Unbelievably, this High Victorian Gothic masterpiece (1898) was repeatedly slated for demolition before it was restored in the mid-1980s. Occupying an entire city block on the site of the city’s first markets, the QVB is a Venetian Romanesque-inspired temple to the gods of retail.
Sure, the 200 speciality shops are great, but check out the wrought-iron balconies, the Byzantine copper domes, the stained-glass shopfronts, the mosaic floors, the replica crown jewels, the ballroom, the tinkling baby grand and the hyperkitsch animated Royal Clock (featuring the Battle of Hastings and an hourly beheading of Charles I). Informative 45-minute tours (11.30am Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mid-January to early November) depart from the concierge desk on the ground floor. Other available tours visit chocolate-makers or include a high tea.
Outside there’s an imposing statue of Queen Vic herself. Nearby is a wishing well featuring a bronze replica of her beloved pooch, Islay, which disconcertingly speaks in the baritone voice of radio rabble-rouser John Laws.