Last-minute gift guide for globetrotters

Image of Tyler Brûlé

There’s a strong possibility that you’re settled in with this column and it’s both aiding and abetting your present-purchasing procrastination. Fortunately you have time to order one more spiced apple cider (if you happen to be running around London today you must try the cider at La Fromagerie in Marylebone), because about 10 lines down the page I’ve done most of the difficult work for you. All you have to do is make your way to the store (or call, or venture online) and part with your cash.

To keep things straightforward for our global readership, I’ve identified three hubs that should be within reasonable travelling time if you board a plane, hop on a train or set out on foot over the next few hours. To make things even more streamlined, I’ve created special categories for the nearest and dearest on your shopping list.

For readers in Asia, jump on a flight to Tokyo Haneda, hire a driver and whip round the city on Sunday – starting at 11am when the shops open. To keep things geographically confined, I suggest hitting Daikanyama, Meguro, Aoyama and a little bit of Shibuya and Harajuku.

For your hard-working personal assistant (male): United Arrows in Harajuku is an excellent one-stop shop. A canvas and leather tote bag from the British brand Whitehouse Cox should please the most fickle support staff. You can fill it with natty pocket squares and perhaps a pair of wool gloves in a bold colour.

For your harder-working personal assistant (female): head along Meiji-dori and pop into Tomorrowland for a woven, stretchy fur collar. I bought one for my senior editor Sophie and she can’t take it off. Made in Japan, it can be worn as a scarf, shawl style or even as a bandeau.

For your kids (under 10): even if they’re not into trains, why not convert them? Takara Tomy’s dinky Shinkansen train set is something that can grow over time (the range seems limitless) while you build your own high-speed network in your sitting room. Tokyo Kiddyland is the best station to pull into to stock up.

For your life partner: when it comes to beds the Japanese seem to know a thing or two. The engineers at Nihon Bed are responsible for the best night’s sleep at the Park Hyatt and I can highly recommend the firmer end of their range for restful nights and mornings propped up doing work – or otherwise.

For readers in Europe (or EMEA – Europe, the Middle East and Africa) I think London’s a good bet, providing the airports are functioning and you can get a hotel room (a day trip is an even better option). To cover maximum territory I’m keeping the whole tour within the confines of Mayfair and Marylebone.

For your boss: pay a visit to Hedonism wine and ask for Honami Matsumoto. A specialist in wines, spirits and sakes, she’ll be able to pull together a nice bottle or two for your commander-in-chief and do a lovely job of the gift wrapping too.

For the neighbours (the ones you really like): take a tour up to Wigmore Street and pop into Margaret Howell. You could opt for one of the handsome Sori Yanagi casserole dishes but a wool blanket from Eleanor Pritchard (woven in Wales) might be more appropriate. They have an earthy, slightly digital-inspired blanket that would suit most interiors.

For your parents: stay at Margaret Howell and go for some chunky knitwear for keeping the winter chill at bay. They have some particularly nice shawl-collar, cashmere cardigans that are knit in Scotland.

Finally, readers in North America can do an efficient Santa-style haul by tackling Toronto over the course of a well-planned afternoon and staying south of Bloor Street. You can even plan a spot of lunch at the delicious Hey Meatball (a favourite of my colleagues) on College Street.

For your sister: you can get a lot done on Dundas Street West and there’s an excellent range of housewares at the sparse but perfectly appointed Bookhou. It is stocked with lovely paper products, graphic prints on nubby cottons and smart-looking pieces in wood, most of which are made locally.

For your brother: add to the family library by losing an hour or two in the Monkey’s Paw (also on Dundas Street West) and rummaging around for rare journals on graphic design or camp bits of erotica from the 1950s. Dealing exclusively in vintage books, they also do a handsome tote bag that will show up most other wrapping under the tree.

For your very best friend (male or female): dip into Hive, off Queen Street East, and hopefully they’ll still have a few nice garments left from Vancouver-based Reigning Champ. A cosy sweatshirt or cardi-style blazer in herringbone is just the item for long flights or cosy nights in.

Merry Christmas!

Tyler Brûlé is editor-in-chief of Monocle magazine

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