Visiting Bicester Village, the shopping outlet near London, U.K.
"No photos please!", I shout at my cousin! Heck, I've just come out of Burberry's--seemed to me like an intense relationship that ended in half an hour after the distressing situation of my credit card! I look my horrible best--very little makeup, no lipstick, frowned brows and wondering if I can ever stay within my means! Bicester Village, here we are!
Hello friends, believe it or not, in the four weeks I have been in London, I was blessed to go to the Bicester Village Shopping Outlet three times--twice by car with my cousin sister and once alone in the train! In this blogpost on the Village, I have everything covered from my experience--how to get there, what to wear during your shopping day, where to eat and of course all the great brands you can shop from. I personally prefer shopping at outlets as they offer a great shopping experience--if you choose the time right, it can actually be very quiet and peaceful and you can get some really good deals!
- Getting to the Bicester Village:
It was my first Saturday in London (I arrived on Friday night, just the day before) when I casually mentioned my desire for a Burberry jacket to my cousin sister that set the course for the events of the day. In half an hour, like two excited children, we were on the road driving to Bicester Village-the designer shopping outlet near London! It took us about two hours to get there and then a few minutes before we finally found a parking spot. Parking is plenty and if you don't find a spot right in front of the village, there is an adjoining parking lot that connects to the Village.
Getting to the Bicester Village by train is actually quite convenient and easy. From the underground station near my cousin's house, I used my Oyster Card (the travel card for London) to take the Chiltern Railways to London Marylebone and arrived there in 10 minutes. At the Marylebone Station, I bought a return off peak day-ticket to Bicester Village for GBP24 from the ticket machine near the ticket office with my credit card. It's a good idea to try these machines once in a while especially when the queue is too long and you are counting moments to get to the Village! I found the ticket-machines intimidating at first, but soon discovered they were not all that complicated to use and actually worked and helped me save some precious time! The Marylebone station is very well connected to the Bicester Village with two trains per hour to the Village and journey time from 46 minutes. In order to be more organized, you might want to get a ticket online the day before you plan to go there. I used my extra time at the station to get a good soya cappuciono topped with chocolate powder and a delicious hot buttery almond croissant to go!
Once you arrive at the Village, you can either follow the general flow of the crowd (everybody is going there!) and lag behind or if you are a fast walker like me, you can follow the signs at the station to get to the Village and be the first one to arrive at your favorite store!
I haven't tried the shuttle service to the outlet but a friend told me that you get an additional 10% discount at a lot of brands at the Village with your bus ticket.
- VAT Refunds:
The best part about shopping at the Village is that you can get your tax refund right there at the outlet. The sad part is that the queue is usually very long and you are already exhausted enough so that you don't want to stand in the line even if it means getting back a couple of hundred pounds in cash!
- How to dress for your shopping day?
Dressing right for your shopping day is very important as you want to wear something that requires the minimum effort every time you want to try out a new outfit. I usually prefer to wear a pull-in/pull-out dress with flip flops that make it easy to change-in and change-out of outfits. It also helps economize on time. Makeup should be minimal as you don't want to leave make-up marks on the outfits you are trying...you care, right?:)
Here I am wearing my black Eileen Fisher jersey tank dress with Birkenstock slippers that you can't actually see in the picture. I always carry a cross-body bag when I am shopping so I can be hands free and focused on what I need/want to buy!
- What is the best time to visit the outlet?
The outlet is not so crowded during weekdays (I am talking about summer) but on weekends it's flooded with tourists and shoppers unless you decide to go between 10a.m. and 12 noon or after 5:30p.m.
From Burberry, Gucci, Prada, Tod's and Fendi to Polo Ralph Lauren, you will find almost all of the world's best luxury brands here.
Try to plan your visit at a time when there are summer or winter sales going on so you can really benefit from your visit there.
Cocinelle, Burberry, Gucci, Prada, Michael Kors, Chloe...almost all of the best brands had a section with special sale prices all the three times I visited there in July and August this year.
- My favorite brand-Karen Millen!
I love Karen Millen dresses and I will not tell you how much I shopped there but all I can say is that it was completely satisfying! A friend of mine very aptly described such a shopping trip as nirvana shopping!
- Pret A Manger: my favorite eating place at the Village!
I like eating at Pret because it is not expensive, the food is fresh, the energy is vibrant and I crush on their soya cappucios and pecan slices that can actually add layers to the body that are so difficult to get rid off later! I was the last customer of the day at Pret and this nice man at the counter offered me a free drink--I was so taken aback that I could only barely mutter, "a chamomile tea, please!" P.S. Isn't he cute?:)
- My best buy and you will laugh!
For years I have been searching for a good body lotion to keep my chlorine-soaked skin (I am a swimmer:)) nourished and healthy and I don't know why I never searched at L'Occitane before! Their Ultra Rich Body Lotion for Dry Skin with 15% Shea Butter is the answer to my dry-skin dilemma and I got it at outlet price!