At this time of year, Norwich’s only independent department store is transformed into a beautiful, glittering haven for Christmas shoppers. From the outside, Jarrolds (which opened its doors in 1823) glows with bright bulbs draped, Victorian-pier style, all over the ornate 19th century building – a recognisable landmark for Norwich folk everywhere. Inside, you’ll find 5 floors housing 50 different departments, all elegantly decked with lights and Christmas greenery, with touches of sparkle everywhere.
I got the same feeling walking around Jarrolds that I do watching the end of Home Alone 2: warm, fuzzy, and sort of relieved. It’s a remarkably calm shopping experience, and the store is just the right size that you feel neither overwhelmed or stuck for choice while you’re there. Not only that, but there’s a hair salon and a day spa, and three restaurants and a wine bar, so if you feel like a break/post-shop reward, you don’t even need to leave the building.
Coming in from the cold, Jarrolds feels immediately welcoming. Walking straight into the beauty department, you’ll find well known brands as well as smaller, more independent labels. Especially as Christmas Party season looms, there are plenty of staff on hand to help you get your eyebrows together before the big occasion! The perfume department is extensive and diverse, with some irresistible London names such as Penhaligons and Floris in stock. Beside the perfumes are my own personal vice: scented candles. Hundreds of them, all in enticing rows, in intriguing flavours like Wood Smoke and Winter Jasmine. There’s even one that will make your living room smell like Love. And opposite the candles (which you can find alongside other suave gifts, cards and stationery), there’s a fabulous, life-sized Happy Socks Christmas tree, which is over a metre of foot fun. The Men’s Fashion department is exceptionally high quality, with pristine arrangements of shirts (including additions from the incredible Lloyd Attree & Smith) and glorious spectrums of coloured ties.
Descending the stairs, you walk straight into neat displays of china and crockery, with something for every taste (fans of earthy minimalism will love Denby’s Natural Canvas collection). Meandering through vibrant china, elegant copper pans, and all sorts of coffee-related gadgets, you’ll wander into the sumptuous (and newly refurbished) Deli, complete with a contemporary wine bar (!). There’s all sorts here – if you’re up to the challenge of making Christmas hampers this year, Jarrolds will make it easy for you. Choose from a wide and unusual range of treats and drinks, with products such as jams, cheeses, teas, chocolate, biscuits, spirits and wines to choose from (many of them locally produced in Norfolk). And on the other side of the floor, you’ll find the cosy Jarrolds book department, selling all sorts of titles for all sorts of ages (and tastes!).
Stuck for an outfit for your Christmas party or Christmas Day itself? Forgotten that it’s coat weather now? Been tasked with buying a jumper for your mother? You’ll find the solution to your problems here. Jarrolds has an entire floor dedicated to Women’s Fashion and at the moment you can find some great offers on coats and knitwear. And gals, if you too are filled with dread at the mere mention of bra shopping, then to the Jarrolds Lingerie department you must go. The staff who work here are incredible, and are helpful, efficient, and always on hand to give you straightforward - and honest - advice. There’s plenty of choice too if you’re looking for something really specific (hello backless strapless armless dress).
It literally is like walking into your best house. As you come up on the escalator, look behind you and you’ll see all sorts of planters, greenery and flowers which – at the moment – are styled like a Christmas wonderland. Beyond that and across the entire floor, there is all sorts of furniture, to suit any taste and style. Sometimes as a special treat I like to sit on a sofa and pretend that I live there. As well as sofas you’ll find bedsteads, mattresses, chests of drawers, clocks and more – all exceptionally high quality and well designed. The bedspreads are covetable too – at the moment they’ve got some really beautiful William Morris sheets – along with throws and cushions that look perfect for book-reading and accidental napping.
So finally, and neatly, this brings us back to Home Alone 2. Remember Duncan’s Toy Shop? Well this is that. The top floor of Jarrolds is completely magic, full of all sorts of toys, games, puzzles, cuddly animals, not-cuddly animals, lego, not-lego and all sorts of wonderful fun things that you didn’t even know existed. It’s such a treat for children (a particular favourite is life sized lego man, if you can find him…). The children’s department also shares a floor with a wide range of craft products, and currently, a wide array of Christmas decorations. What’s especially good about the latter is that they’re all arranged by colour/genre of tree, so no matter whether your spruce is suave, sparse, or looks like someone took it to a rave, you’ll find the kind of decorations you need.
If you are the kind of person for whom Christmas shopping is a bit of an ordeal, then before you even begin, I suggest that you book yourself an appointment at Jarrold’s excellent Retreat Day Spa for a post-shop treatment. Choose from a variety of facials or aromatherapy massages to soothe you, or if you need to get your act together for that thing you forgot you were going to, then book yourself in for a manicure, pedicure or spray tan. You can book all manner of packages that will get you feeling refreshed, and are guaranteed to take your mind off how on earth you’re going to walk in those shoes you just bought.
For more information, visit the Jarrolds website!
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