Tax Free Travel Guide to London Heathrow Terminal 2
Travelling through the old Heathrow Terminal 2 (T2) wasn’t an experience many passengers wanted to repeat in a hurry. The Europa Building as it was called back then opened in 1955 when air travel was still a novelty for the rich. By the time it closed in 2010 this dingy, cramped and decrepit building with its low ceilings and tatty carpets was coping with nearly eight times more travellers than it was originally designed for.
The bright, shiny, new £2.5bn T2, which opened in June 2014, is as different from its crumbling predecessor as a flea-bitten donkey is to a thoroughbred racing horse. In addition to a quick, efficient security check process and big, airy spaces, the new Queen’s Terminal (as it now known officially) offers a truly fantastic line-up of shops and restaurants.
Let’s start our shopping tour of the new Queen’s Terminal with the main World Duty Free (WDF) store (open 05.00-22.00 hours). which can’t be missed thanks to an enormous plasma screen which runs across the top of the shop entrance, flashing up ad messages and price promotions. The huge beauty hall features 15 personalized beauty areas from a mix of big brands such as Chanel, Dior and Estée Lauder and some more niche products such as Dr Sebagh, an anti-ageing skincare range promoted by a celebrity-feted Harley Street doctor, and BareMinerals, an award-winning make-up line.
A great feature of the new WDF store is the range of free beauty treatments on offer, which could be just what you need to arrive at your destination looking radiant rather than bedraggled. Treatments typically last 5-10 minutes and no bookings are necessary. Treatments include skin consultations, hand massages, make-up tutorials and mini-facials. Also recommended is the handy touch-screen fragrance finder, ideal for nervous male travellers trying to find the right scent to take home as a gift for the woman in their life!
Fashion and jewellery are also strong product categories. Thirty-seven different sunglass brands are stocked including the likes of Gucci, Ray-Ban and Oakley. Jewellery brands available include crystal specialist Swarovski, the reasonably priced but pretty Pandora, and Buckley. Some 14 watch makes are present too, including three brands new to Heathrow: Marc Jacobs, Dreyfuss & Co. and Vivienne Westwood.
Not everything is great, however. The selection of British souvenirs and gifts is a bit tacky. Whether it is key rings, mugs or fridge magnets, everything seems to have a Union Jack flag printed on it. A better selection of British gifts and brands can be found at Terminal 2’s John Lewis store (open every day from 05.30-22.00 hours). John Lewis is a well-known UK department store, which sells everything from high-end fashion to curtains and lawnmowers.
At Heathrow, however, the focus for John Lewis is on high-end British brands well-known around the world such as outdoor fashion label Barbour, a must-have for the country-set, Orla Kiely, known for her delightful retro prints, luxury chocolate maker Charbonnel et Walker and stylish British menswear label Hackett. Also look out for John Lewis’ own understated, classy Weekend womenswear and Croft homeware Collections.
Other stores with a specifically British slant include the floral-print obsessed Cath Kidston, a big hit with many Asian travellers. Here you’ll find everything from china and bed linen to bags, accessories, stationery and kids clothing, and don’t forget celebrated British men’s fashion designer Paul Smith whose store sells great-looking shirts, socks, jeans and even spectacles. Other shops in the terminal include shirt retailer Thomas Pink, hot British fashion label Burberry, electronics retailer Dixons and newsagent WHSmith.
For a full rundown of what shops are trading at Heathrow T2 check out this online directory at http://www.heathrowairport.com/shop,-eat,-relax-and-enjoy/shops-a_z?terminal=Heathrow%20T2. Also note that T2 boasts the world’s first Personal Shopping Lounge, which features a team of multi-lingual sales assistants who can advise travellers on choosing the right gift for a loved one or a new outfit for a special occasion from any one of Heathrow’s 400 stores.
The Personal Shopping Lounge is is free to use, but appointments must be a made a minimum of 48 hours before you travel. The online booking form can be found here: https://boutique.heathrow.com/index.php/personal-shopper-form.
In summary the range of shops and restaurants at Heathrow T2 is really top-notch and along with the excellent retail selection at Terminal 5 the new Queen’s Terminal goes a long way to establishing Heathrow as one of the world’s best airports for shopping. Now that T2’s fortunes have been restored let’s hope the airport’s owners turn their attention the ageing Terminal 1 as soon as possible.