12 Shopping Malls so Spectacular They’re Worth Traveling To
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Predictions of the imminent demise of luxury shopping malls may be just a bit premature, even in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic. Don’t believe it? Check out our correspondent Jillian Tangen’s curated a list of 12 over-the-top luxury shopping malls that are destinations so spectacular that they’re actually worth traveling to see and experience. With food, shopping, entertainment and even “outdoor” sporting events, you can happily spend a day (or more) at the mall this year. Just wear comfortable shoes! Here are the luxury shopping malls around the world that are worth the trip.
forget what you may have heard: luxury shopping malls are still with us
With the holiday gift giving season well under way, we’ve been thinking a lot about shopping malls. In our teenage years, malls were our home away from home. We strolled with friends there, flirted with high school crushes there, and people-watched from the safety of the food court. Some of us even had our first part-time jobs at the local mall.
And of course, we shopped for the latest trends and our yearly holiday gifts at the mall. After all, with all of our favorite stores under one roof, it couldn’t have been any easier.
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Fast-forward to today, though, and as adults living in New York, malls have become pretty much a thing of the past for us. In part that’s because the free-standing retail shopping in Manhattan is really good. Also, there aren’t that many traditional mall options that are really close to New York City. And well, the malls in the nearby surrounding suburbs just don’t feel compelling enough to travel to these days.
there are luxury destination shopping malls that are actually worth traveling to see
That being said, one nearby mall in Greater New York has piqued our interest. And made us think with a more open mind about the joys that a world-class shopping mall can offer.
That’s right, dear reader, we’re talking about the American Dream mall in New Jersey which just last month opened its long awaited luxury wing. And it’s not a one-off. There are a growing number of over-the-top luxury malls around the world, featuring a whole lot more than just shopping and people watching.
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In these epic destination malls, you’ll find movie theaters, ice skating rinks, roller coasters, water parks, live entertainment and ski slopes. Some even have medical facilities to foster medical tourism.
These mega-malls house not just a few hundred, but thousands of stores. On top of that, there are celebrity-chef driven gourmet restaurants and food courts and spas. And even 4- and 5-star hotels attached to the mall, where you can settle in and make a long weekend of it. Talk about a shopper’s dream!
the top destination luxury shopping malls in the world
If you’re looking to step up your gift-giving game while also indulging your wanderlust (as if shopping for gifts wasn’t adventurous enough), here are 12 destination malls to add to your holiday shopping itinerary this year.
1. K11 Musea, Hong Kong
In August 2019, the stunning K11 Musea complex opened in Hong Kong. It’s the centerpiece of a 10-year, $2.6 billion development of Victoria Dockside on the Kowloon side of Victoria Harbour,
The new space features 250 retailers, 70 destination restaurants and 40 artist installations.The ground floor is a cosmic mash-up of glittering metallic orbs and wood-paneled walls and parquet floors.
In addition to luxury retail, K11 Musea hosts a new permanent home for L’École School of Jewelry Arts, sponsored by luxury jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels. There’s a gold cube-shaped coffee bar called the “Kube” serving beverages from a cult Kyoto roaster.
James Corner, the landscape architect behind the High Line in New York, has restored the Avenue of the Stars, a harbor-front walkway with panoramic views of Hong Kong Island’s skyline.
On the roof, a 30-foot-tall slide in the shape of a peacock presides over it all, alongside an “urban farm” and a butterfly garden.
The combination of contemporary art, luxury retail, chic fine dining establishments and lots of glorious outdoor space seems like a formula that might revive the very idea of a shopping mall. Stay tuned for further updates on how the new space performs over time.
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2. The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Home to a host of luxury fashion and retail brands and flagship stores including Valentino, Patek Philippe and the iconic Louis Vuitton Maison ‘island’, as well as an entire floor that’s home to five celebrity chef-led restaurants, the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands is a complex that’s just large enough, without feeling unpleasantly overwhelming and frantic.
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands mall doesn’t have thousands of stores like some of the others on this list. But it has the right stores. And the Marina Bay Sands hotel and resort is an iconic luxury property in Singapore, so what better place to make home base as you explore this particular opulent retail paradise?
3. the mall of america, bloomington, minnesota
All of these attractions plus even a few more, combined with 520 stores, explains why Minnesota’s The Mall of America is not only the largest mall in America. It’s a place that people plan a 3-day visit around – which is pretty easy to do, since there are over 50 hotels within 10 minutes of the mall. Including a JW Marriott and a Radisson Blu that are directly adjacent. So no worries about that famously cold Minnesota weather!
The Mall of America is one of the most visited shopping malls in the world, with over 40 million people passing through each year. Need another reason to visit? There’s no sales tax on clothes in Minnesota.
There’s more to come, too. Bloomington city officials are moving ahead with steps to create a $260 million water park at the Mall of America. Work has resumed after the coronavirus pandemic put the project on hold.
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4. grand canal shoppes, las vegas, nevada
Why walk from store to store when you can ride in a gondola at Las Vegas’s Grand Canal Shoppes?
The beautiful, 500,000 square foot Venetian-inspired shopping center features an intricate canal system to link visitors between shops such as Burberry and Louis Vuitton. There’s even an escape room experience called PanIQ Room. And a sweet little chocolate factory with a name after our own hearts, Dandelion Chocolate.
After you’ve had your fill of shopping, retreat back to your room at The Venetian for a little R&R before taking in everything else that comes with visiting Sin City.
5. american dream, east rutherford, new jersey
After more than 17 years in the making, American Dream opened its doors for the first time in 2019. The second largest mall in the United States after The Mall of America, the New Jersey based mall is home to the Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park, an NHL-regulation-size ice rink, the Big Snow ski resort and an indoor Dreamworks Waterpark just to name a few of the larger than life entertainment options.
And yes, there’s plenty of shopping too. Just this fall, the mega mall opened its long awaited luxury wing dubbed “The Avenue” that’s home to Saks, Hermes, Dolce & Gabbana, Johnny Was and Mulberry, as well a fine-dining restaurant, Carpaccio.
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6. the galleria, houston, texas
One of Houston’s biggest tourist attractions, The Galleria attracts over 30 million visitors per year. With more than 400 stores, The Galleria is home to a who’s who list of designers, including Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci and Christian Louboutin, among many others.
In addition to retail stores, the mall contains 30 restaurants, two large hotels, an indoor ice rink made famous by Olympian Tara Lipinski and a jogging track for when it’s just too hot to exercise outdoors.
7. west edmonton mall, alberta, canada
If you’re interested in combining a love for water and shopping, West Edmonton is the mall for you.
Not only is it the largest shopping mall in North America, with more than 800 stores. It also houses the world’s largest indoor water park, complete with the world’s biggest wave pool.
And if you’re looking for a little taste of global culture, you can visit the different theme areas throughout including Bourbon Street, Chinatown and “Europa Boulevard.”
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8. galleria vittorio emanuele II, milan, italy
While it may not be as expansive as some of the other malls on our list, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is one of the oldest shopping malls in the world.
Built in 1877, the shopping center is a true testament to Italy’s esteemed fashion and design culture. You’ll find Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton among many others. Just as breathtaking as the beautiful goods inside is the state-of-the-art Italian architecture that houses the luxury shops.
The building is formed by two intersecting arcades shaped like a Latin cross covered by a glass and iron dome. Under the central dome is a mosaic with the Savoy coat of arms and various animals that represent some of Italy’s most important cities.
According to a legend, visitors and locals will have good luck if they step with their right foot on the bull and turn 360° with their eyes closed. And, if you step on the bull on December 31st at midnight, you will be lucky for a whole year.
9. harrods, london, england
Is it possible to talk about shopping without talking about Harrods? While not a typical mall like others on our roundup, the breathtaking architectural masterpiece that sits in the center of London is so vast and varied that we think it qualifies as a luxury “mall” experience.
It definitely counts as destination retail, drawing visitors from around the globe who just want to say they’ve been there, even if they don’t purchase anything.
With everything from men’s and women’s fashions to restaurants and food hall to a spa and wellness clinic, this London classic is the largest department store in Europe – so large in fact, that it actually has its own postal code.
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10. dubai mall, dubai, uae
The Dubai Mall is the world’s largest and most visited shopping mall, with 54 million annual visitors at its more than 1,200 stores and over 100 restaurants.
In addition to the jaw-dropping number of shops, the mall also has a number of notable and record-breaking attractions. Among them are a luxury hotel, children’s entertainment center, a Reels movie theater with 26 screens, and an ice skating rink.
A fan favorite is the Dubai Aquarium and Discovery Centre, one of the world’s largest aquariums, which includes a walk-through tunnel where you can take an Underwater Yoga class.
11. mall of the emirates, dubai, uae
If you thought Dubai might not have room for another large luxurious shopping mall, think again. The Mall of the Emirates may not be as big as the Dubai Mall, but it’s pretty close. Known as the world’s first “shopping resort,” it has 2.4 million square feet of retail space.
Visitors to the Middle Eastern country probably weren’t planning a ski vacation (after all, the temperature can be as high as 113 degrees in the summer). But of course, anything is possible in Dubai. So if your family or friend group is split between Team Sand and Team Snow, this could be the perfect place. No need to choose!
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12. siam paragon, bangkok, thailand
With an opera hall, a luxury hotel, a bowling alley, an art gallery and the Sea Life Aquarium, in addition to a wide array of restaurants and stores, Siam Paragon is one of the largest and busiest malls in Asia.
The gigantic multi-floor mall that is home to hundreds of luxury brand retail shops, car dealers and a massive food court. At the indoor gourmet market, you can buy virtually any type of food, from fresh imported seafood to gelato to fine wines from around the globe.
The upstairs cinema includes an IMAX theater with 14 screens and stays open well past the mall closing hours.
the top destination luxury shopping malls in the world
That’s it, our top 12 over the top, destination malls around the world. Malls that are actually worth traveling for! What do you think? And will we see each other in Milan at midnight come December 31st? Happy shopping!
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For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier newsletter here. And see luxury in a new light.
Jillian Tangen is the Head of Research at Dandelion Chandelier and a former Senior Research Analyst at McKinsey & Co and Analyst at Shearman & Sterling. She is an avid fan of Nordic design, having owned an independent lifestyle store and sales agency focused on emerging Scandinavian design. Jillian lives in New York and is married with three young children. She loves cross-country skiing, the New York Rangers, reading, travel and discovering new brands.