Inside Apple's "best ever" store at Covent Garden

The new Apple Store in Covent Garden is the "best ever" according to Apple's senior VP of retail ops, Ron Johnson, who was on hand to give Pocket-lint a sneak peak of the shop ahead of its grand opening at 10am on 7 August.

As well as being the "best" Apple Store, it also has the honour of being Apple's 300th retail centre. Coincidence? We don't think those chaps from Cupertino do coincidences.

So, what makes the Covent Garden store the best?

Well, apart from being huge - three floors with a huge courtyard area - Johnson was keen to point out that much of the building is still made up of the original 1876 brickwork, which had to be carefully restored. A process Johnson described as "expensive" but the Apple boss was keen to stress that the cost was worth it. "We spent the right amount of money, put it that way", he said.

As well as the "original fabric" Johnson was also keen to boast of the English oak used in the tables and parts of the floor, and was also awfully proud that it was the first Apple Store in the world to offer two glass staircases.

Talking of world firsts, the store also boasts Apple's newest addition to its retail operations - the Start Up room, where the Apple bods will help people set up their purchases before they even leave the shop.

There is also a new community room, and a business briefing centre where schools and, er, businesses can go and get hands on with the Apple gadgets.

As you'd expect there are also the usual Apple Store offerings such as Genius Bars, personal training rooms, kid's tables and there is also the largest selection of third party software and accessories to be found anywhere in the world.

300 employees have been summoned to work at the new store and they will all be able to take payments for items from anywhere on the premises using their iPod touches and the new Easy Pay Touch system. Paper receipts are long dead, you'll receive your purchase details via email before you even leave the shop.

So, what do we think? Worth all the fuss?

Definitely. There was talk as to whether the shop would be London's flagship store ahead of the Regent Street one - the world's most successful Apple Store.

But we don't think the London flagship was even a consideration for Apple. It's clear that Apple Store at 1 Piazza, Covent Garden, is the world's flagship Apple Store.

The store opens on Saturday 7 August at 10.30am - be one of the first 4000 inside and nab yourself a free t-shirt. And don't worry about stock levels - Johnson said there are more iPhone 4s and iPads at the new store than anywhere else in the world.