfridges Team Member Top Hat

Mr. Selfridge's Inkpot

Roof Garden Advertisement (1915)

Forest on the Roof (2016)

Entrance to Forest on the Roof

The store's bronze art deco lift is now on display at the Museum of London.

Selfridges Lift (1928), Museum of London

Lift Car Interior

Lift Doors

The luxury goods at Selfridges were out of my price range but I could afford a sandwich and a bag of crisps from the food hall. We also bought fresh strawberries and a bottle of wine at the Marks and Spencer flagship store across the street. We then returned to our hotel room with our purchases and my friend cried out, “Our luggage. It’s gone!”

I made a frantic call to the front desk.

Ten minutes later there was a knock at our door. I looked through the peep hole and saw a cart loaded with our luggage (which had been moved to another room in error). I’ve never been so happy to see my bags!

My Tip for the Day:
Quick and inexpensive meals-to-go (including wine) can be purchased in department store food halls.


  1. A few years ago I arrived in Munich and my luggage never made it to my room. After a few agonizing hours, the hotel realized that they had somehow booked me into two rooms and the luggage went to one room while I was given a key for the other. Disaster avoided.

    1. Isn't that an awful feeling? I'm so glad that you too had a happy ending.

  2. My grandfather, as a young trainee architect drew some of the designs on the doorways of Selfridges.

  3. How wonderful to play a part in such an interesting company.


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