I honestly never thought I’d say this, but it turns out spending a morning in a toy shop can actually be a fun event.

If you’re heading to London any time soon, and specifically if you’re looking for a way to kill time indoors for a few hours, Hamley’s Toy Store in Regent Street is amazing. On our way in I told my 4 year old Ameli that I wouldn’t be buying anything and we were just there to look, and amazingly, that was fine! She didn’t ask for anything all day, and was more than happy with the ‘free’ things she walked away with. (More on those in a bit.) I was quite surprised. I had expected a bit more fight! (In truth I think she was so overwhelmed she wouldn’t have known what to ask for anyway!)

I am in love with these Magic Markers. Ameli was thrilled to take the picture home!

Hamley’s Toy Store isn’t a shop. It’s an experience. Seriously. When they open the doors at 11am (on a Sunday) there’s a whole countdown, and eager browsers and shoppers alike are dragged into the spirit of the thing by ‘hosts’ counting down to the opening of the shop, by princesses and the Hamley’s bear waving at them and welcoming them. I’ve never really experienced anything quite like it!

Hamley’s consists  of five floors of kiddie-heaven.  If there’s a toy, or a style of toy or interest or hobby that exists in this world, it’s there. From the Hamley’s Underground (a tube train where you can pose with iconic images of London on the screen behind you) on the lowest floor to the sweet shop on the upper floor, and every level in between, there’s something for everyone.

The LEGO section has display models, and the royal family waving down at shoppers, the Harry Potter section is a glass display of magical trinkets, and the planets and other educational toys are enough to make me beg to buy a few bits and pieces, never mind the kids.

The electronic toys range from electronic Hexbug spiders to LED water speakers and one of the most highly favoured toys on the day was a blow up flying saucer!

Honestly, something for everyone.

As you go around the floors there are ‘hosts’ – shop assistants, really – that give free paint on tattoos, demonstrations of crafty toys (I’m in love with the magic pens and how they’ve changed over the years!) and just so much more. I think if you are not in a hurry you could quite easily spend an entire day in Hamley’s Toy Shop and come out feeling like you’ve been to Disney World!

On site demonstrations leave the children feeling like they've been to workshops - engaged and happy

If you’re disciplined and can say no to your kids, it doesn’t even have to cost you a fortune either, though lets face it, you may be tempted anyway, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

I may not have known before our morning in Hamleys what Ameli really would like for Christmas, but there’s one way to really get to know what grips your child’s imagination, and that’s by letting them loose in a toy shop. I was quite surprised by some of the things that Ameli went crazy for – a stuffed toy pullalong/ride on, the spider, and most of the LEGO section. I was expecting a bit more battle of wills around the Frozen merchandise, but it seems when surrounded by an ocean of choice, kids seem a little clearer on what they really love!

Once again, Hamleys Toy Shop is highly recommended on the wet and cold days in London.

(I’m just sorry I ran out of battery, and couldn’t take any more pictures!)

Categories: London UK