188 - 196 Regent St
London W1B 5BT, England
Doll & Toy Store
Souvenir & Gift Store
You know you're getting close when you see smiling kids with their parents carrying white Hamleys bags with red and black toy soldiers. Your preschooler will be so excited walking into this store, which has more than 40,000 (yes, you read that right) toys in it, that he'll do a jig of joy. In addition to floo- to-ceiling toys of all kinds — from old-fashioned rollerskates to rainbow paintbrushes and personalized alarm clock wake-up music — there are magic demonstrations, painting demonstrations, and even manicures. With seven stories, Narnia-decorated staircases, and toys to play with, Hamleys is not so much a store as an experience.
Babies: The back half of the ground floor is dedicated to babies. Even when the store's crowded, it's easy to get to (and get out when you're done) even if pregnant or with a baby.
Toddlers & Pre-K: A whole floor is dedicated to toddlers, who will do better if they visit just this floor, and aren't overwhelmed by the rest of the stimulation.
School-Age Kids: This is paradise for school-age kids, with several floors of offerings, and they will spend all day there if you let them. Schedule a firm end-time or fun activity for after, or arrive an hour or two before closing time.
Pre-Teens & Teens: Older kids will mainly be interested in the video-games, the sporting equipment, and the boutique of pricey and intriguing paraphernalia from Harry Potter, The Golden Compass and other movies. Nimbus 2000, anyone?
- Try the Royal Tea Cafe. There's a small food court/cafe on the top floor so when you need a break from all the toy oogling, you can stop here for a surprisingly good cup of coffee.
- Take the stairs. The stairs are incredible, painted from floor to ceiling with scenes from the Narnia books, and they aren't as crowded as the elevators. Don't be surprised if your kids want to linger.
Just the Facts
Hours: Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, noon-6 p.m.
Recommended Time: 2 - 4 hours