With some of the most sophisticated shopping opportunities in Europe, the quality of both the purchases and the experiences in England, centered in London, are sure to satisfy the most refined tastes. Gifts may be found to suit a variety of different types of people, from adults to children, athletes to fashionistas.
Gifts for Tots
Children will be delighted with a gift from Hamley’s, of London. Founded in 1760, Hamley’s is both a long-standing tradition and a trendsetter in the toy industry. They only hire the experts as well, with a panel of consultants between the ages of five and eleven that assure the 40,000 varieties of toys offered at the store address all the needs and desires a child could have.
Gifts for the Athlete
Representing over 45 different sports, Lillywhites provides Piccadilly Circus’s most complete stock of athletic equipment. Additionally, Lillywhites boasts a Royal Warrant, deeming them the official supplier of sporting goods to the royal family. Niketown, by contrast, provides a flashier version of the athletic industry, adding paraphernalia and multi-media images to its vast collection of equipment. Whatever the style of the athlete, a suitable gift can surely be found in London.
For the music enthusiast there is no way to beat the oldest music store in the world, HMV. With a wide array of posters, t-shirts, DVDs, video games, electronics and more in addition to over 200,000 albums, there is something for every kind of musical taste. Headphone terminals allow customers to listen to any CD in the store before buying, to assure that it is the right gift. DVDs may be previewed as well. While not the oldest, Virgin Megastore is the largest music store in London, with an equally varied selection.
With no shortage of bookstores, London is a great place to find a gift for avid readers as well. Charing Cross Road offers several shops, some even dedicated to specific genres. For a wider variety Foyles is more desirable, as one of the biggest bookstores in London. Waterstone’s is also a good choice, as the largest bookstore in Europe with over a million titles.
Fashion Fit For a Queen
Home to the likes of Stella McCartney and Thomas Burberry, London is at the forefront of fashion. Regent Street is particularly known for its designer boutiques. Aquascutum has been selling clothes made famous by movie stars since 1851, and Austin Reed offers made-to-measure service for men’s suits. Several high-end retailers can also be found on Bond Street, such as Gieves & Hawkes and Rigby & Peller, whose customers include Queen Elizabeth and international royalty, stage and movie stars, and media and fashion personalities. Though catering to discriminating tastes, you need not be a celebrity to shop there. Oxford Street offers Benetton and Topshop and Topman, selling hip but affordable fashion for young people. Shellys is the place to go for a wide variety of shoes, including those at the leading edge of fashion.
When to Shop
Outside of London, England also provides a variety of gifts such as china, porcelain, luxury food and chocolates, and antiques. Many places offer a tax-free shopping system for overseas shoppers, by which taxes are repaid through vouchers presented to Customs. In major cities throughout the country shops are open generally on Monday through Saturday between 9:00/9:30am and 5:30pm. Many London and local stores stay open until 7:00pm or 8:00pm, and most other cities have a late night once a week, usually Thursday. Many local or larger shops hold Sunday hours as well.