Many airports have finally figured out that passengers with long layovers and passengers who arrive early for their flights not only have time on their hands, but they also have money in their wallets. As a result, many airport shopping centres now rival their city counterparts, featuring name brands at discount prices and many other services as well. Lucky you. Here are a few of the best European airports for shopping.
London Heathrow Airport
So you Finished that London trip, and you didn’t have time to make it to Harrods for that gift for Aunt Lucy. No worries. Just stop by the Harrods at Heathrow. And the Liberty. And Hermes, Prada and Versace. These are only a few reasons that Heathrow Airport was given the 2010 Skytrax World Airport Best Airport Shopping Award. If all that shopping has given you a crick in your neck, you can get a massage from the At Be Relax Spa, in Satellite Terminal 5B or relax in one of the YOTEL’s cabins, with their en suite bathrooms, free Internet access, and “techno wall” entertainment system. If you’re here for a layover, the Heathrow Express can have you inside Westminster Abbey inside an hour! And as you might expect, there are plenty of great hotels near Heathrow as well.
Munich International Airport
While Heathrow Airport 2010’s Best Shopping Award, Munich International Airport won the Skytrax World Airport Award for best airport in Europe in 2010 and was ranked number 4 in the world after the famous Singapore, Seoul, and Hong Kong airports. In addition to 150 shops, the airport is also popular with locals for the free concerts. Relaxation comes in the form of massages at the gate and “napcabs,” soundproofed mini-rooms designed for your snoozing pleasure. The airport also offers a cinema, and for those wanting some activity after a long flight, there’s soccer, beach volleyball, min-golf and even winter ice skating. And it’s no surprise that the city known for its Oktoberfest celebration would be the first to offer the world its first airport brewery, which is located at the Hofbräuhaus. If you find you’ve spent too much time at the Hofbräuhaus, the Kempinski Hotel Airport München offers a five-star location to spend the night, right at the airport, between Terminals 1 and 2. There are also plenty of other hotels near the airport.
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
The airport that Heathrow beat out for the Best Airport Shopping Award offers some amenities that cannot be found in any other airport in the world. In fact, much of the circle of life is represented here in the only airport that offers both a wedding chapel and a mortuary. The airport also offers the largest complex for duty-free shopping, with fifty shops and boutiques offering over 120,000 products at famously low prices. And then there’s Schiphol Plaza. Located before customs, this immense shopping venue caters to non-travelers as well. There’s also a library featuring 1,200 books in 29 languages, along with music from Dutch composers. Being a city of art and culture, Amsterdam has opened a branch of its iconic Rijksmuseum, offering a small overview of classical and contemporary art right at the airport. If you’d like to see more, then both Amsterdam and Den Haag are short train rides away, offering the chance to see the world’s greatest art during your layover. And don’t forget about all the nearby hotels.
Rome Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino Airport
Though the northern Italian city of Milan is regarded as the fashion capital of Italy, if not Europe, Fiumicino Rome Airport’s Shopping Gallery is famous for being the largest airport shopping center in Europe dedicated to luxury goods. The Shopping Gallery offers a whopping 140 stores featuring the biggest names in fashion, from Aeronautica Militare to Zoccai. High end products are offered at low end prices at such stores as Roma Travel Shop, Fabriano, Venchi, Tendenze, Riva, Dolce & Gabbana, Salvatore Ferragamo, Bulgari, Burberry, Prada… you get the picture. If you can’t wait to get home to try on your booty, you can always check into a nearby Fiumicino Airport hotel. The Hilton Garden Inn Rome Airport is actually located right in the airport.
Saving the biggest airport for last, Frankfurt Airport is continental Europe’s largest airport and one of the busiest, having moved 50,932,840 passengers in 2009. Also immense is its shopping, which is spread out over 20,000 square metres. Shops are open from 5:00 AM until 10:00 PM every day and range from supermarkets and delicatessens to classy clothes boutiques and photo shops. Hairdressers, textile cleaners and alteration tailors can also be found, and there’s even a sex shop where one can buy goods of an adult nature. Also in the adult category is the Airport Casino, where passengers can try their luck at Roulette, Black Jack and many slot machines. Player’s Island offers more slot machines, BigCash Club, Internet terminals, computer games and much more, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If all that activity has you too tired to head into town, there are many airport hotels that are much closer.