Duty Free Shopping: It’s Just a Showroom To Me


I have just got back from a sensational holiday in California where I was visiting my wonderful family over there. I enjoyed heat, outdoor swimming, fantastic food ( the USA has the best food ever!), and saw wild turkeys, sea otters, dolphins, pelicans, hummingbirds and sea lions.  It was idyllic and I cannot thank my wonderful relatives enough ( although Interflora will shortly be helping me out).



Naturally, whilst I was en route there and back, I made a beeline for World Duty Free (Heathrow Terminal Two) and made several conclusions:

  1. Nowhere will you find cuter mini sets of virtually every brand in cute boxes and cute bottles.
  2. Nowhere will you find bigger price hikes. Even Harrods is cheaper.

So what did I do at Duty Free?  I used it like a showroom and enjoyed testing the wide range of scents that I have not been able to try before.


Notably, one scent that stood out was Chanel No 19 Poudre, which I adored immediately ( I didn’t even dare look at the price), and several Guerlain Aqua Allegorias, which, in San Francisco International Airport, retailed at $75 (or £48.87).  In UK shops you can buy these from around £41.50 ( try Boots), or online at Amazon for just £31.12. In San Francisco Duty Free, I saw Elizabeth Arden Green Tea flankers, (which can be widely had for under £12 in the UK High Street),  retailing at $35, or £22.81.


There has recently been controversy over the fact that supposedly VAT free retailers in airports have not been  passing on the discounts to customers.  So the retailers are getting away without paying VAT, but still marking up the prices and fooling customers that they are getting a bargain.

Now I’m a realist and I don’t expect airports to be cheaper than High Streets, but a 100% mark up with no VAT taken off is really taking the biscuit.

What’s the one advantage of buying at Duty Free? My husband doesn’t know the above and thinks it’s traditional for me to pick up a bottle on holiday. The voice of my conscience was too loud, however, and I left the beautifully lit, fully stocked perfume outlets empty handed, but smelling great. For free.


You can buy Chanel No 19 Poudre from Boots for around £68, Elizabeth Arden flankers for under ten quid on allbeauty.com, and Guerlain Aqua Allegorias for around £31 on Amazon UK.

With love from Santa Cruz
With love from Santa Cruz

6 thoughts on “Duty Free Shopping: It’s Just a Showroom To Me”

  1. Uh oh, my other half is off to France for the weekend in a couple of weeks. Maybe he won’t pick me up something from Duty Free then.

    1. Hi Alibabes and thanks for commenting. I found perfume prices in France extortionate I’m sorry to say! Let him treat you to a big bottle of something when he gets back. We all deserve nice perfume! best wishes

  2. Those Santa Cruz sea lions are adorable. I always smile when I am reminded of that part of California and the happy times spent there on family holidays.

    I too skip purchases from duty free shops when on holiday. I don’t like keeping track of expensive new things when I’m traveling, so I don’t buy unless I spot something I know I can’t find anywhere else.

    1. Hi Tiffanie and thanks for commenting. Santa Cruz is such an upbeat happy day out. I had an ice cream so big I was embarrassed to be seen with it! I agree about expensive perfume. I’m always afraid the posh stuff will get nobbled at customs so I take the cheap replaceable stuff when going overseas.

      warm wishes

  3. I’m a big fan of the Aqua Allegoria line, with Nerolia Bianca being my favourite, and I’m also a huge fan of browsing around the olfactive rollercoaster that is duty free – I like to justify it as “research”..
    It’s a good job I work in fragrance or I’m afraid I’d be accused of being terribly indulgent haha!

    Another great read 🙂

Leave a Reply