For the perfect day trip spent shopping in style, follow our complete guide to Bicester Village
How often do you drool at all the A-Listers in magazines, longingly looking at their outfits and how effortlessly stylish they appear only to glance at the prices of their garments and shrivel into a corner, wondering if it’s worth remortgaging your house to attempt to compete? Ok, maybe not often, but it’s certainly a great feeling when you nab a designer item at a bargain price, which makes you look great—and therefore feel great—and it’s all the more worth it if you haven’t broken the bank trying to get the look.
Well, a secret, which even those A-listers keep is that taking a day trip out of all the major cities and heading to designer outlets—where the clothes are a fraction of the price of the main stores—is a far more relaxed environment to shop in.
One of these particular destinations is Bicester Village, Oxfordshire.
Bicester Village is a purpose-built outlet village, which oozes luxury, not just by means of the designer shops it boasts; including names such as Gucci, Prada, Burberry, Stella McCartney, and Vivien Westwood, to name but a few, but the whole experience is second to none.
There is ample free parking, including Valet Parking which can be booked online. There are trains from London which take 60 minutes, Birmingham (although keep in mind it arrives at Bicester North, which is a short distance away) and only takes 14 minutes from central Oxford. There is also the “Shopping Express”, a very snazzy coach service that runs directly from central London to Bicester Village and collects guests from a number of the high-end hotels in London.
Bicester Village is part of a chain of outlet villages that are scattered throughout Europe and China and is an open-air setting, rather than a mall experience, which adds to the charm. There is very high security, possibly the most friendly security staff you’ll ever meet, but aside from that, the hospitality makes each and every visitor to the Village feel as though they are an A-Lister with their legion of Bellboys (and girls), who are all dressed pristinely in the smartest red uniform and hat, greeting everyone and handing out maps, offering directions and help to anyone and everyone, with the biggest smiles on their faces.
Photo by Salmah
One of the things that even the smartest streets of London seems to get a bad rap for is how filthy they are, one thing Bicester Village could never be accused of. The whole village is so spotless that you could almost eat your food off it… But we don’t recommend doing that since you’ll be utterly spoilt for choice for food anyway.
There are a host of beautiful and stylish places to eat, including a stylish French restaurant and café called Le Pain Quotidien, which has an interior to make you feel as though you have actually passed out and woken up abroad, with it’s high, airy vaulted ceiling and greenery tastefully added to corners and numerous hand-painted plates displayed up all over the walls.
There is an Itsu and a Shan Shui for the Sushi lovers and a Pret a Manger for those in need of a quick sandwich before you get back to your shopping.
There are also even faster food options, by means of pop-ups and kiosks, dotted in and amongst the designer shops; including a creperie that offers the most delicious crepes—filled with either sweet or savoury, and ice cream options, which is a welcome distraction if you happen to be visiting with little people who are complaining about being dragged around the shops—or of course ‘Pops’, which services frozen Pimms and Bellinis as the perfect little interjection to your day, if you feel you need even further spoiling.
To compliment the luxury feel of your experience there is a Café Wolsely, which, not only has a very similar menu to, but also has the same art deco glamour and feel as it’s flagship The Wolselely in London’s Piccadilly.
Photo by Salmah
Oh, but the feeding of your face, doesn’t stop there, there is also the most charming restaurant called The Farm Shop, which has been created especially for Bicester Village by the Soho House & Co. group, which serves locally sourced British and seasonal food and has a relaxed farm-house feel.
Obviously, the food is not the main attraction… let’s get back to the shopping. Men, women and even children are spoilt for choice with the array of designer shops at Bicester Village and in all seriousness, you really can get the bargains of the century.
So, without going through every single shop listing, following is an alphabetical listing of a few that should peak any fashionistas interest, whether shopping for themselves or their loved ones…
The list is very extensive, ranging from Agent Provocateur (who just wants to only look good on the outside… ). There are a few risqué pieces, but their underwear is generally exquisite and beautiful and will spice up your life, whether it’s simply looking at your own reflection, in their beautifully cut and designed lingerie or for someone else’s eyes. They also have the most divine perfume, which is obviously at a far more reasonable price than their main stores.
AllSaints and Anya Hindmarch can both be found at Bicester Village. AllSaints offers a far funkier and trendier wardrobe choice, for both men and women, whereas Anya Hindmarch offers luxury and very stylish bags, purses, wallets and accessories.
Burberry is one of the biggest stores in the Bicester Village and is obviously world renowned as a stylish and iconic British designer, for both men and women. It would take the strongest of wills to leave Bicester Village without purchasing something from this stunning store, with everything you would expect and the customer service is also of the very highest standard.
Barbour and Brooks Brothers are both wonderful to visit, nabbing those staples at a fraction of the price.
Balenciaga is of course another well renowned designer, that has offerings for everyone, but with prices that will make many people wince… definitely worth travelling to Bicester Village for.
Photo by Salmah
There are so many well-known names under C—from those that are so well known that they need no narrative to accompany them—Calvin Klein Underwear, Calvin Klein Jeans and even Calvin Klein Watch & Jewellery, to Cath Kidston, who is so popular that there are often queues to get in.
Chloe and Church’s and Coach are also ones not to be missed, with their classic designs, but there is also a Clarks Shoe Shop, which still has the staff on call to measure and fit you, as in the standard to shops, and so perfect for the mad dash for children’s school shoes as well.
DIESEL ad DKNY can also be found for the more relaxed style for that effortless smart but casual look are both providers for perfect wardrobe staples.
DIOR, Dolce & Gabbana and Dion Furstenberg can also be found, but just when you thought your outfit isn’t complete without the perfect shades, there is also a David Clulow Sunglasses outlet to compliment your other purchases.
Photo by Salmah
Don’t let your home feel neglected by your trip to Bicester Village, you can find Emma Bridgewater here to deck out your home, or send to those friends abroad who are always hankering after something typically British.
Escada is a timeless classic that has one of the smaller stores here but seems to somehow still offer a wonderful cross-section of its designs.
Fendi, Fossil, and Furla are the only ‘F’s you will come across, but they are all high-end stores that don’t disappoint.
Photo by Salmah
You can find Gina and Givenchy at Bicester Village, but the highest profile and one of the most imposing stores you will find at the Outlet Village is Gucci.
There is often a que to get in to Gucci, not because there is no space, but because the staff do all they can to ensure you are not crowded and receive the best customer service and are able to browse at your leisure. A must visit store—if only to see how, even at the reduced outlet price you still may need to remortgage or sell a non-vital body part for their top of the range items. It is filled with their iconic and stunning items.
Hackett, Hunter and HUGO have all been long established here, but more recently the stunning Holland and Cooper has also joined the list of must visit stores, which is a more recent boutique that looks to be joining the list of iconic British Designer brands—although disappointingly doesn’t stock the much sought after Jodhpur Jeans which all the ladies seem to be desperate to get their hands on.
Go ahead and take ane ice-cream break as there’s no clothing store for this letter.
Jack Wills is a young and preppy brand that has a large choice and again is perfect for the casual staples for both men and women.
Jo Loves, which is the new store that Jo Malone started, once she sold her company and made a fortune is small, but perfectly formed, with all the signature scents that made her the household name she rightly is.
Jimmy Choo is also found here, for iconic ladies’ shoe design and Juicy Couture has a store on the smaller side, but again, doesn’t seem to lack in choice.
Photo by Salmah
The list for L is extensive, offering well known names, such as Levi’s, Lonchamps, L.K Bennet, Lacoste, but what may be surprising to some is that L also offers another chance to deck out your kitchen with a wonderful Le Creuset outlet.
You can also find a Links of London, which has such fantastic prices that it’s not just wonderful for gifts, but you will absolutely buy a little something for yourself. All of the charm bracelets and charms, which are perfect for relatives and godchildren, are stocked in this store. Often last seasons style, but still very well made and will not fall apart like many less expensive jewellery brands.
Monica Vinader stocks exquisite jewellery and Molton Brown, Michael Kors, Max Mara and Mulberry are also in the list of M’s.
One of the main pulls that seems to draw people from miles to this Outlet Village is Moncler, which focuses on the most stylish and warm down jackets for men, women and children.
N.Peal and New Balance.
Oscar de la Renta, Oliphant’s and Orlebar Brown.
Photo by Salmah
Paul Smith, Pandora and of course Prada are on the P list, but the most prominent and ‘must visit’ store on the list has to be Polo Ralph Lauren, which has dedicated stores for Men, Women and a separate one for children. The outlet prices of here are worth the journey, even if these are the only stores you go in to.
A special mention should be given to Penhaligon’s, which is off the main strip of shops, but worth seeking out, for the most divine perfumes, aftershaves and candles, that have even earned it Royal approval.
Qeelin is quite simply thge only ‘Q’ shop.
Radley, Rupert Sanderson and Rapha are all in the ‘R’ list, but the most notable is Reiss, as the huge surge for Reiss clothing after HRH Duchess of Cambridge donned these tailored clothes a few years ago.
There are so many on this list, from Savoy Taylors Guild and Smythson—which stocks the finest leather goods, to Stella McCartney, Superdry, Swarovski, but the most that stand-out shop here is Samsonite, which has fantastic outlet prices on all of it’s luggage, whether it’s a case for your laptop, or suitcases.
Ted Baker is always extremely popular and often very busy, as is The White Company, but the brands you might expect to see are also there of course—Tommy Hilfiger, True Religion, Tory Burch, Tom Dixon, Tissot, Timberland, TAG Heuer and Temperley London are also there.
UGG never goes out of fashion and has a wonderful variety. It’s joined by Ulysse Nardin and Under Armour for the list of U stores.
Villeroy and Boch, Vilebrequin don’t have quite the same pull is Valentino and Versace… but I think the Vivienne Westwood store has the biggest pull for the ‘V’ shops, with her quirky styles and unique designs.
Yves Salomon and YiFang Taiwan Fruit Tea.
Which boasts Zwilling J. A Henckels, but also the wonderful and edgy Zadig and Voltaire.
It is always worth checking to see if they are running any special events before you visit, to see what themes may inspire your trip.
Photo by Salmah
A recent event that they ran, earlier this year, was themed ‘All Things India’, where numerous up-and-coming designers joined forces to showcase their designs, jewelry, and talents. The exotic colors made the whole of Bicester Village extremely vibrant and they were raising awareness of the elephant crisis and supporting the work of the ‘Elephant Family’ – a charity working to protect the majestic Asian elephant. To highlight this cause they installed six life-size elephants, made from the lantana Camara – an invasive weed that is destroying their natural habitat.
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