Synonymous with style, sophistication and its beautiful mock Tudor building, this iconic department store is just a stone’s throw from Regent Street. And even if you’d rather stick pins in your eyes than go shopping normally, a trip to Liberty is something a little bit different. This 140-year-old retail legend is filled with an eclectic mix of high-end items, iconic prints and luxury furnishings - plus atmosphere by the bucketload. A feast for the eyes both outside and in, it’s become a tourist attraction in its own right - and a great place to visit if you’re in town on a sightseeing city break.
To get your shopping trip to London off to the best possible start, why not book into a central London Premier Inn hotel? With comfy beds and great breakfasts it will give you a little taste of luxury without the eye-watering price tag.
Inspired by his 10-year stint working in retail, Arthur Liberty decided to open his own Regent Street store. Using a £2,000 loan from his future father-in-law, he took on the lease of a small shop in 1875, with the help of just three staff.
Liberty sold rugs, ornaments and artefacts from the East and was a huge success right from the start. But the store became even more prestigious in the 1890s when it showcased the work of English Art Nouveau designers.
Arthur Liberty commissioned the building of new premises in the 1920s, but died before the store moved into its mock-Tudor home. But he’d have been pleased with the result. The timber for the famous facade came from wreckage of two ships, the HMS Impregnable and HMS Hindustan, whilst inside, tiered galleries rose up around an indoor courtyard that’s reminiscent of a Tudor Hall.
Sandwiched between the shopping destinations of Oxford Circus, Regent’s Street and Carnaby Street, Liberty is right in the middle of the city.
Liberty is just off both Oxford and Regent Street so it’s served by buses aplenty. You can hop on the 3, 6, 12, 13, 15, 23, 53, X53, 88, 94, 139, 159 and the C2. Try to get off as near as you can to Oxford Circus Tube station.
The nearest Tube station at a two-minute walk away is Oxford Circus, where you have a choice of the Central, Bakerloo and Victoria lines. Piccadilly Circus and Bond Street are both an eight-minute walk away.
For mainline stations, Charing Cross is the nearest, but it’s about a 20-minute walk away, or you could hop on the Bakerloo Line. Or there’s Euston Station where you could get on the Victoria Line to Oxford Circus.
Add a personal touch to your Liberty gifts by getting them monogrammed. Available while you wait on Tuesdays 12 – 4pm and Thursdays 3 – 7pm, you can choose from gold or silver foil initials at about £5 per letter.
Forget modern shopping centres that all look the same. Liberty has timber staircases and minstrels’ galleries that look down onto a central Tudor hallway - you’ll feel like you’re in a film set rather than a department store!
The full address of the Liberty department store is Regent Street, London W1B 5AH. There are entrances and exits all around the store, but, the main entrance is on Great Marlborough Street. The store is open seven days a week, from 10am to 8pm on Monday to Saturday and on Sundays from 12pm until 6pm. If you have any queries, you can contact the store on 020 7734 1234.
Before you go in, look up towards the roof - the weathervane is an exact model of the Mayflower, which took English pilgrims to America in 1620. Dotted around the store are the shields of Shakespeare and Henry VIII’s six wives. And look out on the staircases for the wooden carved war memorials, dedicated to Liberty staff who lost their lives in wars.
The main entrance on Great Marlborough Street and the entrance to the beauty hall are step free, but don’t have automatic doors. Once inside, there are accessible toilet on both the first and fourth floor. There are plenty of lifts, but many of them are original, so quite small, with space for only one wheelchair plus a walking companion.
Luxury shopping, staff that treat you like royalty, and Liberty prints galore - a trip to this department store is an experience like no other. Here are some of our highlights.
When it comes to clothes, Liberty stock all things designer, from big brands to the hippest, up-and-coming names. For true one-offs, the Designer Vintage department has everything from retro Chanel bags to one-off wedding dresses and each piece is hand-sourced and professionally restored. There’s also a florist, a giant selection of hats and scarves, and a department where you can buy pretty much anything you think of in Liberty print. But for a real taste of what Liberty must have been like in Arthur Liberty’s day, a trip to the rug room is a must. Draped in handmade Oriental and Persian carpets that look like they might fly off the wall on a quest for a magic lamp, you’ll think you’re in a souk, rather than the fourth floor of a department store.
Apart from looking and feeling luxurious, the beauty hall at Liberty is well-known for being at the cutting edge of the products and treatments. There are counters that you won’t find anywhere else, with brands such as Biologique Recherche, Byredo Heliotropia, Votary and ODeJo. Or tuck yourself away in a spa room for the very latest in skincare treatments, with Dermalogica facials tailormade to your skin type to laser and light therapy at Skin Laundry. Men aren’t left out either - you can find Murdock London in our menswear department on the lower ground floor. Murdock offers a range of indulgent shaving treatments, haircuts, facials and male manicures, which will leave you feeling relaxed, refreshed and looking your best.
While it’s great to visit Liberty at any time of the year, the store really comes into its own at Christmas. A trip to see its Yuletide window displays has become as much of a tradition as ice skating at Somerset House. The Christmas department on the top floor is so beautifully traditional, it could make even the most hardened Scrooge feel festive. With everything you need to deck the halls in designer style, look out for the signature Liberty baubles and crackers, and gorgeous old-fashioned wreaths. The Christmas shop sits on the fourth floor in the East Gallery and East Atrium.
In need of a pitstop after all that luxury shopping? Liberty has just one cafe - called Cafe Liberty - but if nothing on the menu there takes your fancy, you’re just a stone’s throw from Soho, with its wealth of eating and drinking options to satisfy any culinary craving.
A haven from the hectic shopping experience that is Oxford Street, a trip to Cafe Liberty should be an essential part of your visit to the iconic department store. As you’d expect, it’s all very stylish. In fact, every detail has been well-thought out, right down to the animal-shaped salt and pepper shakers. You can come from breakfast, lunch or dinner, but there’s a decidedly tea shop ambience about the place that will make you crave some little finger sandwiches and cakes. Luckily, the afternoon tea here doesn’t disappoint and you may be tempted to upgrade your brew to a glass of fizz. Surprisingly for a cafe in central London it’s dog-friendly, so expect to see handbag-sized pooches aplenty.
If your trip to Liberty has made you feel like you’ve stepped back in time, head round the corner to The Clachan on Kingly Street. Gaelic for ‘meeting place’, there’s been a pub here since the late 1700s, but this ornate Victorian pub dates from 1898. Traditional-looking on the outside, little inside has changed since the pub was owned by Liberty’s - with a lovely wooden decor, carvings, ornate mirrors, a Victorian tiled floor and an impressive circular bar. This hidden gem is full of character, and the food and drink doesn’t disappoint either. Expect real ales, great wines and a menu filled with British comfort food. If you’re still hungry after your venison and Malbec wine pie, you can always order the rhubarb crumble.