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The world's best toy shops

Christmas may be over for another year, but there are still birthdays to be bought for and these four toy shops are a delight in themselves - and not just for the kids, either!

Hamleys, London

Hamleys, London
Established in 1760, the seven-storey toy shop on Regents Street is a treat for any family shopping day in the capital. Rocking horses, dolls and other traditional toys, educational toys, globes, action figures, electronic and digital  wizardry, construction kits of all sorts, toys big and small for indoor and outdoor fun – not to mention a whole floor dedicated to every kind of soft toy imaginable, from life-sized jungle animals to pocket sized pets. Hamleys also has regular puppet shows, activities and competitions, and there are branches in the St Enoch Centre, Glasgow and at Dundrum, Dublin.

FAO Schwarz, New York

FAO Schwarz, New York
One of the most famous shops in the world, FAO Schwartz is named for its founder, Frederick August Otto Schwarz, who opened his first shop in Baltimore, Maryland in 1862. The flagship New York store has been at its current location since 1986 and specialises in one-of-a-kind, unique products. The oldest toy shop in the Unites States, FAO Schwarz is known world-wide from the scene in the movie Big, when Tom Hanks meets Robert Loggia in the toy store, and the two play a duet on the giant foot-operated piano keyboard in the store's Grand Hall. As well as three floors selling everything from bikes to Barbie dolls, the store has its own candy store, FAO Schweetz, brimming with sweet delights.

Barbie Store, Buenos Aires
Think pretty; think pink; think Barbie. And where better for fashion, fun and fantasy for little girls than the Barbie store in Buenos Aires? Rather than a traditional toy store, this is a play space where your little girl gets to be the princess, fairy, artist etc., just like Barbie, the world's number one fashion doll, as she plays with all the glamorous paraphernalia of dressing up. The kids' clothing on sale is also available in matching doll-sized versions. The Barbie Beauty Center offers beauty-salon hair styling and makeup, and themed parties can be arranged for girls aged three to 12. There's even a Barbie Tea House serving cakes, pies, trifles... – sugar and spice and all things nice.

Kiddy Land, Tokyo
With the slogan 'serving happiness since 1946' this trendy Japanese chain of over 80 shops is one of the most popular stores in Japan. It's been making dreams come true for Japanese children for half a century, and sells both national and international speciality articles and character items. Unsurprisingly, the iconic Hello Kitty brand has its own space at Kiddy Land, with an incredible collection of toys and themed accessories. A must for all lovers of kitsch.

And if you're wondering where to stay for your trip, why not check out hoteles.com where you'll find a range of accommodation close to each of these children's shopping paradises: In New York: Park Central, near Broadway, Fifth Avenue and Central Park; in London: The Rembrandt in the capital's fashionable Knightsbridge; in Buenos Aires: Awwa Suites & Spa – just in case the Barbie Beauty Center wasn't enough; and in Tokyo, the Grand Palace, whose restaurant located on the 23rd floor serves marvellous French cuisine and boasts a beautiful panoramic view of the city.

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