The Liberty department store: one of the city’s best addresses

In London, the Liberty department stores’ is one of the city’s “best” addresses. Its unique, all-wooden design gives this temple to shopping a singularly British style. From gift items to luxury goods, everything is here to seduce you. And don’t forget to take a look at the internationally renowned Liberty fabric. What does this department stores’ have to offer and why should you visit? Find out in these lines about Liberty in London.

What exactly is the Liberty shop?

Since it opened in 1875 on Great Marlborough Street in London’s upmarket West End, the Liberty Department Store has been one of the best addresses in the British capital when it comes to luxury goods of all kinds. As well as top-of-the-range fashion for women, men and children, the store also sells jewellery, perfumes, accessories, household appliances, furniture, gifts and stationery, all from prestigious brands.


Liberty is particularly well known for its artistic prints with graphic and floral motifs. The shop has long worked in partnership with many famous designers, artists and brands, including the founder of the Arts and Crafts movement William Morris and the British poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti. There have also been collaborations (some of which are still ongoing) with the fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent and the British stylist and “mother of punk fashion” Vivienne Westwood.

Today, Liberty is as popular with tourists as it is with locals. The shop’s typically British style is truly unique. You can enjoy a huge selection of designer pieces and furnishings, all in an atmosphere that blends tradition and modernity to perfection. Of course, the shop now has a section reserved for more affordable products, which make lovely souvenirs or great gift ideas.

The Liberty story in a nutshell

Punk is emblematic for London. Also in fashion!

Its founding father, the English merchant Sir Arthur Lasenby Liberty (1843-1917), opened his first Liberty & Co. shop on Regent Street. Initially, the products on offer were mainly arts and crafts from the Far East. As the clientele grew, the shop was soon enlarged. In 1884, the fashion department was created and in 1885, the first “oriental bazaar” offering carpets and furniture was inaugurated. From the 1890s, Liberty’s reputation spread beyond the region and became international, particularly with the growing interest in Art Nouveau. The shop’s printed silk fabrics made it a benchmark for this type of product.


In 1917, the founder of Liberty died. The shop was enlarged and renovated in the Tudor style in 1920. The building material used was wood, which came from two warships. Some of the chimneys built at the time still exist today. From 1955 onwards, Liberty opened several branches in different towns in England, but these were all closed in 1966. Nevertheless, the fashion and general atmosphere of the 1960s brought Asian-inspired furniture back into fashion, and this did not fail to benefit the store. Liberty opened a branch in Japan in 1988. In 2010, the department stores’ was bought by BlueGem Capital for £32 million.

Visit Liberty: what to expect

One of London’s finest department stores, Liberty’s vast selection of luxury goods has always been its hallmark. There are thousands of items, all by famous designers. The cosmetics department alone boasts hundreds of high-end, well-established products, many of which are exclusively available at Liberty. The most expensive perfumes cost around £2,000, while some skincare products cost ‘only’ £500. In keeping with the shop’s history, accessories of all kinds for the home and flat make up a large part of its selection.

Best-sellers include cushions with top-of-the-range covers, filigree flower vases and meticulously hand-painted tableware. Fashion also takes pride of place, with silk scarves for men and women, handbags, gold and silver pendants, pyjamas and dressing gowns, glasses, shirts, watches and ties. For their children, Liberty customers are also looking for top-of-the-range, educational, top-quality toys. Illustrated books, stuffed animals and dresses are all popular.

My God… So cute!

Liberty responds to current trends in cooking and food with an extremely varied range. Fine glasses, delicate cutlery, pans, pots, cups, bowls, hourglasses, salt and pepper shakers that will last over time, as well as oven gloves, saucers, trays, tea and coffee sets… There really is almost everything for the discerning cook.

As you stroll through the shelves at Liberty, you’ll be tempted to take home gift bags full of sweets or refined assortments of English tea as souvenirs for your loved ones. Top products such as orange jam, vinegar condiments, chocolate and vanilla fondants, mint chocolate bars and ginger sticks will delight fans of culinary specialities from across the Channel. The shop’s management pays particular attention to the many in-house brands, some of which have been hugely successful for over a century.

Besonders gut gefallen haben mir die Bereiche mit Perser-Teppichen, die Kinder-Kleidungs-Abteilung (die Prinzen- und Prinzessinen-Outfits sind einfach nur putzig!) und der Einrichtungsbereich mit zahlreiche englischen Teeservicen.

Liberty’s famous silk fabrics

From the outset, top-quality fabrics, textiles and other materials have been among the best-selling items in this renowned shop. Liberty’s flagship product is a 25-metre-long roll of custom-made silk in a wide variety of designs, with over 140 different materials on the shelves. Cotton fabrics are also available, with customers able to choose from 340 models. In addition, Liberty offers over thirty other materials in linen, wool, jersey, fleece or sequined, for all kinds of uses. Interior designers will also appreciate the hundred or so decorative fabrics, curtains and pillows on offer, while the haberdashery department boasts over 300 items, a selection that few specialist shops can offer.

In a nutshell

Liberty is world-class, and no other shop in the world has impressed me so much so far. Like you, though, I’ve seen a lot! Even Galeries Lafayette in Paris would struggle to keep up (OK, the Liberty doesn’t have a pretty dome). Liberty is at the cutting edge in every respect, from the choice of items on offer to their presentation. There are many, many departments to discover, all more extensive than the previous ones. Go there with your eyes closed, even if you have nothing to buy!

Why is Liberty called the “boat shop”?

If you’ve already read a bit about the Liberty, you’ll sooner or later hear it referred to as the ‘boat shop’. You’ll notice its somewhat unusual architecture, which is mainly made of wood, like a half-timbered house. The interior architecture is also very delicate, and made almost entirely of wood.

This wood is the source of the Liberty’s nickname: the storeboat. It comes from a ship, the HMS Hindustan, which was launched in 1805 to import premium spices from India. In the 1820s, part of the ship’s hull was sold to Liberty and incorporated into the shop… which is exactly the same length as HMS Hindustan.

Liberty or Harrods?

When you don’t have much time to visit London’s department stores, you often ask yourself the following question: Liberty or Harrods? Which is more successful? Which should I visit first?

Unfortunately, there is no unanimous answer to this question, as the two shops are very different; some prefer Liberty, others Harrods. In either case, you won’t make a bad choice, but you might want to consider the following criteria, which I’ll give you as a guide:

  • Liberty London isslightly smaller, with a warmer, more intimate atmosphere thanks to its wooden architecture.
  • On the other hand, Harrodshisbigger, particularly grandiose, and also more chic.

In any case, both shops are very British, each in its own way, and you won’t be disappointed by your visit!

Liberty at Christmas time

You must visit London at Christmas at least once in your life. All over the city, shops, restaurants and bars are beautifully decorated, helping to instil the Christmas spirit. The Liberty is no exception. In November and December, it is transformed into a winter wonderland.

Every department in the shop is beautifully decorated for the festive season. There is of course a section dedicated to Christmas decorations (in a British style that is perhaps a little kitsch) and you will also find some good gift ideas for £10 to £15. I chose, for example, a pretty box containing two types of English mustard. If you have a family member who loves to sew, a metre of Liberty fabric is just the thing (expect to pay around £15 to £25 per metre for ordinary fabrics).

If you’re travelling to London over the Christmas period, then Liberty is well worth a visit, and you’ll be able to pick up many of your gifts there.

Admission prices

Admission to the Liberty is, of course, free.

Opening times

The Liberty shop is open 7 days a week:

  • Monday to Saturday: 10am to 8pm
  • Sunday: 11.30am to 6pm

Liberty only closes on Easter Sunday. Christmas opening times are announced each year a few weeks before the festive season.

How do I get to the Liberty shop in London?

The Liberty shop is located in central London, not far from Oxford Street, at 11 Mare St, London E8 4RP.

The nearest underground station is Oxford Circus, served by the Bakerloo, Central and Victoria lines. If you prefer to travel on one of the red double-decker buses, get off at Oxford Circus or Great Tichfield Street Oxford Circus.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *