Now who goes to a city like London and doesn’t shop at least a little bit? OK, perhaps C would, but not I, RMT’ers! While London is chock full of shops, stores, and stalls to get your shop on, I’m going to highlight two of the top draws for most who live in and visit this wonderful shopping city: Hamleys and Harrods.
Our London Holiday, March 31-through-April 9, 2013:
1. British Airways LAX-LHR
2. The Waldorf Hilton, London
3. Covent Garden Neighborhood, London
4. London Transport Museum
5. Day Out in London: Traditional Landmarks
6. Diana, Princess of Wales’ Memorial Playground, Kensington Gardens, and Green Park/Buckingham Palace
7. Muggles and Magicians: The Harry Potter Experience
8. Family Remembrance and Celebration: Brookwood Cemetery and The Lion King at The Lyceum Theatre
9. Day-Trip Out of London: Isle of Wight and Portsmouth, UK
10. Where Time Began: Greenwich, UK
11. All Along the Watchtower: The Tower of London
12. London’s Shopping Shrines: Hamleys Toys and Harrods TODAY’S POST
Hamleys is London’s premiere toy store. Established in London in 1760 (that’s not a typo!) on Regent Street in the West End, Hamleys is very much like the old-time toy stores where workers demonstrated and displayed various toys to customers as part of the overall shopping experience (and as part of their marketing and advertising plan, of course!). If you’ve seen the movie Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, it’s very much like that toy store, magic included.
I have a funny story about our time at Hamleys… well, about our first time that T and I tried going to Hamleys anyway. I mentioned before that T had been obsessed with going into a couple of the chain toy stores close to our hotel in Covent Garden. Well, one Sunday morning, I gave in and allowed him a small purchase at the Build-a-Bear around the corner from our hotel.
While C was out running a few loads of laundry, T and I went on a date to Build-a-Bear to get T Jr. (his bear) implanted with Sound #12: Star Wars Theme. I was under the impression that this would be a quick trip since we’d visited “the sound” a few times before committing to the surgery. However, on the morning of the scheduled surgery, Sound #12 was out of stock. But guess who had it? Yes, Hamleys! The clerk called there to ask, and she told us that Hamleys has all of the sounds because they can “record any sound there.” Like I said, Hamleys is a magical place.
I then asked T if he wanted to go on an adventure with me to seek out this sound; he quickly agreed and off we went! We hopped on the Underground at Covent Garden and got off for Hamleys at Piccadilly Circus (just one stop up the Piccadilly Line) and finished the journey on foot up Regent Street to Hamleys! But, um, guess what? It was Sunday morning, which meant that the store was not open until Noon at the earliest. It was 11:15 a.m., and we were not able to wait it out that long at that time of day on that particular day (it was that afternoon we were to meet C back at the hotel and then trek down to the Tower of London after our “sound trip” and C’s laundry chores). To say T was bummed about missing out on Hamleys would be a serious understatement. I must say I was pretty bummed myself!
But that didn’t end our Hamleys experience, RMT’ers! C, T, and I returned to Hamleys later in the day via Bus 15, which just happens to run directly from the Tower of London stop up and around to Regent Street (the stop for Hamleys). What luck… or maybe it was that ol’ Hamleys magic! So in the end, T Jr. got his surgery, T got his sound, and the three of us got to browse one of London’s most infamous shopping destinations. We even picked up additional toys along the way, too (of course).
Oh, and I have to give a special shout-out to the LEGO displays and offerings at Hamleys. It was seriously unreal. Not only were several LEGO kits on sale here that we’ve only seen in catalogs and online, but LEGO also has some remarkable, life-size brick builds on display here that capture some of London’s local flavour. Yes, I meant to spell flavor that way, RMT’ers. Oh, and the Queen says hello, too. I still can’t believe T got to meet her and at Hamleys of all places!
Speaking of remarkable merchandising displays and renowned shopping destinations, what’s a visit to London without seeing the foods, flowers, and fashions of Harrods?! Much like my retail cathedral here in Southern California, Harrods is a shopping shrine for anyone who considers themselves a seasoned shopper (which I do and am, TYVM). So, please, let’s take a moment and give thanks for all things Harrods.
At Harrods, it’s not about what one buys but what one sees, and you really do need to see Harrods to believe it. Where else can one grab a fancy snack, duck around the corner for a fine piece of jewelry, and then head upstairs for gifts and trinkets for loved ones back home? Harrods really is in a class of shopping by itself; to simply refer to it as a department store does it a great disservice.
Sadly, we didn’t get to partake in lunch at Harrods (a wee bit pricey and not exactly kid-friendly), and getting take-away from the food halls and going for a picnic in the park wasn’t a good option that day (weather!). But our Harrods food loss meant a great pub win at the nearby Tea Clipper Knightsbridge. Here we found a tasty, simple, and affordable family-friendly lunch of meat pies and fish sandwiches. I may love to shop, but I love a good find even more.
RMT’ers, do you love to shop? Love a bargain even more? If yes and yes, then just a more local reminder for you that the Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale for Women and Kids started this week! You can go here for the sales online and here to find a store in your area. Have fun, and go get those deals!