Taking the kids shopping can be a challenge but suggest these stores and they’ll be dragging you there!
London’s Top Museum Shops
London has plenty of fantastic museums and many also have an excellent gift shop. Whenever I need to buy a present we head to the Museum of London shop or the Science Museum shop, and we never leave empty-handed.
At the Museum of London shop there is a dedicated children’s section and my daughter usually loves to choose a new book and a pocket-money toy. It’s one of those places where you’ll go to buy a gift and always find something for you too. The Science Museum shop is huge and has plenty of pocket-money toys too but also fantastic science experiment kits and space-themed fun including the Astronaut Ice-Cream Sandwich I seem to buy every time we’re there.
London’s Best Toy Shops
A visit to Hamleys on Regent Street is always fun. There are seven floors of toys and lots of demonstrators. My daughter loves the nail art and colouring pens before dashing to the dolls section to make a wish-list of dolls for Christmas or her next birthday.
The Sylvanian Families shop in north London celebrated its 20th anniversary this year so there’s no sign of these little animal folk going out of fashion.
I’ll admit I was surprised when my seven year old told me she loved visiting Westfield Stratford City but her reasoning was because they have the LEGO shop and Disney Store! The LEGO store has a wall at the back where you can fill a cup with the individual pieces you really want for your next creation. I like to make the set of three LEGO mini figures which you put together yourself and only costs £3.50.
A recent addition to my daughter’s favourite shops is Lush as the bath bombs still amaze her. It’s all natural ingredients and it makes bath time fun, appealing to her love of science experiments and her wish to be all grown up too soon.
If your kids are older take them to Forbidden Planet and release your inner geek. We bought Doctor Who figures and want to go back for moustache cookie cutters or the Darth Vader cake tin.
London Sweet Shops
It’s not just kids who love sweets. Hope and Greenwood has traditional English sweets in jars behind the counter ready to be weighed out. Also in Covent Garden, Cybercandy stocks all the brightly-coloured imported treats expats and visitors might be craving.
M&M World in Leicester Square is four floors of noisy sugar rush. There are fun photo opportunities with the red bus on the ground floor and the recreated Beatles Abbey Road cover on the lower level.
And chocoholics need to go to Choccywoccydoodah for the kitsch madness. We went to the cafe with friends and it’s a chocolate heaven.
Laura Porter writes the About.com London Travel site and is also a VisitBritain Super Blogger. She’s @AboutLondon on twitter and fits in further freelance writing while sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival the Queen’s.