The largest and oldest toy store in the world, with a cohort of dedicated, theatrical staff, every visit is sure to be more than just a shopping trip. On seven glorious floors of games, animals, dolls and aliens, Hamleys is the focal point for anyone with a family visiting London. Offering interactive demonstrations, birthday parties, favourite characters come to life in costume and what feels like every toy that there is in the world, Hamleys is like a compact Disneyland in the heart of Regent Street.
Hamleys secured it’s place in the hearts and minds of the nation's children, from the 18th through to the 21st Century. First established in Holborn by William Hamley as ‘Noah’s Ark’ in 1760, Hamleys moved to Regent Street in 1881 to become the sprawling superstore that it is today. The fame of the shop grew and grew, even visited by the Royal Family to fill their vaulted playrooms and horse-drawn perambulators. In 1938 Queen Mary gave Hamleys the Royal Warrant, and so did Queen Elizabeth II in 1955! The Royal Warrant is a seal of approval that marks you as a supplier to royalty, and Hamleys had certainly earned the title.
Hamleys even kept trading in World War II, with shop assistants running out to serve children at the door! After struggling with the rest of Britain in the hard times of the 1920’s, they reopened thanks to the hard work of Walter Lines and his brothers, who took the helm in 1931.
With its Knightsbridge location, getting to Harrods and beating the crowds doesn’t have to be difficult. Bus options are a plenty and the underground is super convenient. Need a place to rest aching feet after your shopping spree?
Being right in the heart of London’s busiest area, driving to Hamleys is not for the faint hearted. Car parks can be found on Brewer Street (W1F 0LA), Grosvenor Hill (W1K 3QQ), and at Sanderson House (W1T 3NG). Don’t forget to pay the congestion charge, either online or on your phone!
The 6, 12, 13, 23, 88, 94, 139, 159 and 453 buses all drop you off right by those big double doors!
The closest tube station is Oxford Circus, or there’s Piccadilly Circus station at the other end of Regent Street. Tottenham Court Road is also very nearby, and the walk from each tube station should ensure you get to sample just enough of what this mammoth shopping district has to offer.
As one of London’s main attractions the crowds can be pretty intense - so be prepared for potential queues and a very bustling atmosphere! The staff are well used to how busy it gets in there and will keep the magic going- whatever the weather. The best times to visit are as early in the morning as possible, in the weekdays - after about 1 o’clock the queues start to pick up a little.
Hamleys run an Official Tour of the shop everyday, covering it’s full history up to the toys it sells now! You also get a slice of cake and a party bag into the bargain.
Every now and again, Hamleys offers up competitions, with prizes like West End theatre tickets and glitzy hotel rooms! Keep your eyes on their facebook page for the next one.
In December Hamleys really comes into its own, with a Christmas Toy Parade of all your favourite characters, and of course the chance to meet Father Christmas!
Where better than a toy shop for a birthday party? Go for a classic with The Hamleys Tea Party, with party games and birthday cake, or choose a theme from Superhero, Safari, Pirates and Princesses or ‘Luvly’ for a party with a bit more pizzaz!
And, if you’re really in the mood to push the boat out, Hamleys also do a Dream Sleepover party with a movie-night, a Hamleys breakfast and exclusive run of the store!
Monday - Friday 10:00 - 21:00
Saturday 09:30 -21:00
Sunday 12:00 - 18:00
Hamleys has two cafes on site, and baby changing areas in the loos.
Every floor is accessible either by lift or by escalator and there is a wheelchair-accessible toilet on the fifth floor.
Green Park is the closest accessible tube station, and the number 10 bus (which you can catch from Green Park Station stop J) drops you off on Conduit Street (stop M) right outside Hamleys’ doors!
There’s plenty nearby if you need to grab a bite to eat, from light lunches and snacks to hearty suppers. Here’s a look at what’s good, family-friendly and right next door...
If you fancy something sweet there’s Tzing on the 5th floor, a good place to have a sit down and perhaps a slice of cake. There’s also the ever popular Shaketastic, where anything and everything can become a milkshake! They also do juices for a bit of extra pep in your step.
Mother Mash is tucked away behind the store (on Ganton Street), and offers an ever-pleasing and scrumptious variety of a British classic - bangers and mash.
A fab choice for vegetarians, Tibits is a three minute walk from the store to Heddon Street. With a downstairs area specifically for kids, fresh and reasonably priced delicious food.
A stroll down to Picadilly Circus will lead you to The Rainforest Cafe. Wait for your food by a waterfall, listening to the sounds of the jungle, and even pick up an activity pack with your food for a small extra charge.
Get stuck into some burgers and ribs at Bodean’s BBQ in Soho, with that smiley American vibe that keeps spirits high and boredom far from the dinner table.
For a chain option that works every time, try the Dean Street Pizza Express, serving pizza, pasta and doughballs just a nine minute walk away.