One of the highlights of travelling to a new city is the shopping.
And while the likes of New York, Paris and London may be the most famous shopping destinations that come to mind, many people overlook the chance to indulge in some high-end retail therapy at the airport.
Luxury brands and upscale boutiques are filling up airport terminals across the world, capitalising on people’s loose purse strings when they travel.
So, whether you’re killing time during a layover, looking to upgrade your wardrobe with a tax-free purchase, or simply searching for the perfect souvenir to bring home, these are the 10 best airports for luxury shopping.
Britain’s busiest airport and Europe’s busiest in terms of passenger traffic has won best airport for shopping for seven years in a row at the Skytrax World Airport Awards. And with good reason.
A recent £40m programme to attract some of the world’s most luxurious fashion brands to Terminal 5 has resulted in Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermes and Rolex joining the line-up of high-end boutiques in the terminal, making it even easier to whip out the credit card pre-flight. There’s also a brand new Harry Potter shop in terminal 5, for all your magical needs.
Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport
As the largest airport in south-east Asia, Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport is also one of the region’s best for shopping. A wide array of boutiques and world-famous brands, from Fendi to Prada, selling everything from perfume to cosmetics to jewellery.
If it’s luxury you’re looking for, head over to Level 4 in Concourse D, where the most exclusive top-end brands from around the world have set up shop, including Burberry, Bvlgari, Cartier, Dior, Hugo Boss and Swarovski.
Vancouver International Airport
Earlier this month, Vancouver International Airport was voted as the best airport in North America at the Skytrax World Airport Awards for the eighth consecutive year. And one of the main reasons the airport is so highly regarded is the nearby designer outlet mall.
Fashion-hungry travellers can browse designer names like Armani, Coach and Banana Republic at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver Airport, where hordes of world-famous brands are situated alongside nice restaurants and stylish coffee houses. Prices are also reduced, some up to 70%, making the Vancouver Airport all the more attractive to the savvy spender. The actual terminals also house more than 170 shops, services and restaurants.
Changi Airport Singapore
Easily the best airport in the world, with amenities such as a free cinema, the world’s first airport butterfly garden (with waterfall), and a rooftop swimming pool, Singapore’s Changi Airport is an attraction in its own right.
On top of that, a brand new complex is set to open in 2018 that will add to the already impressive haul of shops, entertainment facilities and hotels. Singapore is a huge shopping destination, and the 350-plus shops at Changi Airport grant visitors the chance to continue their spree all the way to departure. What’s more, for every $S10 you spend, you earn a free ride on the world’s tallest airport slide – a 12m, four-storey attraction found in Terminal 3.
Hong Kong International Airport
Home to two separate shopping malls, Hong Kong International is paradise for the trigger-happy credit card crusader. Between them, SkyMart and SkyPlaza offer nearly 300 retail options for travellers, making this one of the best airports in Asia to shop until you drop (or until your flight gets called).
Numerous luxury brands can be found in the SkyMart in Terminal 1, including Armani, Chanel and Versace. SkyPlaza is located in Terminal 2, where a variety of fashion, electronics and accessories can be purchased. SkyPlaza also features an impressive entertainment zone, with a 4D cinema and a sports simulator.
Dubai International Airport
Given the Emiratis’ love of luxury, it comes as no surprise that Dubai International Airport has no shortage of top-end boutiques and designer names. The airport essentially doubles as a duty-free shopping centre, with most of the luxury brands found in Terminal 3, the biggest airport terminal on the planet.
Along with posh spas and fancy lounges, Terminal 3 is home to retailers like Chanel, Hugo Boss and Christian Dior, among many others. There’s also two Apple stores, whilst watches from Montblanc, Cartier, Rolex and OMEGA can also be found here.
John F. Kennedy International Airport
The JFK airport is huge. If you’ve got some time to kill, and if you like to shop, then you’re in for a treat.
Although Terminal 4 is well-known for its fine-dining and upscale restaurants, Terminal 1 is where the majority of luxury names can be found – such as Cartier, Bvlgari, Hermes, and Salvatore Ferragamo – while there’s still plenty of big names spread across the rest of the airport’s 8 terminals.
Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
One of Europe’s nicest airports, with its clean and airy terminals, as well as a vast selection of shops, restaurants and entertainment. Many items even come with a lowest price guarantee, meaning that you won’t find them cheaper anywhere else in the Netherlands.
For the best deals, Schiphol Plaza shopping centre, located just beyond passport control, houses more than 75 tax- and duty-free stores, selling everything from perfume and clothing to toys and electronics. Expect to find international brands alongside typical Dutch products, all of which are on average 10% lower than in any major European city. Aviation enthusiasts should visit Planes@Plaza, a popular aviation-themed shop selling aircraft models and other air memorabilia.
It’s no secret that Seoul is a shopping mecca and this is also the case at Incheon International. A layover at this airport yields plenty of activities to pass the time. Throw down some cash at the casino, swings a club on the 72-hole golf course, or catch a film at one of two cinemas.
Or, as any true shopaholic would, whip out the credit card and pay a visit to high-end shops such as Burberry, Cartier, and the world’s first Louis Vuitton airport boutique.
Being one of the largest airports in Europe, Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport may not be the most attractive, but it does house a sea of shops. And this being Paris, the fashion capital of the world, exclusive brand names and designer boutiques that are usually seen along the Champs-Élysée are found throughout the airport’s three terminals.
However, Terminal 2 is perhaps the best if it’s luxury you’re after. It is home to upmarket brands such as Hermès, Salvatore Ferragamo and Longchamp. Looking for something shiny? Cécile et Jeanne, Hour Passion, and world-famous watchmakers Cartier are also housed within the terminal.
Airports are home to some of the best shopping of any destination, often at very reasonable prices. So, why waste valuable time carting heavy bags around the city when all of your shopping needs can be fulfilled at the airport on your way home?
Be sure to keep some extra space in your carry-on for those must-have shoes, that sparkling watch that caught your eye, or for that perfect gift you know your partner will adore. Happy shopping!