London: The Royal Shopping Tour

Seeking London’s finest things?

Simply look for a Royal Warrant.

By Janis Turk

If you’re longing for a grand tour of London and want the royal treatment, start where the royals shop. Want to find the best of the best in London? Simply follow the lead of London’s ultimate insider: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

But where would the monarch shop or stop for afternoon tea? Who makes Prince Charles’ suits or Camilla’s crazy hats? Where do Prince William and Kate get chocolate truffles or toys for Prince George and Princess Charlotte?

You don’t have to read the tabloids to sleuth such information. There’s a more civilized way to discover the royal favorites. Simply refer to the current list of Royal Warrants of Appointment, which you can find online.

A Royal Warrant is like a royal seal of approval. Businesses and individuals, from the queen’s favorite perfume maker to Prince Phillip’s tailors, are eligible for this coveted distinction. It’s like a royal appointment: Individuals and companies who have supplied goods or services for at least five years to the households of the queen, the duke of Edinburgh or the prince of Wales are eligible for Royal Warrants, and many of these companies have done business with royalty for centuries.

Royal Warrants demonstrate service, quality and excellence, so they are highly prized. Each is careful to maintain the quality of its products and services, or the Royal Warrant might not be renewed.

Since there are 800 Royal Warrant holders in all of England, you won’t have time to visit them all during your vacation, so here are my picks for a few of the top places in London that the royals (and I) recommend.

Let Them Eat Chocolate at Prestat

Take a London taxi to Piccadilly for your first Royal Warrant tour stop at the Princes Arcade, where you’ll find the sweetest thing: the colorful, whimsical shop of Prestat, the chocolatier which has been granted Royal Warrants by the queen and the late queen mother.

Founded by French émigré Antoine Dufour, whose family is credited with having invented the chocolate truffle in France in 1891, this sweet London business dates back to 1902. It also is known as the favorite chocolatier of “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory” author, Roald Dahl, who turned to Prestat for inspiration—and chocolate truffles.

Wear Blue to Fortnum & Mason

When I picture heaven, it looks a lot like Fortnum & Mason, the most enchanting department store on the planet. As you pass through the doors of 181 Piccadilly, you enter a world awash in extravagance and beauty, and it feels as though you’ve stepped back in time.

Founded as a grocery store in 1707, Fortnum & Mason is famed for its myriad choices of loose-leaf tea and luxury picnic hampers, as well as gourmet foods, fine clothing, china, fresh flowers, stationery and anything else you could ever want or imagine.

Fortnum & Mason’s signature color is the palest Georgian blue, and it’s featured throughout the store on everything from tea canisters to ladies scarves. When the queen, the duchess of Cambridge (Camilla) and the duchess of Cornwall (Kate) all took tea together at the London-based luxury department store five years ago, the queen wore Fortnum & Mason blue. The store, which has held numerous Royal Warrants in its more than 150-year history, employs more than 5,000 royal subjects.

Sweet Smell of Success at Penhaligon’s Ltd.

Penhaligon’s is a luxury British perfume house (for men and women) and is a tiny two-floor shop located in Burlington Arcade, a covered shopping arcade that runs behind Bond Street from Piccadilly to Burlington Gardens. Founded in the late 1860s by William Henry Penhaligon, perfumer to Queen Victoria, Penhaligon’s earned its first Royal Warrant in 1903.

Room with a View at the Goring Hotel

For one hundred years, the Goring family has owned a small luxury hotel that sits practically in Buckingham Palace’s backyard in the handsome Belgravia area. It’s that family tie and the Goring’s dedication to perfection that has garnered royal attention for the classy hotel.

The coronations of George VI and the present queen saw the hotel filled with foreign royalty attending these great occasions. The Goring pastry chef made Prince Charles’ christening cake when he was a baby, and when Kate Middleton spent the night before her Westminster Abby nuptials, she, her mother and her sister shared the luxurious royal suite and booked the entire hotel for family and friends. When heads of state, presidents, celebrities and royalty come to London, many stay at the Goring as well.

To learn more about the Royal Warrant Holders, visit RoyalWarrant.org, and for more about all the exciting things London has to offer, see VisitLondon.com and VisitEngland.com, and VisitBritain.com. Visit the Goring online at TheGoring.com.

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