Air travel comes with a lot of tedious inconveniences: baggage allowances, paranoid security checks, questionable plane food and sitting cramped for hours on end. Happily, the rise of air travel has given us something new and wonderful, too: duty free shopping! The no-man’s-land beyond the security gates is now a bright and gleaming world filled with the brands you love minus the pesky taxes you’d pay on the high street. The bigger the airport, the better the shopping opportunities – so you can spend hours happily maxing out your credit card.
At London’s Heathrow Airport, the two major duty free stores are open from 5am until the last flight, so you can browse and shop to your heart’s content even if you’re catching the reddest of red-eye flights from your London Heathrow Airport hotel. There are duty-free shops in each of Heathrow’s five terminals both before and after the security gates. The airport has two duty-free chains: World Duty Free and World of Whiskies.
World Duty Free sells fragrances, skincare and cosmetics, watches, sunglasses, confectionery and tobacco along with some liquor. Here you can find the upmarket brands that you might not normally buy on the high street at knock-down prices. The cosmetics range spans from brands found in plenty of retail chemists to luxury brands Tom Ford and Burberry. Among the cheapest are OPI nail polishes, cosmetics from L’Oreal and skincare from L’Occitane: a great time to grab a bargain on these excellent products. You might want to invest in a good moisturiser to keep your skin feeling fresh on a long-haul flight. At the high end are perfumes by Tom Ford, Lalique and Versace, with costs rising to almost £600. Whether you really want to spend that much on a fragrance while you’re travelling is up to you.
Here you can also find boxes of delicious chocolates, to be scoffed on the plane or delivered to the friend or relative back home who you forgot to buy a souvenir for. They’ll know you got their gift at duty free – but they won’t care, because no one can be unhappy with a giant box of chocolates in their hands!
For the connoisseurs among us, World of Whiskies sells a huge range of duty-free alcohol, with their malts alone totaling almost 350. Here too, you can find a wide range of prices, from the bottles you might grab at your local liquor store to prestige luxury products that cost as much as a brand-new car – certainly a lot less than a night at the Park Grand London Hounslow. For the penny-pinchers, you can find good wines for as low as £8 here, as well as champagne, spirits, liqueurs, cognac, champagne, and aperitifs such as the trusty British summertime staple Pimms – an excellent last-minute gift idea with a little local tradition behind it.
You can find duty-free shopping at all of Heathrow’s five terminals. At Terminal 1, you’ll find World Duty Free after security; in Terminal 2, World Duty Free after security and in multiple locations in the baggage reclaim hall. In Terminals 3, 4 and 5, you’ll find World Duty Free in the arrivals hall and both World Duty Free and World of Whiskies after security.
If you’re flying into or out of London on a red-eye flight, check yourself into one of the many hotels near London Heathrow for a well-deserved rest before you continue with your journey. After all, it can be tricky to reach the airport between midnight and 7am when the first Underground trains begin running – unless you want to pay top dollar for a taxi. Save yourself the hassle of a peak-hour trip and spend a comfortable night near the airport, knowing that when you wake up you don’t have far to go to reach your plane and shopping heaven.
-world duty free – liquor and tobacco, fragrance, skincare and cosmetics, confectionery, sunglasses and watches.
All terminals. T1 after security, T2 after security & baggage reclaim hall, T3 4 and 5 after security & arrivals
World of whiskies – a range of nearly 350 malts, including a number of rare and exclusive bottles and a knowledgeable and helpful team.Also wine, cognac, champagne, spirits & liqueurs.
terminals 3, 4 and 5, all after security
Least expensive: wine, under £10
Most expensive: £35k for John Walker & Sons signature Blend McLaren whisky!!