Stansted Airport • Going for Olympic Gold ....
Stansted - London's third-busiest airport, but it celebrates more scheduled destinations throughout Europe than any other airport, making it something of a world champion. And with London hosting the 2012 Olympics, it’s hoping even more passengers will appreciate that its tax and duty free shopping options will leave rival airports unable to catch up.
Travellers looking for great gifts also have a reason to celebrate at Stansted Airport: its new London Olympics 2012 shop. Unveiled in September 2011, the 1400-square-foot store will give you a golden opportunity to stock up on a piece of sporting history on your way through the airport. The store offers a huge range of branded souvenirs, toys and fashion accessories. With everything from Team GB sportwear, designed by Stella McCartney for Adidas, to a Team GB Scalextric Velodrome electric racing set, there are items available for pocket-money prices as well as high-end collectibles which make for unique gifts.
The main retail attraction in the departure lounge, however, has to be the large World Duty Free store. A must for a premium range of fragrances from prestige brands such as Armani, Givenchy, Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss and Davidoff, and top-end cosmetics from Estée Lauder, Guerlain, Lancôme, Chanel and many more. The WDF store also carries a wide range of your favourite leading spirits, from Gordon's gin and Smirnoff to vintage Laurent Perrier Champagne and Moët & Chandon. If whiskey is your drink of choice, though, cross the departure lounge to visit the comprehensive range of premiere single malts, blends and bourbons in the stand-alone World of Whiskies store. Scottish favourites like Glenfiddich and Laphroaig are of course represented, but so are a wide range of specially selected international whiskies.
For the fashionistas among you, prepare to be spoiled. The airport's Mulberry store offers classic British design and craftsmanship, with its stand-out range an extensive line of luxury bags. Monsoon and Accessorize will also vie for your time. For the dapper men among you, consider Hackett for, as they call it, the Essential British Kit, from business and formal to casual and sporting clothing. And for watches, take a minute or five to browse the Master of Time outlet, which offers brands such as Tag Heuer, Gucci and Armani, and fashion jewellery from the likes of DKNY and Guess.
For passengers flying within the EU that are looking to shop before their flight, but who don't like the idea of schlepping bags around or who do not want to take their purchases on their trip, help is at hand at Stansted. The airport's free Shop & Collect service means that you can shop in all of the airside shops without having to lift a finger, or a shopping bag. Everything that you buy will be stored and insured during your trip. Then, when you get back, all you need to do is pick up your goods as come back through the airport, once you have gone through customs. That is especially good news if you select heavy or fragile purchases. It also means that you can avoid the rules on carrying liquids on your flight back. If you have no time to browse before your outward leg, bear in mind that there's a smaller WDF store in the arrivals area of Stansted airport.
If you would rather relax in more sedate surroundings before take-off. Stansted Airport also has a number of airside lounges to consider booking in to. Its two "No. 1 Traveller Lounges" offer a range of freshly prepared dishes and a range of complimentary alcoholic and soft drinks, along with magazine, newspapers and television. Then there's the airport's Servisair Executive Lounge, where you'll appreciate excellent service and hospitality for as much as three hours before your flight. Perfect.