Few stores have queues around the block, but when the LEGO Store in Leicester Square opened, barriers were put up to control the flow of shoppers. As you enter, you are greeted by a 6.53m-high Big Ben, which is made from 200,000 LEGO bricks. The model, which took 2,280 hours to complete, features a working clock that is illuminated at night – just like the real thing. As you explore the two floors, the LEGO creations get more and more impressive: from Lester, the shop’s mascot, in a Union Jack waistcoat, to a life-size Tube carriage that you can sit in. There are the latest movie scenes and superheroes, with clear instructions about how to build them. Everything is, indeed, awesome.
As you walk along Regent Street, it’s easy to spot Hamleys – the world’s most famous toy store. Crowds of children—and adults who are definitely young at heart—are often seen outside, being entertained by performers such as Rag Doll and Toy Soldier. Established in 1760, the shop has been in its present location since 1881. One of London’s most iconic shopping venues, its mammoth seven floors are home to a huge range, from classic games, gadgets and soft toys. Look out for demonstrations and interactive elements, from a piano mat you can step on – think Tom Hanks in Big – to miniature helicopters you can fly. You’ll find the most high-tech gadget, plus plenty of classic board games that haven’t changed for decades.
If it’s kids’ clothing you are after, London has plenty to offer. Make like the Duchess of Cambridge and head to Trotters. Located on the King’s Road in fashionable Chelsea, Trotters stocks London-inspired items, from jumpers emblazoned with the Queen’s guards to red bus toys. The shop also has an aquarium and shoe-fitting and hairdressing services, which are offered by staff who are skilled at keeping children calm and happy. If it's good enough for royalty, then it's good enough for us.
Inspired by French style, JoJo Maman Bébé was established more than 20 years ago and sells chic clothes for young ones. The idea was conceived after founder Laura had a near-fatal collision and endured an extended stay in hospital. While she was there, she found that she didn’t particularly like the childrenswear in catalogues, so she designed Breton-influenced clothing herself. Items include brightly coloured raincoats, nautical rompers and animal-inspired knitwear.