When myself and my family travelled down to London during half term, we had a number of places we wanted to visit. As well as all the normal number of attractions having three young children, Hamleys, one of the largest toy shops in Britain was also on our list.
It wasn't all what I expected. I'd bought items online from them before but never been to the store.
First mistake I made was programming the SAT SAV. I forgot that London had the congestion zone and as my Sat Nav was programmed to not go on Toll Roads, I found myself travelling around in circles - that was until I realised I was getting no where fast.
On arrival I paid the congestion charge. This cost me £8. I then travelled towards Hamleys at crawling pace. Finally arriving after travelling through the capital for an hour. By this time the kids and wife were absolutely fed up so I dropped them off outside hamleys. In the meantime I went to find a parking space. The nearest place I could find was Soho. This was just around the corner and cost £24 for 4 hours. Be extremely careful. I recommend getting the tube.
I then made my way back to Hamleys. I had to walk through Soho and all the red light shops, before getting lost in the crowds. Finally I arrived at Hamleys and tried to find my wife and kids. The building was so big that my mobile wouldn't work. If I remember correctly there were 5 floors. All very large and eventually I found them. The best thing about Hamleys is not only the choice but also the hands on approach and demonstration of the toys. The children liked the sweet area. Particularly the pic n mix. They loved trying all the different flavour jelly babies.
The building itself does not appear to be modern but it does have a vast choice of toys, lego, dolls etc It is a fantastic shop.
One thing to bear in mind is that some of the toys are far more expensive than other shops and online. I was looking for a Bop It Extreme II. In Tescos it is £16 odd. Argos about £22 and Hamleys a whopping £30. If I was visiting again I would try the toys etc and buy online. I also wouldn't go there in my car.
Hamley's has 4 or 5 floors full of games toys and so much else for children of all ages. It is located in London's Regent Street,on the right hand side as you go towards Oxford Circus. I believe it is open 9 to 5.30 Monday to Saturday. Whenever I visit London I always go in to Hamley's, even if I don't want anything.
Everything is on display so you can look at it properly and there are usually assistant's around the store who are demonstrating various toys. It is usually quite crowded especially around Christmas time, but if you are prepared to make your way through the throng it is definitely worth a visit. The range of goods instore include stuffed animals, jigsaws, board and card games, magic tricks, Barbie and other similar girls toys, Action Man and other similar boys toys, remote control cars, dolls prams. You name it and they probably have it. There is something for every age range. Before now I have found board games in there that I couldn't find locally.
I have never found the prices to be excessive. Yes, you probably could find them cheaper in Asda or somewhere, but overall the prices are not a great deal higher than your high street store, and there is definitely a larger selection.
If you are going without the children you could easily spend a couple of hours just looking. If you take the children you will probably spend a lot longer in the store and the children will be occupied the whole time as there is so much for them to look at and try.
At the end of it your only problem might be that the children have made a very long list of all the things they would like.