Turn shopping into a magical family day to remember at Hamleys, the largest and oldest toy store in the world. With seven colourful floors packed with games, animals, dolls and aliens, you’ll find this children’s paradise right in the middle of Regent Street. But there’s more to do here than just shop. A team of dedicated, theatrical staff offer interactive demonstrations, favourite characters are brought to life in costume, plus there are loads of things to play with - in fact, you could stay all day. A focal point for anyone with little ones visiting London, Hamleys is like a compact Disneyland in the heart of Regent Street. And don’t worry if any of the family get overtired with all the excitement. Our Premier Inn near Hamleys is just the other end of Regent Street so it’s handy for post-shopping power nap.
First set up in Holborn by William Hamley as ‘Noah’s Ark’ in 1760, Hamleys moved to Regent Street in 1881 and became the sprawling superstore it is today. The fame of the shop grew and grew and it was even visited by the Royal Family to fill their vaulted playrooms and horse-drawn perambulators. Hamleys even kept trading throughout World War II, with shop assistants running out to serve children at the doo. After struggling with the rest of Britain in the hard times of the 1920s, they reopened thanks to the hard work of Walter Lines and his brothers, who took the helm in 1931.
Go early. As one of London’s top attractions the crowds can build up the closer it gets to lunchtime, so be prepared for potential queues and a very bustling atmosphere.The staff will keep the magic going though, no matter how busy it gets.
From the moment those famous doors open, the Hamleys Experience truly begins. Here’s all the information you need.
You’ll find Hamleys at 188-196 Regent Street, London W1B 5BT. It’s open from 10am to 9pm Monday to Friday, Saturdays from 9:30am to 9pm and on Sunday from 12pm to 6pm. There are two cafes on site, and baby changing areas in the loos, which are on the fifth floor. Customer services is on the lower ground floor.
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.
Besides all the cool toys to play with, Hamleys has loads of ways to encourage shoppers to stay all day. Here’s just a glimpse at what could be going on when you visit.
Hamleys run an entertaining Official Tour of the shop every day, covering it’s full history right up to the toys it sells now. You also get a slice of cake and a party bag into the bargain. They regularly hold competitions, with prizes like West End theatre tickets and glitzy hotel rooms. Keep your eyes on their Facebook page to find out the next one. In December Hamleys really comes into its own, with a Christmas Toy Parade, jaw-dropping window displays and, of course, the chance to meet Father Christmas!
Where better than a toy shop for a birthday party? Go 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 pizazz. 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. For special offers the birthday boy or girl have been known to get a free birthday present from Hamleys, worth up to £75.
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 without leaving the store, head to Tzing on the 5th floor, a good place to have a coffee and cake in the middle of a heavy shopping day. There’s also the ever popular Shaketastic, where anything and everything can become a milkshake! Mother Mash is tucked away behind the store (on Ganton Street), and offers an ever-pleasing and scrumptious variety of the British classic - bangers and mash. A fab choice for vegetarians, Tibits is a three minute walk from the store to Heddon Street.
A stroll down to Piccadilly 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. Or 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.
Getting to Hamleys is a breeze thanks to its central location. Driving is an option, but jumping on the Tube or bus is far less stressful.
Driving to Hamleys? 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 though as you’ll be driving through central London. You can do it online or on your phone.
By bus and tube
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 nearby. In terms of buses, there are loads to choose from The 6, 12, 13, 23, 88, 94, 139, 159 and 453 services all drop you off right by those famous doors.