Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Bicester Village Review

I love shopping, I just love it. Online, in store, you name it if it has shopping I am there. So one of my favourite places to shop is Bicester Village. If you have not heard of it, it is a discount shopping village in Oxford. It is one those places you love or hate. You love it because you get designer pieces on the cheap or you can hate it because the armies of people who cannot walk straight that are front of you and push you are driving you crazy.

The favourite question when it comes to Bicester Village is how cheap is it? Well let’s put it into perspective. The brands there are Mulberry, Prada, Dior at the high end and All Saints, Karen Millen, Reiss, Ted Baker at the more reasonable end. If you think you will go to Bicester Village and buy a Mulberry for £100, you are sadly mistaken. Trust me, I wish that was the case. Think about it a Mulberry at full price can go from £895 for the popular Bayswater. You may not get this season’s colour but you can a Bayswater for maybe £500-700. So it is cheaper than full price but it not going to be cheap like a high street bag. Although the more expensive options like Bayswater double zip tote in bright red was £5,000 but now £2,500. That is a huge amount off but it still a huge amount to be paid. If you are looking for good deals that make less of dent in the bank balance, you have the shops like LK Bennett, All Saints, Jaeger, Hugo Boss and Ted Baker. Whenever I go, they are my must stops and always walk out with a bag of goodies. There is always something I like and at a decent price. To give you an idea, I bought a Ted Baker top for £49, a necklace from All Saints for £45 (RRP £90), Jaeger dress for £99 (RRP £250) to name a few. Hugo Boss was surprisingly well-priced. I thought it would out of my price and bought a beautiful dress for £99. Result! Here are some pictures of my prizes.

I like to go every 3-4 months. I have become quite addicted to my little excursions to Bicester Village and get itchy feet like I have now. I am literally gagging for a trip very soon. So here are some facts:

Q.     How do I get to Bicester Village?
A.      Overground train from London Marylebone. Takes about 50-60 mins then a bus shuttle from station to Bicester Village. Parking can be difficult so not recommended unless you really want to drive around for 15 - 30 minutes looking for a space. There are also coach services from London which are cheap.

Q. When is the best time to go?
A. Absolutely as early as you can get there. It makes all the difference between a trip ruined by queues and people pushing to a lovely experience where you can actually walk and browse around. From about 12:00 it starts to get a bit chaotic.

A few tips for you, the Ralph Lauren have got to be the busiest stores in the village. They are insane with constant queues so go as early as you can for Ralph Lauren. Have your hitlist ready of stores you want to visit and have your purpose.

But also don't have a specific item in mind. They get what is sent to them and have no idea what pieces they will receive. If you have your heart set on something, try calling the store and get them to hold it for you or even better send it to your home. Have a happy medium like ' I am looking for dress for work'.

If you are going to spend a lot of money, it is worth noting there is VIP discount which gives you an extra 10% off. The catch is it is very difficult to get. I have tried the 'don't you know I am' card and failed miserably. One way to get it is stay a nearby hotel and they will give one to you. A hotel can cost £100 hence why I say if you are going to spend a lot of money. If you want that Mulberry bag or Valentino dress, you might as well get some discount. Just make sure you get more than the cost of hotel as the discount so it is worthwhile.

Now for the foodies out there, there are some restaurants to choose from. There was a Busaba Eathai but it closed which left me devastated. Their food was divine. I could eat their calamari all day long! But alas they left the village. They have Villandry, Carluccio’s, Pret, Starbucks and Pan Chai Petite to name some. When I next go up I want to try Pan Chai Petite.

They have a personal stylist on site if you want something special, shopping delivery and collection service. You can also earn airmiles for your shopping. The amount of airmiles depends on which airline you are with, however, as an example, you earn 5 avios for every £4 spent. So discounted shopping and airmiles towards a long-haul flight? Yes please!

One word of warning,  don’t be fooled by the ‘Kurt Geiger Boutique’. It does not actually have any Kurt Geiger shoes which really annoyed me. Why is there Kurt Geiger on your shop front if you don’t stock Kurt Geiger shoes. They have Christian Louboutin (OMG!), Charlotte Olympia, Saint Laurent Paris, Salvatore Ferragamo, Giuseppe Zanotti, Lanvin and Stuart Weitzman. Remember when I said discounted but not cheap? So yes amazing shoes just misleading.

Word to wise, never ever ever go to Bicester Village on Black Friday. Never! If you do, you were warned.

So just watch out for the people who are blind and can’t walk straight, go with an open mind but with a purpose and go early and you will love it. Now time to find a date for my next trip.


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