Today’s gift shop hawks more than cheap toothpaste and forgettable postcards. Thanks to boutique hotels and upscale chains, everything from kimono robes to portable speakers are now up for grabs. We’ve rounded up six gift shops worth a stop on your travels, based on research and recommendations.
Hotel San José Store at Hotel San José, Austin, Texas
No trip to the live music capital would be complete without a South by Southwest onesie or a leather Baggu backpack roomy enough to fit your iPad Mini. You’ll find all this and more at the well-edited housewares shop — just make sure not to go over budget.
Madison Hall at Chicago Athletic Association, Chicago
Take a trip back in time to the jazz-fueled 1930s, when Aesop skincare, Tatine candles and Monocle Magazine were all the rage. Oh wait, that’s today? Never mind, you’ll still find what you need — and don’t need — at this stylish extension of the Roman + Williams hotel.
Ballymaloe Shop at Ballymaloe House, Shangarry, Cork, Ireland
Turns out Shangarry, once home of Pennsylvania founder William Penn, is a great place to stock up on bakeware. And kitchen utensils. And Irish cookbooks. After rolling out of bed from the Ballymaloe House next door, you can literally spend the day kitting out your kitchen in Celtic style. Who would blame you?
Drake General Store at The Drake, Toronto
Drake aptly bills itself as “a classic general store, a flea market stand and a museum shop all rolled into one,” where you’ll find practical and not-so-sensible gifts. Local goodies like Nicolas Vahe cake mix and Bata sneakers are tempting, but save your cash for the colorful Kreafunk headphones.
Eloise Shop at The Plaza, New York
Little girls — and little girls at heart — will be delighted by The Plaza’s pink-and-black homage to its most famous resident. Cool your heels in the living room or stage an impromptu costume party in the fashion room. Either way, you’re sure to enjoy this glimpse into the world of author Kay Thompson’s heroine.
Thornwillow Press at The St. Regis, New York
If your idea of a perfect weekend is thumbing through books in a wood-paneled library, hightail it to the “cognac room” off the St. Regis hotel’s lobby. There you’ll find the stately ambience of Thornwillow Press, where the selection of paper, ink and gilt are enough to make this writer’s eyes water. As you’d expect, all their printing is done at an old-fashioned factory.
Save on Your Next Trip
Planning a trip to New York to visit Eloise? You should probably make a plan to save on your travels. Rewards cards are a great way to do it, and they can help you nab some freebies — hello, first class — if you swipe them wisely. Remember, before you apply for any credit card, it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re likely to qualify. You can do that on Credit.com, where you’ll get two of your credit scores for free.