Stealing the crown from Regent Street, Covent Garden now hosts the biggest Apple store in the world. Taking cues from the recently opened Opéra store in Paris, the new Covent Garden store successfully fuses classic architecture with modern design. Apple has been eyeing up a new location for their flagship store in London after the success and subsequent overcrowding of Regent Street. Interestingly, development for the store began 7 years ago, before the Regent Street store even opened. Just like 5th Avenue NY, this iconic store is likely to be popular with tourists and fits perfectly into the Covent Garden culture.
The store opened last Saturday (August 7 2010) at 10AM to thousands of customers queuing up outside for hours (including me - more on that later) to have a look around, or to buy an iPhone 4. I got there at 6AM – there were probably around 150 people in the queue at that point. The other queue, for iPhone 4 purchases, was much longer however.
At around 9:50AM the hype began with relentless applause and shouting drowning out the rest of Covent Garden. At this point, a bystander asked me what this was all about. I told him it was for the new Apple Store, at which point he rolled his eyes and walked away.
I got into the store at around 10:10AM, ushered in through the applause tunnel high-fiving all the employees.
Pictures don’t do this place justice. It’s huge. When they said they could fit the 5th Avenue cube into the courtyard, they weren’t kidding. The store comprises four floors: basement for toilets, ground floor for Macs, mezzanine for iPhone/iPod/Genius Bar, first floor for accessories/business. Linking these floors together are two stunning glass staircases, and the coolest lift you’ll ever experience.
The store takes existing architectural features such as exposed brickwork and a stunning glass roof and puts them alongside more modern features such as the iconic glass staircases.
The store has arguably the best location in Covent Garden, just down the road from the nearby Tube station, right next to the market – i.e. you can’t miss it. The store is set back into the building behind stone archways and is identified with some slick minimalistic Apple signage outside.
Check out the media below to see more of the store.