The other day I was lucky enough to take an inside look at Bicester Village Luxury Outlet Shopping Centre situated in the south of England. It’s just been extended if you didn’t know already.
Now, I mentioned this to a couple of friends and received a surprising reaction. Disneylandish, pretentious, antiseptic, an altar to the cult of consumerism – were some of the really quite surprising adjectives used. Well I say absolute tosh to all that and here’s twenty reasons why.
1. Bicester Village is easy to find and conveniently located not too far from London.
2. Communications are excellent, Chiltern Railways operates a daily services from London Marylebone (up to 4 an hour), main hub airports such as London Heathrow and Birmingham International are less than an hour car journey away. Most importantly for me, (being a lazy soul) is that it was an easy drive from London – approximately an hour or so. If you’re really flash, you can even helicopter in using FreshAIr UK Ltd.
3. The toilet facilities were sparkling! Don’t laugh, but in a former life I used to be a surveyor and ended up inspecting alot of toilets – since then I’ve become a bit of a stickler for cleanliness, so full marks to Bicester Village on this….
4. If you’re someone who likes rubbing shoulders with celebrity shoppers, then Bicester Village is worth a visit. Check out the facebook celebrity spotting group.
5. The car parking facilities were spacious and pristine. Given that I was there on a Thursday and we’re in this credit crunchie thing, the car park was absolutely jammed – surprising to be honest. Are people still buying on thin air or what?
6. I could stand corrected on this – but I think Bicester Village has the biggest Pret a Manger in the UK. That’s a real plus point, as I could quite easily gorge myself on crayfish sandwiches and carrot cake! Maybe a tall decaf skinny latte or two as well, or is that Starbucks – I get confused….. If you prefer Starbucks, Bicester Village has this too.
7. The security is comprehensive and friendly. Menacing hoodies seem completely absent, which is nice…. There also seems to be a comprehensive CCTV network within the village, which I imagine comes in handy if you’ve lost your child.
8. The high end retail outlets at Bicester Village tend to offer last years end of line items, for some quite amazing discount prices. So, you can kit yourself out in the highest quality gear for rock bottom prices.
9. Anybody who has a young son or daughter will know about the extortionate prices charged for good fitting shoes. Therefore, it came as a really pleasant surprise to find children’s Clarke’s shoes at Bicester, selling for 2/3 of the price on the high street. This in itself is a good reason to visit Bicester for mums and dads.
10. If you like fashion, then you have all the elite labels in one place – rather than spread along a disparate street or streets as per Bond Street in London. Some labels to visit at Bicester Village – Alexander McQueen, Burberry, Dolce Gabbana, Matthew Williamson, Ozwald Boateng, Versace and Tommy Hilfiger amongst others.
11. If you can’t be bothered to wrap presents – Bicester Village offers a gift wrapping service. Perfect for a lazy chap like me. Bicester Village say:
“The Gift Wrap service is available to all customers; simply take your gifts to the `Gift Wrap & VIP Lounge` in unit 121 and our dedicated team will be happy to wrap. All we ask is for a small donation for our chosen charity Pratham.”
12. I have been searching for a good quality scarf for almost a year now. Low and behold I found the perfect scarf in Ted Baker – the right length (seen so many blokes look idiots with very short scarves – not a good look), not itchy, nice colours, reasonably priced etc. Hopefully, this will help fend off the man flu this year!
13. I had lunch in Carluccio’s which was delicious. However, the service took an absolute age………
14. There seemed to be a couple of play areas for children which is great. Not sure if there was a creche?
15. I bought some of the finest scented candles ever, from Penhaligon’s – should make nice gifts come Christmas. If you like candles, body lotions and hand washes, then Bicester Village also has L’Occitaine and Molton Brown (which both my wife and sister absolutely adore).
16. The open mall is well catered with stopping points and seating. It still surprises me how many shopping centres fail to adequately plan for this.
18. Bicester Village is perfectly located for taking advantage of the beautiful Blenheim Palace, or visiting Raymond Blanc’s Michelin starred restaurant Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and the award winning Malmaison.
19. Bicester has a personal stylist and personal shoppers to lend a hand should you need it.
20. Last but not least, Bicester has a resident handbag therapist. According to the Bicester web site:
“Simply upload a photo of your handbag or manbag and its contents, and Debbie our senior retail executive life coach will reveal what your bag says about you.
Register now and upload a photo for a chance to win a £1,000 shopping spree and you`ll automatically receive an extra 10% saving at Bicester Village, home to over 120 designer boutiques with prices reduced by up to 60%.”
Why not give it a go……
Overall, Bicester is well worth a visit and with a whole host of new retailers fully ensconced – the shopping proposition just got a bit more interesting…….
Disclosure: For this blog post we were able to gain access to a sample product or service.
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