If you know someone who’s visiting London in 2020, getting them a gift that they’ll be able to use while on their trip is a GREAT idea. Or, if YOU’RE the one who will be visiting, pass this London gift guide onto your friends and family so they get some great ideas for what to get you for the holidays.
In addition to being great London gift ideas, just about everything mentioned in this London gift guide is produced or provided by small businesses in the UK that can always use your support at this time of year.
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Stocking-stuffer London gift ideas
These are some small items you can buy someone visiting London in 2020 that will come in handy if they pop up in their stocking.
Travel size umbrella
Anyone visiting London will need a travel-sized umbrella, it’s good to have on hand because you never know when a little shower might pop up when you’re out and about. The caveat with the travel-sized umbrellas, however, are that they don’t hold up in the wind.
So it might be that your giftee will prefer the harder-to-carry-but much nicer large clear umbrella. I hate having to carry it around but it’s much better for keeping dry, and the clear option makes it easier to see.
Refillable water bottle or coffee cup
London is really not keen on throw away plastic bottles and coffee cups anymore, so if your giftee likes liquids on the go, then a refillable water bottle or reusable coffee cup would make a lovely gift. It’s getting pretty easy to find places to refill water bottles around London, plus they can do so when hanging at a restaurant or a cafe, and having a refillable coffee cup is great because a lot of place sin London actually give a discount to people who bring their own cup for tea or coffee. So it’s a gift that saves the planet AND their money.
BTW, I’d probably go for the smaller water bottle size because it will be easier to carry around then the usual big guys.
Visitor Oyster Card
Give the gift of free public transportation! You can order a visitor oyster card ahead of time, and load it up with as much money as you want, I’d say go with about £7 per day that they’ll be in London.
Another thing most people need when visiting London is a power adapter. If you’re coming from pretty much anywhere but the UK, your plugs won’t fit into the sockets here. So go on Amazon and grab some adapters for them to use for their phone chargers and such. Make sure it’s the correct one for your recipient’s country’s plugs.
Keep reading for larger gift ideas…
A London Tour gift voucher
There are a couple of tour companies that I recommend for London tours that are actually good and worth the money, and that contribute to the local economy. Both offer gift cards for tours that can be used in London and also other cities.
Eating Europe does food tours in London and many other major cities around Europe. You should tell your recipient to have a look at the East End tour, it combines food, East London history and street art, it’s fantastic. See Eating Europe’s gift card options.
Urban Adventures is a worldwide company but they focus on responsible tourism, so you can be sure that your guides are local and paid well, and that what you’re doing is contributing to the local culture and economy, not taking from it. See Urban Adventures’s gift card options.
An afternoon tea experience
London visitors absolutely must go for afternoon tea, it’s tradition, and such a lovely experience. The easiest way to purchase this for someone is to do so on a gift voucher site like Virgin Experience Days.
Here are some examples:
G & Tea at Mr. Fogg’s – this is afternoon tea with a gin twist. I’ve done this, it’s a bit theatrical, but entertaining, and great for gin lovers (in fact I would say not to get this unless the recipients enjoy gin.)
Afternoon tea at the Conrad St. James Hotel – I’ve been twice to this afternoon tea, and with a glass of champagne, it’s good value. They sometimes have a harpist playing during the tea sitting, and the hotel isn’t far from Buckingham Palace.
Luxurious tea at Fortnum & Mason – Fortnum and Mason’s afternoon tea is one of the most famous and iconic in London.
Afternoon tea at The Ritz – another iconic afternoon tea, and the experience would make as an incredible gift.
Tips for booking an afternoon tea experience on a voucher site:
- Double check the terms and conditions of the voucher before you buy it, as you’ll want to make sure that it’s redeemable for the dates that your recipient will actually be in London.
- If you’re on Virgin Experience Days, some of the offers on there are for terrible afternoon teas. Honestly, I would avoid Cafe Rouge, Caffe Concerto, Patisserie Valerie, and well, generally speaking, you get what you pay for when it comes to that site.
Food or drink experiences
Along the same lines as the afternoon tea experiences, these gift experience sites usually have lunch or dinner experiences you can get too. Often, they’ve got good deals for lunches at high-end, Michelin starred restaurants, so that would make a great gift.
Here are some examples:
Three Course Lunch with Cocktail for Two at Michelin Starred Benares – Benares is located in Mayfair and does beautiful, high-end Indian cuisine. Highly recommended. Also look at the 6-course dinner tasting menu.
Three Course Meal and Cocktail for Two at the top of the Gherkin – this is an experience I personally have not gotten to have yet but it will be an unforgettable one when I do. I have been to the top of the Gherkin for an event and the views are stunning.
Three Course Lunch for Two at Michelin starred Seven Park Place – a great deal for a Michelin starred meal.
Just as with afternoon tea, you get what you pay for with these things. Don’t buy them anything for Bella Italia, Cafe Rouge, Jamie’s Italian, the Ice Bar, or Brasserie Blanc. They’ll be crap.
Airport Lounge Pass
I’ve had an airport lounge pass for a couple of years now and I think it would make a great gift for someone who’s a frequent traveler. Lounge passes give its holder free access to hundreds of airport lounges around the world, so they can sit comfy with free food, a glass of wine, and free wifi before their flight. It’s super luxurious for not that much cost.
I have the Priority Pass and I recommend it– the one I have gets two people into a lounge for free, plus two more for minimal cost, and can be used at every terminal at London Heathrow and London Gatwick airports. But there are different price options depending on your budget.
Tickets for London attractions
Some London visitors will want to experience at least one or two attractions while they’re here. Those tickets can really add up cost-wise, so getting them as a gift would certainly be appreciated.
There are a few ways you could go about doing this…
If there’s something that you know the gift receiver really wants to do, you could just go ahead and buy the ticket for them. How this works varies by attraction, however, some of them require you to buy a ticket for a specific day and time, and that’s when it could get a little tricky because you’ll need to make sure that you’re choosing a day and time that doesn’t conflict with anything else they want to do.
Alternatively, you could get them an attraction pass like The London Pass or the London Explorer Pass. Both work a little bit differently, but in the end they give the ticket holder free entrance to select attractions across London. By getting one of these passes, it gives your recipient more freedom for what attraction they choose to go to, and also when they go. For some help with these two passes, read my honest reviews…
One more option is to get them a ticket for a Hop On Hop Off bus tour. They can use the ticket on any day that they’d like, and they get 24 hours of using those classic “hop on hop off” buses as they like, giving them flexibility to see what they want. For more info on the pros and cons of these types of buses, watch this video.
West End theatre tickets
The West End is London’s world-famous theatre district, so tickets to a show are a great idea for anyone who likes theatre.
Here are some shows I suggest:
The Lion King – absolutely breathtaking performance. Great for both kids and adults.
The Book of Mormon (my favourite show in London. Not for anyone offended by religious humor!)
You might need to check with your gift recipient to see when they have a free night or afternoon to see a show, to make sure it doesn’t interfere with anything else they’ve already booked.
Beautiful photos of them on their London trip
If you think that your recipient would like some lovely photos of their visit to London, you could get them a professional vacation photo shoot. They’ll have a private photographer with them who will get some gorgeous photos of them around the city. It makes for a souvenir from their trip that everyone will enjoy for the rest of their lives.
A great travel camera
If your gift recipient loves taking beautiful photos of their travels themselves, I’m sure they’d love a gear upgrade.
I am an avid travel photographer and I have two items I recommend…
Google Pixel 4
This is the phone I use (it was gifted from Google btw) and it takes insane photos. It’s actually what I use to take just about all of my photos on the Love and London Instagram account. The photos usually don’t need tons of editing and the Night Sight mode is my favourite setting as it takes really good photos even when there is very little light available.
If they might want something a little more substantial than a phone, then I personally use a Canon M50. It’s a mirrorless camera so it’s small and light, and therefore great for travel, but it’s just as powerful as a larger DSLR camera. It has automatic settings for beginner photographers, and also goes completely manual for more advanced ones.
Their trip itinerary completely planned
If your gift recipient is short on time and can’t spend hours and hours researching and planning each of their days in London, they’ll appreciate a London travel guide made by a local. The 3-Day London Itinerary is a super flexible way for London visitors to easily see a ton of the city in three days, with options to see both the famous sights and also discover hidden gems that only a Londoner who’s been in the city for years could know about.
Get the 3-Day London Itinerary.
Luggage for their London trip
Luggage is something that travelers don’t like buying for themselves, but LOVE getting as gifts. So consider getting a new carry-on suitcase or big checked-baggage suitcase, or one in the middle, for your giftee.
I personally always recommend people to get hardcase suitcases, because I once had a terrible incident on a Vietnamese flight that involved fish juice getting all over my suitcase and clothes… because it went through the fabric on the case. Hard cases protect from liquids and damage too.
Have a look at Away’s suitcase options, they are simply designed and also include a removable battery in the carry-on sizes, so electronics can be charged by just plugging into the suitcase.
I personally would love someone to get me an “in between” checked bag… I, and I think a lot of people have the carry-on bag, and they have a really big suitcase for those longer big trips, but for those week-long trips where you don’t need ALL of that space in your checked bag, but you can’t do just carry-on only, the Medium from Away works perfectly. I actually need to go order that excuse me…
Alternatively Horizn Studios has a similar option, but theirs includes a built-in charger even in their checked-bag options. Their cases are shown in the image above.
Which of these gifts do you think is the best for someone visiting London in 2020? Let me know in the comments.