Everybody loves to spend a day wondering around the shops in a big city. ‘Destination Retail’ is becoming a catchphrase heard across global news stations and a mantra for anyone who works in retail to repeat while striving towards this oasis of leisure activity. But what does it mean? Who is doing it and how? In the first London Life we look at one of Britain’s most iconic brands and how they are tackling the question of creating experience shopping, right in the centre of London’s bustling West End.
The August bank holiday saw the final 22 BHS stores close their doors to the public following the company falling into administration in April 2016. The collapse of this family orientated business saw the loss of over 11,000 jobs and affected the pensions of over 22,000 people. The demise of such an iconic British brand opened the door for questions about the future of retail and how the high street can adapt if it is to keep up with the ever changing consumer society.
I was lucky enough to head along to ‘The Garden Society’, which is the new John Lewis roof garden in their iconic flagship store on Oxford Street. A great place to start looking for this consumer experience shopping I’ve heard so much about.
It was a great experience from the outset. As you walk into the store you’re directed to the fifth floor, right at the top of the building. Up one more short flight of stairs (there is a lift if you can’t face the stair climb) and you arrive at the roof garden, greeted on arrival by some friendly John Lewis employees directing you either to the bar or the restaurant area of the gardens. As you can see the area is decked out like a secret garden, full of plants and herbs, all there to make you feel completely at ease as your daily stresses melt away. Grabbing a cocktail from the pop-up wooden bar you head out onto the terrace to get a seat overlooking the London skyline. A beautiful setting by anyone’s standards, the roof garden offers a peaceful laid back oasis in the heart of London’s busiest high street.
I would highly recommend trying out a couple of the cocktails including the Cucumber Cooler or a NT G&T (a take on the traditional gin and tonic with a twist and a fresh slice of blood orange). There are plenty of options including beers on tap and a variety of wine choices. The bartenders are friendly and offer great advice when it comes to tastes and matching up the right drink for you. With cups of lavender and mint at your fingertips not only is a feast for the eyes but also a great multisensory experience capitalising on the odd gust of wind to blow the various herb combinations around the bar.
Opening times vary, depending on the day of the week, so for an after work drink I would recommend heading there on a Thursday or Friday as it’s open late until 10pm. Although I would bring a jacket, as it can get quite breezy up there on Level 6.
Find a full list of opening times and their great cocktail menu by visiting their website: Here