During the 19th century, a new type of store emerged in which you could get various types of products in a single building. Known as department stores, this type of business turned out to be a total success that remains today. Europe marked the beginning of department stores as we know them today and continues to host several of the most prominent stores around the world. Here you can learn more about the best European department stores. We will tell you about their history, the products they sell, which are and where their flagship stores are located and what makes them special.
10. Harvey Nichols
Harvey Nichols is not only a benchmark among the best European department stores but is a symbol within the luxury industry in Britain. Although it has direct competition from Selfridges and Harrods (which we will also talk about later) it has nothing to envy being visited by thousands of people every day in its 7 stores within Britain and Ireland. Its largest store is the one that started it all, which is located in London, more specifically in Knightsbridge.
Once you enter the store you can see its spectacular and modern beauty department, where you can buy the best products of important makeup, perfumes & body care brands. Once you go up to the first floor you will start to see the large number of top-notch fashion designers who have a space here including Stella McCartney, Valentino, Isabel Marant or Victoria Beckham, as well as brands such as Alice + Olivia, Max Mara and Kenzo. Its shops in Leeds, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham and Dublin are also quite good and well worth visiting.
If you visit Moscow someday and go to the famous Red Square, you will see a huge department store with a history dating back more than 100 years. Its name is GUM, it is the largest in the whole country and one of the largest in Europe. Its design is extremely elegant and luxurious, just walking through the store and seeing its incredible glass ceiling makes it worth the visit. More than a common department store you will notice that it looks more like a shopping center, since most brands have an independent space.
Some of the best stores within GUM are Barbour, Hugo Boss, Fendi, Dior or Twinset as well as several Russian brands. In addition to shopping, you can also go to see an art exhibition in the gallery located inside the same store. There are also several restaurants and cafes (as well as food shops such as Gastronome plus one where you can buy the best caviar in the world) and even a cinema.
8. Marks & Spencer
They do not sell luxury brand products, nor do their shops have the best decoration. But there is no doubt that Marks & Spencer is one of the best European department stores. They have opened many stores throughout Britain and abroad since opening the first one more than 140 years ago. Many people know them from the supermarket in the vast majority of their locations. They sell very good fresh products, as well as meats, cookies, sweets, wines, cheeses or bread.
Obviously it is not the only good thing about them, since its clothing section is also quite good. You will see very good designs in fashion for the whole family and it is also not expensive. In their stores you can also buy furniture, home decor products or flowers. It is also one of the most visited shops to buy Christmas decorations. Marks & Spencer has his own mascot: Percy The Pig, which has been dubbed by various celebrities like Tom Holland in their commercials.
Not even the destruction caused by the World War II has succeeded in stopping the history of Kaufhaus des Westens as one of the best European department stores in history. Located in Berlin, it is also known as KaDeWe which is the abbreviation of its name, which being translated into English would be: the department store of the West. It was rebuilt in the 50s and now looks better than ever. It is the second largest in the entire continent and as you can imagine, it is really immense.
There is something for everyone in this store since although in its first floor is dedicated to the world of luxury fashion in its other floors there are other brands such as Paul & Shark, Tommy Hilfiger, Polo Ralph Lauren or Gant. Sneakers fans will love their shoe section where this type of footwear stands out, especially from high-end brands including Golden Goose and Balenciaga. Luxury also comes to his furniture department where you can find chairs, tables and home decor that cost thousands of euros. Although Berlin has excellent restaurants all over the city, Kaufhaus des Westens is famous for its amazing food hall on the top floor of the store.
6. Le Bon Marche
Paris was one of the cities in which departmental shops became famous, being Le Bon Marche one of the best and that remains popular. Perhaps its building is not as spectacular as that of Galeries Lafayette, but it is quite beautiful (it was even considered one of the most innovative in its time). Being owned by the fashion group LVMH, you can find most of its brands in this store including Dior, Louis Vuitton, Kenzo, Fendi or Celine.
There are also some slightly cheaper pop-up brands that are well worth it. On the other hand, this shop not only sells clothing goods, but also has La Grande Épicerie de Paris. This is one of the most famous food and wine shops in the French capital selling an immense variety of gourmet products.
Although it is a store with more than 100 years of history, Selfridges reached a new fame (especially internationally) thanks to a TV series. Based on the first years of the store, Mr. Selfridge achieved great popularity recovering the glamour and sophistication of the stores from yesterday. But those who have visited this store will know that Selfridges has never lost the prestige of being one of the best British fashion stores. Although it has three other shops, the one located on the iconic Oxford Street in London is the most impressive of all.
The idea of its founder was to make shopping a fun activity and not just an obligation. That’s why thanks to its innovative ideas it quickly managed to position itself as one of the most modern and groundbreaking stores in its time. That philosophy continues today so when you visit this store you will notice that its design is both current and elegant, always looking to offer the best products. Another of its shops not to be missed is the one in Birmingham with an ultra modern design that has won several architecture awards.
4. El Corte Inglés
Unlike others of the best European department stores that only have one or a few locations, El Corte Inglés has several dozen stores throughout Spain. It is a benchmark in the fashion industry of that country serving its inhabitants and tourists for more than 80 years. Something that distinguishes this chain is that you can find from a pencil to a bag from the most exclusive brand. It is impressive the amount of products that you can find in one of the stores of El Corte Inglés since in addition to their clothing department they sell toys, accessories, shoes, medicines, furniture and even DIY products.
You can also go grocery shopping here as they have a large supermarket and a restaurant area in many of their shops. As you can imagine, its best shops are located in the largest cities in Spain including Madrid, Barcelona or Valencia. Particularly in Madrid they have quite spectacular shops in which they include the top fashions from all around the world including several of the most outstanding Spanish fashion brands of the moment.
3. La Rinascente
Whether you visit their store in Rome, in Milan, Florence or any of the other Italian cities where they are present, you can see why La Rinascente is one of the best European department stores. The most famous and largest of all is the one in beautiful Milan. Enjoying an unbeatable location near Piazza Duomo, this large ten-story store has everything from a supermarket to one of the most amazing beauty departments you’ve ever seen.
Luxury is what predominates in this store as practically all famous brands of this type are here. Many department stores have stayed in the past, but La Rinascente is always looking for new ways to innovate. That’s why it opened a space known as ANNEX where it brings together several modern fashion brands that are the favorites of teenagers and young adults including a large selection of sneakers and street style clothing.
2. Galeries Lafayette
A legend in the fashion industry that can not miss the list of the best European department stores is Galeries Lafayette. Paris is one of the cities with the most fashion stores in the world, but this is one that stands out above all. If the selection of fashion brands is wonderful, the building where the store is located is even more so. This Art Nouveau building will draw the attention of all architecture lovers. But without a doubt the most incredible part of the store is its gigantic glass dome.
Galeries Lafayette is certainly not one of the best shops in the world just because it’s beautiful. It is because of the incredible variety of fashion brands inside that include ready-to-wear collections, shoes and accessories. Of course, a large part of the store is occupied by the most important French brands such as Louis Vuitton, Kenzo or Chanel to which fashion brands from all over the world are added. These range from the most famous to newer and less well known. When you go to this shop you have to go to the top floor where you can have a drink or eat something in the restaurant that is there and admire Paris from the heights.
Harrods is more than a shop, it’s quite an experience. And that’s why it ranks first on our list of the best European department stores. It is located in London being a must for all fashion lovers who go to this impressive city. From the moment you see this store, you can imagine how amazing it is. Its legendary facade as well as its iconic windows showing the best of fashion is indicative of what you will find inside. When you walk through their doors you will be shocked by the huge amount of luxury fashion brands that are here.
Absolutely every major brand in the fashion world has a space in this legendary London store. Even several of those firms fight to have the best space in the store to demonstrate their products and new collections. Even if you do not want to buy anything, it is essential that you visit this shop as it is a tourist attraction. And do not worry because there are also cheaper things since there are also souvenirs with the store´s name on it in addition to a fairly large food area with food from around the world, in addition to desserts and ice cream.