Bond street secrets – missing price tags, how to get free booze and where the Queen shops

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Bond Street is the most expensive retail street in Europe and boasts more luxury brands than anywhere in the world.

The glamorous half mile between Oxford Street and Piccadilly has been London's most exclusive shopping street for 300 years and is full of dazzling diamonds, fabulous fashion and millionaire motors.

It has more royal warrants than any other in Britain – with The Queen getting her own personal chocolates from one of the stores.

Bond Street caters for every taste and is the place to go if you want a £20,000 handbag, a £250,000 watch or a multi-million-pound diamond.

As the area fights for it's future amid the coronavirus pandemic, cameras have been allowed in for the first time for tonight's ITV documentary Billion Pound Bond Street.

Giving a unique glimpse into what the super-rich have been spending their money on and what goes on behind-the-scenes, here is a look at Bond Street's secrets.

The Queen's shopping habits

Adam Lee, Chief Chocolatier at Charbonnel and Walker, holds a box of fine English Rose and Violet Creams
(Image: ITV)

Bond Street is the place for the rich and famous to go shopping – and that includes The Queen.

Royal chocolate-maker Charbonnel et Walker has connections to the family going back to Her Majesty's great-grandfather.

Edward VII asked his favourite chocolate maker Madame Charbonnel to move from Paris to London, so the company owes it's existence to the royal sweet tooth.

They have a royal warrant and The Queen has a list of her favourite chocolates – with a box in the store costing up to £280.

Chief chocolatier Adam Lee won't reveal which chocs are Her Majesty's favourites, but he does give a very strong hint.

Adam won't reveal which chocs are Her Majesty's favourites but he does give a very strong hint

"We have lots of pictures of The Queen and the Royal Family around the shop, given to us by The Palace.," he explains.

"The Queen does have a list of favourite chocolates with us. But I'm not allowed to divulge that directly to you.

"However, I can just say that she has very floral tastes, which may become evident if we look at the chocolates a little bit later."

Giving it away, Adam then immediately starts with the two most popular chocolates, which are rose and violet creams.

"I never said a word, never said a word," he protests.

The factory where they make the chocolates is also in Poundbury, the model town designed by Prince Charles.

Where to get free booze

Bond Street has been London’s most exclusive shopping street for 300 years

The rents and rates on Bond Street are huge because the luxury designer brands all want to be there.

As one shopper explains: "You don’t go to Dior just for a bag, because you can buy it online. You go for an experience. It’s the whole shebang."

Inside the flagship Christian Dior store, where dresses are considered 'art pieces' and can cost as much as a car, the prices are concealed inside garments.

Customers need to have a shop assistant who knows where to find the price tags accompany them around the store.

The champagne cork is popped from 11am onwards and drinks are offered to all clients, whether they are coming in to purchase or just wanting to have a look around.

Store manager Christopher Watney reveals: "We offer drinks to all of our clients. Any client that comes into the House of Dior."

In lockdown the flagship store has been shut, so Dior has been reaching out online by having influencers filming inside.

Security and rent

The rents in Bond Street are in the millions per year

Bond Street is one of the world's three biggest thoroughfares, coming only behind Causeway Bay in Hong Kong and Upper 5th Avenue in New York.

So it's no wonder that the biggest and most luxurious companies in the world all want a slice.

The rent is described as being "dauntingly high" and it's tough for British-based family businesses to afford a space anymore.

They still have to send rent collectors in who know where all the skeletons in closets are.

The pair featured in the show reveal that Chanel rebuilt their building for £40-50million as tenants before they even owned it.

Ralph Lauren pays a staggering rent of £11million a year and single units are currently going for a whopping £70million.

Billions are spent every year so security is one of the biggest industries in Bond Street, although there wasn't enough to stop a recent £40million diamond heist.

Gary Martin and Brett Matthews, from Temis Luxury security services, joke they won't get a discount but have tried.

They explain the rich want to come down and show off their flash cars, but they are not discrete so security needs to be extra high.

£3.2million diamond gamble

Michael Wainwright of British Jewellers Boodles examines a pink diamond valued at 3.2 million pounds

A pair of brothers have taken an extraordinary gamble by investing in one of the most valuable diamonds they have ever bought.

Nicholas and Michael Wainwright, who run British jewellers Boodles, are trying to sell a stunning pink diamond weighing over 10 carats with a value of £3.2million.

"This is a lot of money for us but we saw it, we loved it and we thought we've got to buy it," says Nicholas.

They can put the diamond into a pendant or a ring and set it in a day if needs be.

Nicholas adds: "“If the Queen wanted it in a pendant she'd get it tomorrow afternoon."

The £3.2 million diamond is an extraordinary gamble

They are hoping to find a buyer in their Bond Street store by Christmas, but are hampered by the country going back into lockdown.

Once the store can open up again, they turn the boardroom into an enticing brasserie for a champagne lunch for top clients to view the exclusive gem.

Michael explains that selling the diamond might actually mean he can pay himself his full salary, having decided to take a 50% cut due to the impact of Covid on profits.

At one point he didn't think he'd pay himself anything but is hoping that the sale of the diamond will mean he can release some funds.

Lonely resident

Ollie Claridge is one of the only remaining residents
(Image: ITV)

In previous times, past residents of Bond Street have included Admiral Lord Nelson, while composer Handel and musician Jimi Hendrix lived just round the corner.

But nowadays there are almost no residents left, with the exception of garden designer Ollie Claridge.

Ollie has been a resident for 20 years thanks to a unique rental arrangement on a flat worth more than the Boodles diamond

He has a peculiar old-fashioned 1970s lease, which can no longer be given out, which he took over from his father.

"Guy Burgess the spy lived here, in this flat, until his flight to Russia, I think he had a lot of parties here and entertained a lot of rough sailors," says Ollie.

"Then I think it was a brothel after that. It was quite insalubrious, Bond Street. Sadly, not anymore!"

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Ollie can't even use the door to his flat from Bond Street because it was blocked off by the building's owners eight years ago as the space behind it commands £150k a year in rent.

Revealing his solution, Ollie explains: "So I now use a rather discreet entrance round the back, like a film star, or someone visiting the plastic surgeon again."

Ollie says he can't nip out to get a cup of sugar or pint of milk but jokes he can buy some diamonds.

On whether Bond Street keep its crown as one of the world’s greatest shopping streets, he says: "I think people have not had enough things to spend their money on.

"And now they feel that by doing that and going home with a bag with Cartier on it, suddenly they are alive."

*Billion Pound Bond Street airs tonight on ITV at 9pm

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