Best Airports For Duty Free Shopping

Where to buy fragrances, gold, food, art, chocolates, spirits and cigars  

Best for fragrances

Les Exclusifs de Chanel, the range of a dozen hard-to-track down perfumes that include such rare and glorious scents as No 18, No 22, 31 Rue Cambon, Cuir de Russie and Coromandel retail at £160/€180/$200/Rs 10,000 for 200ml. More than that, they are available only in Chanel boutiques, not at beauty counters or in regular duty-free perfumeries. But at Heathrow’s Terminals 3 and 5 in London, there are exquisitely designed, dedicated Chanel perfume boutiques stocking this highly desirable range at discounted prices.

Best for gold

Doha airport in Qatar has a special terminal building just for First and Business Class passengers with brands like Cartier and Chopard stocking jewellery there. Also stands devoted to selling 18ct, 22ct and 24ct gold jewellery, from delicate filigree necklaces to chunky bangles, by way of simple chains and elaborate earrings. Just remember, the shades of gold on sale are typically very yellow.

Best for foodstuffs

Of course it’s a matter of taste, but the gravadlax (marinated salmon), jars of fish roe (notably those from vendace and bleak), smoked reindeer meat, cloudberry jam and range of crispbreads on sale at Fine Food in Terminal 2 of Arlanda airport in Stockholm, Sweden, is the best I’ve come across. The wine and spirits shop in the departure lounge at Split airport in Croatia is an unlikely source of black truffles and excellent truffle oil.

Best for art

One of the largest hubs in Europe, Amsterdam’s Schiphol is also the only airport in the world to have an art gallery hung with world-class paintings. Located beyond passport control, between Piers E and F, Rijks museum Amsterdam Schiphol not only has gallery space and a changing programme of exhibitions featuring works from its peerless collection of Dutch art, but an excellent shop selling reproductions, prints, art books, Delft ceramics and other souvenirs. Closer home, Mumbai airport now displays works from artists such as Baiju Parthan, Sunil Padwal, Thota Vaikuntam, Anjolie Ela Menon and Datta Bansode, but, sadly, none are for sale.

Best for chocolates

No surprises here. Given the strength of the Swiss franc, it’s hard to make a case for the pecuniary advantages of shopping at Zurich Airport, but it’s worth making an exception for watches. It is also a marvellous place for chocolate, particularly Confiserie Sprüngli in Dock E, where the truffles are made fresh daily, and the macaroons—Luxemburgerli, they call them—are even more delicious than those from Ladurée. Look out, too, for their Grand Cru Chocolat Chaud, the ne plus ultra of hot-chocolate mixes, made from Ecuadorean and Venezuelan beans.

Best for spirits and cigars

It’s an irony that a country where transporting alcohol is a criminal offence should offer the widest range of liquor in its airport, but for variety you probably can’t beat Dubai Duty Free. Its Casa de Habano also offers an outstanding range of Cuban cigars.

 

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Claire Wrathall

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