Photo by babasteve
Unlike most major cities in United States, there seem to be a dearth of discount outlet stores in London. Other than the smaller discount outlets that is found dotted all around London (see Paul Smith discount outlet), the only major one that comes to mind is the Burberry discount outlet at Hackney Central (more on that later). But there's nothing like the ones that often boost more than fifty major brands found in the States. When it comes to shopping on the cheap, no one beats the Americans.
Enter Bicester Village
That said, if you are in London and have some time to spare, you can take a trip out of London to the designer discount outlet at Bicester in Oxfordshire. This 'village' has over 130 stores that include the likes of Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Dior, Prada, Bally, Acquascutum, Armani, Superdry, Thomas Pink, the list just go on and on.
Unlike the ones at States, the mandatory huge car park (free parking) is on one end of the village and the shops are lined along both sides of a pedestrian path, thus the village feel. For those who would like to catch a breather before carrying on to spur the economy, there are cafes and eateries at both ends of the village, even Jamie Oliver has joined the fray with his Fabulous Feast.
Opening hours are from 10am - 8pm everyday (except on Sundays, till 7pm) so you can shop to your heart's content.
Photo by Lloyd-Davis
How to get to Bicester Villlage
There are two main ways to get there from London: by train or a luxury coach.
Getting there by coach
The full size coach (£23 per adult return) picks you up at Marble Arch and Victoria. Tickets have to be bought 24hrs in advance online here. Alternatively, if you would prefer to be picked up directly from your hotel (check out available pick up points here), you would have to get the tickets directly from Golden Tour's office at Golden Tours Office, 156 Cromwell Rd, Kensington, SW7 or 4 Fountain Square, 123 - 151 Buckingham Palace Road, SW1.
The entire roundabout (you know how it works with coaches) will take you just under 2hrs to get to Bicester Village. Frankly, I wouldn't recommend that.
Getting there by train
What's better to start off your shopping spree with a ride on the great British railway? Bicester Village is served by the Bicester North Station, which is just under a 45min train ride (frequency of around 15min) from London's Marylebone Station (linked to Marylebone Tube Station on the Bakerloo line), followed by a 10min shuttle bus service (regular intervals).
Tickets can be obtained directly from Marylebone train station. Tell the ticket counter that you are heading to Bicester Village and the shuttle bus ticket would be included. It should cost around £30 for a return trip. Alternatively, you can get the tickets online at MyTrainTicket (from £25 return - search from London to Bicester North) and pay for the shuttle only when you get to Bicester North Station at £2.20 each way.
You don't really need a number of outlet malls, just one good one will do. I'm sure you'd find what you're looking for at Bicester Village. With the cheap flights to London, why not? Enjoy the shopping!
Have you been to Bicester Village? How did you find it?
Friday, December 2, 2011
How to get to Bicester Village outlet - it's closer to London than you think