From spas, gyms, and meditation areas to renowned restaurants, the airport experience has taken on a whole new meaning in recent years, as travel hubs around the world have stepped up their game. Naturally, this includes shopping. Going way beyond the traditional offerings of books, magazines, and a pack of gum – and helping your delayed flight or layover mood in the process – some airports now pretty much double as luxury shopping malls.
Here are 7 of the world’s best airports for shopping.
When everything in Dubai is over the top, it’s only natural that its airport has some of the best shopping in the world. Here, you’ll find everything from gold bars (it’s the City of Gold, after all), to designer outfits, pens, watches, perfumes, and jewellery. The airport is home to brands like Bvlgari, Swarovski, Montblanc, Dior, Chanel, Jean Paul Gualtier, and Versace. Not surprisingly, the electronic game here is huge; you’ll find cameras, laptops, and smartphones of all varieties, including those housed in two Apple stores.
If the stimulation of the bustling city wasn’t enough, you can also shop your heart out pre-flight any time of the day at Hong Kong International Airport’s 24-hour shops. The airport is home to two shopping malls(!) and hundreds of retail outlets.In particular, Terminal 1 houses almost 50 shops that feature everything from electronics to watches. Here, you’ll find everything from Bose, to Cartier, Omega, Calvin Klein, Kate Spade, and Zara. Terminal 1 is also home to designer labels like Versace, Armani, and Chanel.
London’s busiest airport, Heathrow, is well known for its quality retail therapy. This includes a large and diverse duty-free area that houses some of the world’s biggest designer brands, offering up all the best in clothing, accessories, beauty products, watches, and jewellery. Beloved brands found here include Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Hermes, Rolex, Swarovski, and British icon Harrods. The Harry Potter fans will appreciate a gift shop dedicated entirely to the famed brand. A personal shopping service – which can be booked in advanced – is available (somewhat surprisingly) free of charge.
The shiny new Istanbul Airport – which opened its doors April 2019 – puts the retail experience front and centre in the massive space. Perhaps the biggest talking point of the airport’s retail experience is the new futuristic duty free area, which houses over 1000 domestic and luxury brands and is now the largest in the world. While you’ll find the usual airport suspects, the space also houses famous designer brands, like Emporio Armani, Ferragamo, Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Celine. Additionally, you can also find beloved Turkish brands, like Kemal Tanca, Brandy’s, and Vakko
With over 350 shops, there are worse places for the seasoned shopper to be stuck on a layover than Changi Airport. In addition to a waterfall and ample greenery, this impressive airport houses an Apple store and high-end retailers like Burberry, Chloe, Coach, Fendi, Furla, Gucci, Hugo Boss, and Louis Vuitton (just to name a few), in addition to more mainstream brands. As an added bonus for your pre-flight retail therapy session, for every $S10 you spend, you earn a free ride on the world’s tallest airport slide.
One of the world’s best airports for shopping is in our home and native land. The Vancouver airport is as known for its shopping at the city is its mountains, with an assortment of retailers within its walls and a massive outlet mall a credit card’s throw away. At McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver Airport, savvy shoppers can browse significantly reduced finds from brands like Armani, Jimmy Choo, Boss by Hugo Boss, Ted Baker, Rudsak, and Polo Ralph Lauren, to name a few.
In 2018, Milan’s Malpensa Airport stepped up its shopping game with a new 13,000-square-metre shopping gallery in the departure area of Terminal 1. In addition to hundreds of restaurants, bars, and shops (including 46 new stores after the renovation), is a 2,000-square-metre duty-free area – one of the largest in Europe. The airport is home to brands like Gucci, Hermès, Montblanc, Tod’s, Hugo Boss, Ferragamo, and many more.
Word of advice: make sure you’re aware of the restrictions when it comes to the numbers of shopping finds you’re allowed to bring into your destination country.
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