HEMA UK opens first store today: My review

HEMA, the reasonably-priced ‘variety store’ from the Netherlands, has finally opened a store in the UK today, so I went along to see what was on offer. Thought you might be interested to find out what it was like.

HEMA UK review Penny Golightly 1

It’s kind of a mini department store, something like a cross between the IKEA marketplace and the best bits of the now defunct Woolworth’s.

The goods are not entirely at bargain basement or poundshop prices, but by and large they do represent pretty good value for money and the designs are modern and interesting. A quick browse around the smallish store in the upstairs mall of Victoria train station turned up a variety of stock, including:

  • Food and drink
  • Kitchenware
  • Baking sundries
  • Tableware
  • Craft materials
  • Stationery
  • Party goods
  • Tech accessories
  • Toys and games
  • Picnicware and BBQ goods
  • Toiletries
  • Cosmetics and fragrance
  • Fashion accessories
  • Underwear & hosiery
  • Travel accessories

The food and drink includes favourites such as liquorice, teas, coffees, biscuits, pralines and other sweets, and various condiments and sauces, as well as crisps, rye bread, and cheese bites. I’ve had the chance to try some of the biscuits, the paprika crisps, the salad mix with croutons and seeds, and a praline chocolate, and they were all very tasty indeed. The Moroccan mint tea’s nice too.

The kitchenware, bakeware, glassware and tableware made up a small collection, all nicely made and quite stylish. I especially liked the range of glass tea and coffee cups, and the ceramic cups with silicone bases, and the charcoal grey crockery. The brightly-coloured melamine bowls and plates were great.

A large section of the store was given over to partyware: streamers, bunting, candles, paper plates and bowls, napkins, cutlery, drinks umbrellas, ribbons, cards and wrapping paper. There’s a big selection and a huge range of styles. There’s also an attractive range of stationery with something to suit most tastes.

In its home country, HEMA is famous for kitting out the underwear drawers of a huge proportion of the population. The limited range on offer here looked like streamlined basics, so no bras etc, but they’re quite well made and I’ll be road testing some of that soon.

There’s a range of pleasant fragrances, but at £18.00 for a bottle they’re relatively pricey. There’s also assorted basic skincare such as cleansing wipes, shampoo, deodorant etc that cost about the same as drugstore own-brand products and it seemed okay but nothing out of the ordinary. There’s also some quite cheap anti-ageing skincare stuff, but the day cream only has SFP10 in it so that’s an inadequate level of sun protection and I put that particular product back on the shelf.

The makeup, tried and tested

The largest section of the store was devoted to makeup. This was quite a mixed bag. For example, I found that all the eyeshadows had chunks of glitter in them, which can be unflattering and feels gritty, with prices around the £2.50 to £4.25 mark for duo and single shadows. For £4.00 you can get a whole designer-style palette of shadows from companies such as MUA and Makeup Revolution, so this is an area where HEMA needs to up its game. Some ingredients lists would also not go amiss in this section of the store.

As for the other makeup, their liquid eyeliner and eyeliner pens looked OK, the satin blushers seemed pretty good, and some of their lip glosses looked nice. The colours were designed to flatter a range of different skin tones, some warm, some cool and some neutral. I didn’t get on with their Moisturising Lipstick (£3.50), which doesn’t feel moisturising on me and also has unwelcome chunks of glitter in it. I did really like the Diamond Shine lipstick (£4.75) though – it isn’t that shiny but I found it semi-sheer, well pigmented and in a range of flattering colours, very comfortable to wear etc, and it didn’t have that distinctive cheap lipsticky flavour you often find in cheaper cosmetics. I didn’t find fragrance in any of the makeup that I tried – which is ideal if you’re looking to avoid irritations.

The store didn’t have the full range of foundations yet, but I’m trying out their BB cream (£4.75 for 25ml, SPF15) and their Cover Up foundation (£5.50 for 30ml, a super-matte product). So far, so good and I’ll let you know in due course. There are some nice brushes, tools and accessories that are worth a look too. I also liked their Long Lasting Nail Polish (£2.50) which has an excellent colour palette – loads of lovely fashion colours – and performs very well considering how cheap it is.

One of the sweetest things about the trip to HEMA today was seeing all the ex-pats from the Netherlands in the store, looking for their favourite foods from back home, smiling as they found what they were looking for.

HEMA UK store review Penny Golightly 2

HEMA Victoria Station store details

Victoria Place Shopping Centre, 115 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 9SJ.

Open 8am to 8pm, Monday to Sunday

  • Two larger HEMA stores with a bigger range of stock will be opening soon in Bromley and Kingston, and further expansion is thought to be planned within the UK in the coming months.
  • If you don’t live near a HEMA store, their UK online shop is now up and running. It’s crammed with bargains, and having used it a couple of times I’m happy to report that the prices are low, and delivery is quick and efficient.

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  1. Oh that’s good news. I have friends in holland and they always take me to HEMA when I visit. Hope it takes off and goes nationwide.

  2. Always stock up with mascara (all colours) in HEMA Bruxelles, (never makes my eyes water), eye shadow good, also night cream! Some day cream does not have spf but I use it as night ream when I run out of night cream, working on the principal that something is better than nothing!!!!

  3. Fantastic, I am moving to the UK, and will be able to continue using the day, night and neck cream for 60+ , that I have been using ever since it existed. Also love the biscuits, please do have the Sinterklaas things and the lovely Easter Eggs. I have been shopping there for my funnyx socks etc, since 50 years, first in the Netherlands and then in Uccle, Brussels. Always cheers me up to go there. Will they have a restaurant? Lovely cheap and cheerful! Paulina, Uccle. Belgium.

  4. Thanks for the tips, everyone. Will have to look out for more biscuits and the mascaras next visit.

  5. Hoe bestaad het!

    But do they sell Indonesian spices sich as Bahmi and Nasi Goreng? And Kroepoek and Ketchap Manis? And Gember Koek? And suiker brood? And Taaitaai and kruid nootjes voor Sint Nicolaas?

    Boom boom.

  6. It sounds a great shop cannot wait to visit one next trip to London .

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