I'm certainly not a person who goes shopping everyday or even every week for that matter; but when I do shop, I usually enjoy it. I don't shop online because I like to see things in person and touch the things I do buy. So I was sad to have missed the opportunity to shop at Austins Department Store located on The Diamond within the old City Walls. Austin's is easily identified for its unique, verdigris turret. Not only did I find the store's architecture beautiful, but it's history is quite interesting too as it's 'Ireland's 1st Department Store,' and also the 'World's Oldest "Independent" Department Store.' Austin's website states that "At over 180 years of age, Austin's is 5 years older than Jenners of Edinburgh, 15 years older than Harrods of London and 25 years older than Macy's of New York." Impressive indeed!
Austin's Department Store has been a part of Londonderry/Derry since 1830 when Thomas Austin opened a drapery shop on The Diamond. The business expanded over time and now occupies the present five- story, Edwardian-style building. The ground and first floors are devoted to cosmetics and fashion accessories, women's and men's clothing, shoes, etc. The second floor is home to one of the largest Waterford Crystal departments in Northern Ireland, gifts, and homeware.
Like many classic department stores from the twentieth century, Austin's also has a cafe and cafeteria. On the mezzanine level above the ground floor is Austin's new, fully licensed "Café Mezzo," which offers table service seating for 40 with a contemporary menu and is described as "the city's latest café experience" in its own literature.
On the third floor is the 150-seat self-service restaurant named "The Roof Top." It serves breakfasts, elevenses, lunches and afternoon tea and has a childrens' menu available. The food is described as simple but good. You can certainly be comfortable in the sleek booths, and have a great view over The Diamond and beyond. AND, apparently it's a great bargain as well. Reservations can be made online. On the 3rd floor there is also a large office area for clients to hold conferences.
Austin's is open Monday - Saturday: 9:30am - 5:30pm and Sunday 1:00pm - 5:00pm.
Next, have a look at a one of the city's interesting and most meaningful sculptures which is the subject of next tip.
What to buy: If you're interested in Waterford Crystal and will not necessarily be visiting the city of Waterford itself, Austin's Department Store claims to have one of the largest Waterford Crystal departments in Northern Ireland. Crystal is certainly beautiful. But from what I've seen online, my thought is that the women's accessories look very nice, and their bedding linens look quite beautiful too.
Address: 2 - 6 The Diamond, Londonderry/Derry
Directions: Located at The Diamond within the City Walls.
Phone: +44 (0)28 7126 1817
The city houses 2 major shopping centres (Foyleside and Richmond), a number of designer boutiques and a unique craft village.