What?: Pricy but beautiful Chelsea toy shop specialising in bespoke party bags – hence the Star Bags bit (although don’t ask why it’s also named after the revolting milk pudding you get with school dinners). Eye-wateringly expensive it might be but there’s nothing pretentious about Semmalina, where we were welcomed on arrival and then left alone to explore without being asked if we were looking for anything in particular, which I guess would have been helpful if we were but to be honest we were just there to be nosey.
The book selection is cool and modern – the sort of selection you might find stocked by illustrated kids’ book specialists Telling Tales or Smallprint; and the toy offer is dominated by high-quality wooden pieces such as dolls’ houses, tea sets and ride-ons. The plastic dolls are much nicer than most of the ones you’d find in a department store and there’s also a good selection of Jellycat plushies, plus more niche finds such as Madeline figurines and stuffed toys, super-covetable Myland figures and some beautiful handmade rag dolls.
The party offer is particularly brilliant and you’ll find a huge table brimming with Meri Meri garlands, paper hats, disposable crockery and party-bag fillers in one corner of the shop, as well as a shelf stuffed with intricate, often glittery, animal cake-toppers in the other. The Star Bags can be made to order or bought ready-made, and come packed with sweets and small gifts (there’s even a tiny sweet shop at the back of the store) and wrapped in shiny cellophane. And if you’re worried that you can’t afford luxury toys or custom-made party bags just go and have a look anyway – there’s plenty of inspiration to be found here.
Where?: 225 Ebury St, a six-minute walk from Sloane Square station.
Price Range: Even pocket-money-type bits are a bit on the steep side, and you could part with some serious cash frighteningly easily in here.
Best Bits: The staff completely left us alone and didn’t bat an eyelid when Babu wanted to try out all the toys.
Worst Bits: We couldn’t afford much in here, but then what do you expect from an indie kids’ toy shop in Chelsea?
Did We Buy?: No but I reeeeally wanted the Madeline plushy.
Would We Come Back?: Perhaps if we were buying for a special occasion.
Babu tries out the toys at Semmalina Star Bags, Chelsea.