A shopping guide to Heathrow Terminal Three ….
Terminal Three (T3) was once the retail jewel in the crown of London Heathrow. Its dream mix of minted long-haul passengers from Asia, the US and the Middle East made T3 the ideal place for Heathrow operator BAA to cram in as many top-class retail names and luxury designer fashion brands as possible once the ageing 1960s building had undergone a costly expansion and refurbishment. The opening of Terminal 5 in 2008 has undoubtedly stolen much of T3’s limelight, but the terminal remains a world-class shopping destination and the equal of all but a few of the biggest international hubs worldwide.Perhaps the biggest improvement BAA has made to T3 is the main entrance, pre-security and arrivals area. Drawing up in a taxi to board a flight leaving from the grey, drab, crumbling T3 with its crazily low ceilings used to be a depressing experience. Happily, a new four-lane drop off area, a pedestrianized plaza and the superbly light and airy Virgin Atlantic check-in zone, have transformed this area of the airport since their completion back in 2007.There are shops too in this pre-security section of the terminal. High Street chemist Boots is the place to pick last-minute holiday medicines and travel essentials such as sun cream and sunglasses, but do remember about the continuing EU-wide restrictions on carrying liquids in hand luggage. Travellers will also find a Glorious Britain souvenirs store, several bureaux de change outlets, a sports store (Hargreaves) and newsagent WHSmith.
Passengers arriving at Terminal 3 get a last chance to shop at tax-free prices thanks to a small, World Duty Free arrivals shop. It obviously stocks a far smaller range than the main departures store, but it is still a handy place to pick up eleventh hour gifts such as fragrances, chocolates and Champagne at comparatively cheap prices. We must also recommend the M&S Simply Food outlet, which stocks a great range of sandwiches, wraps, fresh produce and ready meals.
Getting through immigration and security at T3 is not quite the breeze that T5 is. Once travellers have navigated the long queues of security they find themselves in an enormous walk-through World Duty Free departures shop, which while undoubtedly impressive, is a little confusing if you need to get to your gate in a hurry. There are flight departure screens within the store, but the lack of clear views across the departure lounge and the winding pathway going nowhere in particular are annoying.
Nonetheless, one has to acknowledge the sheer size and quality of the WDF store, whose beauty area has to be one of the largest at any European airport. The selection of fragrances here is breath taking and with prices up to 40% cheaper than the UK High Street, it is well worth checking the retailer’s website, www.worlddutyfree.com before you travel to see all the latest launches. As of January 2012, new arrivals included the sensually musky Prada Candy at £56.80 (80ml), the fresh, spicy Yves St. Laurent L’Homme Libre at £44.60 (100ml) and the woody, masculine Marc Jacobs Bang Bang at £41.00.
As ever, it is well worth keeping an eye out for exclusive gift and travel sets from the big beauty houses that you just won’t find anywhere else. Current examples include the Lancôme Travel Chic Palette at £46.30, which contains six eye shadows, two lipsticks, a mascara and compact powder stored in a sequined clutch bag, as well as the Biotherm Homme Travel Box at £26.55, which features a 75ml shower gel, moisturising gel, deodorant, cleansing gel and shaving foam.Malt whiskies are always a strong point for WDF and in T3 a new high-tech World of Whiskies outlet has just opened. Expect plenty of customer interaction with touch-screen technology allowing customers to learn more about the brands on offer. Look out too for monthly in-store recommendations from WDF’s own resident whisky boffin, the celebrated whisky writer Charles Maclean, who also writes a regular column on the retailer’s excellent website, www.worldofwhiskies.com.The terminal’s fine wine offer has also received a boost recently following the opening of a new Wine Collection: Fine: Rare & Vintage outlet. The shop is based on the same successful format as the first Wine Collection store, which opened in T5 back in 2010• a great selection of predominantly Old World wines chosen for their quality rather than their reputation within the wine world. There are plenty of wines in the £15-20 price bracket and it is well worth asking staff for a recommendation.
Fashion was always a strong point for T3 and the current line up takes some beating if designer brands are your thing. Burberry, Paul Smith, Hermes, Kurt Geiger, Thomas Pink, Miu Miu and Gucci all trade here. And as if that wasn’t enough, the terminal’s large Harrods store contains several boutiques from the likes of Ralph Lauren, Ferragamo and Cartier.
Spanish fashion wear brand Zara is a welcome recent addition to the fashion mix at T3. Offering lines from the brand’s premium women’s collection, Zara Studio, as well as a range of accessories including handbags and shoes, Zara offers style at relatively reasonable prices: something which can’t be said for much of the rest of the terminal’s high-end shopping offer.
Those seeking a souvenir to remind themselves of their stay in Britain are likely to be disappointed by T3, but at least there is a newly opened London 2012 shop, which sells a wide range of Olympics-related merchandise. We particularly like the retro-style London 2012 Olympic Museum passport holder (£8) and the colourful Olympics poster collection from Games past and present, (£5-10).
When it comes to finding a bite to eat at T3, the choice of eateries and cafés has improved greatly in recent years. There is stylish Japanese food at trendy Yo Sushi, top-rate sandwiches from Prêt a Manger, hot soups and healthy salads from EAT, Italian fare from Strada, as well as spanking fresh seafood from Caviar House and Prunier. Expect many of these places to get crowded though as the terminal still feels a little claustrophobic at times (the lack of seating and natural light doesn’t help).
These problems reflect the fact that BAA has had to make improvements and alterations to what is effectively a 1960s building. Having said that, there are yet more plans in the pipeline to expand and upgrade T3 over the next ten years so many of these issues will be addressed eventually.