Whether you need a birthday present pronto or to restock your craft supplies, London's amazing variety of independent toyshops offer a genuinely exciting retail experience. Unique, lovingly stocked and carefully curated, these are shopping experiences you just don't get in a soulless supermarket or by clicking on a link. This is where London kids, the independent shoppers of the future, learn to browse, budget and spend their pocket money as they see fit.
London's Best Toyshops
Ottie and the Bea, Blackheath
Ottie and the Bea is more than just a toyshop, offering locals and Londoners from further afield the chance to join in workshops, special events and even a book club. If you're after something unique, this delightful shop offers arts and craft kits by Mitik and sewing kits from Miss Libby Rose that you really won't find in many other places. Owner Julia's top tips are Djeco and Maleg — two European toy brands that feature unique artistry and take real care over their creations. Time your visit right, and you'll spot some very special clocks adding to the shop's overall buzz.
Ottie and the Bea, 12 Old Dover Road, Blackheath Royal Standard, SE3 7BT
With three branches, Just Williams toyshops are a bit of a South London institution. Choose from the fab stock of quality toys whether you're in East Dulwich, Beckenham or Clapham South (the Herne Hill branch has now closed). We visited the cavernous Clapham location recently, and were stunned at the variety of toys on offer; from two packs of stickers for £1 to the ubiquitous Brio and Lego toys, and masses of moodily-lit Schleich animal figures. We're not sure we could call their latest warehouse-like location welcoming (the Herne Hill and East Dulwich branches have a much friendlier, local-indie-shop vibe) but we do think you'll find exactly what you're looking for.
Just Williams, 8b Balham Hill, Clapham South, SW12 9EA
Papagaio, Crystal Palace
We've told you about Crystal Palace's brilliant Papagaio before. It's another gorgeous, unique toyshop serving its community with lovely present ideas, wooden train set accessories, top pocket money toys, and science and craft activities for older kids. This being Crystal Palace, there's local talent on offer too: look out for artworks for your child's room by local illustrators and cuddly T-Rex toys (what else?).
Papagaio, 45 Westow Street, Crystal Palace, SE19 3RW
QT Toys, Northcote Road
One of the oldest shops on Northcote Road, QT Toys has been bringing fun and games to this slice of South West London since 1983. It's a mesmerising, packed place, so crammed full of toys they seem to be multiplying as you trip further down the narrow aisles, and spot even more items hanging precariously from the ceilings. A family-run enterprise, when we visited the owner's son Joseph (himself now dad to a toddler) was manning the till and happy to share a few secrets about growing up in a toyshop (yes, he was very occasionally allowed to play with some of the stock).
QT Toys, 90 Northcote Rd, SW11 6QN
Marmalade 250, Battersea
When Jolande Rowe moved into Battersea Park Road, her mum was worried about her living above an empty shop. But her daughter, then working at Selfridges, had different ideas. The empty retail space is now Marmalade 250, named after the family's jam-making traditions and, when we visit, Jolande's mum is happily sitting at a crafting table, stacking bits of cardboard. Since 2013, the toyshop has made an impact on the local community, offering families a fun place to browse and buy, despite it not being on the most pedestrian-friendly of thoroughfares. Pocket-money toys at ankle height rub shoulders with bigger ticket stuff (we spotted a £250 car, perhaps suited to some of Battersea's riverside mansion-dwellers), GALT classics and homemade cakes. Although the star attraction is probably Simon the miniature dachshund.
Marmalade 250, 250 Battersea Park Road, SW11 3BP
Little Heroes in Fulham
Owner Noushin's previous career was as a jet-setting fashion buyer; she's now turned all that fashion-nous into Little Heroes, a spick-and-span toyshop on the Fulham Road. Possibly the tidiest toyshop we've ever encountered, Little Heroes serves Fulham's European community with traditional wooden toys, as well as John Crane classics and exciting smaller toys and stickers for the kids to buy for themselves. We particularly liked the Peter Rabbit skittles.
Little Heroes, 638 Fulham Rd, London, SW6 5RT
Celebrity mums Honey Bowdrey and Jasmine Guinness opened Honeyjam in 2006, hoping to recreate the childhood fantasy of toyshops crammed with 'marvellous and desirable things'. Situated just off Portobello Road, the shop stocks a brilliant range of traditional and modern toys, as well as 'silly and educational' items. We loved their fun dressing up options. Look out for their unique Merrythought rabbit and fox teddies, handmade in the UK.
Honeyjam, 2 Blenheim Crescent, London, W11 1NN
Fagin's, Muswell Hill
Much like QT Toys in South London, Fagin's Toys in Muswell Hill has been around for a long time. It stocks a vast range of brilliant toys from big names like Lego, Playmobil and Melissa and Doug, to educational toys, dressing up kits and more. A one-stop-shop for all your kids' treats, Fagin's offers books, pocket-money or party bag toys, wrapping paper, even hair accessories.
Fagin's, 84 Fortis Green Road, London, N10 3HN
Have we missed your favourite London toyshop? Let us know in the comments below.
Last Updated 06 January 2017