When you’re thinking about eating in London, especially with kids, the gourmet section of a department store may not top your list. But you might want to think again. The Food Halls at Harrods are not only fun as a dining option, they are as beautiful and enjoyable as any museum – perhaps more so because of course you can eat the things you are looking at. I absolutely love the Victorian excesses of this space, complete with peacocks and painted ceilings.
The brass and glass display cases are gorgeous and gleaming – I’m convinced they must have an entire crew dedicated solely to removing fingerprints. My absolute dream would be to stroll through here with a chauffeur from somewhere like Eden Private Staff in tow, piling jars and bundles into his arm to stock the larder of my country estate. With that said, it was pretty fun to let the boys stare in wonder at the displays.
If its sweets you crave, well, you’ve come to right place, whether you’re looking for more traditional treats like marzipan or Turkish delight,
Or prefer cupcakes or whoopee pies in exotic flavors like coconut mango or strawberries and cream.
There is also of course just about any kind of chocolate you could possibly desire, along with a huge range of teas and coffees. And the selection of old-fashioned British candy is huge, as are the lollypops.
Travel-with-kids tip: I was very proud of myself for discovering a fabulous traveler’s secret. Harrods has a Left Luggage office in the lower ground floor where you can check bags for £3 apiece (about $4.50). That’s less than half of what it costs at the train station! I definitely recommend making use of Harrods as a place to stash your bags if you are heading out of town from Paddington and want to do a little sightseeing in the Knightsbridge area first. Also, they don’t want you traipsing through the store with your bags, so you should plan to leave them while you shop if you are stopping on your way to the airport.
The boys of course loved looking at all the candy. But the food is so interesting, varied, and beautifully displayed that sweets weren’t the only source of fascination. We spent a lot of time exploring the fish counter with its ice sculptures and shimmering scales:
Another popular destination was the prepared foods area, where we selected a picnic lunch for our train ride to Bristol later that day. Matt and I chose a variety of Mediterranean and Asian salads including cold sesame noodles that were piquant and silky. The boys went with their old standby of sushi.
Travel-with-kids tip: The Food Halls can get very crowded, but if you arrive right when the store opens at 10 a.m., you’ll likely have the place to yourself even during high tourist season.
If you’d rather eat in, the Food Halls also have a number of counters where you can watch your food being prepared before you eat it.
In addition to lunch, we also purchased breakfast, although unlike one large family we didn’t do so at the ice cream counter. The boys watched goggled eyed as a little boy with huge dark eyes demolished a tremendous pile of ice cream, bananas, whipped cream, and hot fudge served in a boat-shaped dish. Denied that pleasure, they instead chose croissants from the impressive selection of pastries.
Although if we had wanted to, we could have had a strictly American meal of donuts.