I was recently given the opportunity to visit the newly launched section at Bicester Village. The luxury shopping complex has been extended with 30 new boutiques to its already impressive stable of world-class brands to bring it to more than 160, all offering exceptional value. I’m a regular visitor to Bicester Village, especially living in London and having friends that live in Cheltenham and Coventry. This place is our equidistant meeting spot, which admittedly ends up being an expensive place to regularly meet. However, whenever I have visited in the past with my family as a day trip I have often had the qualm that it isn’t big enough to fill a full day. So, when I heard the news about the extension launch, it was truly music to my ears.
Being a guest of Bicester Village meant I was given the benefits of their VIP Card for the day. This gave me an extra 10% off, Valet Parking and the ability to take advantage of their Hands-Free Shopping. This basically means that when you buy something in a store you can leave it behind the till and they'll arrange for it to be transferred to Guest Services for you. This is handy because this is directly next to Valet Parking, meaning they bring your car and all your shopping to one place when it’s time to leave.
Bicester Village never stands still. It is an ever-evolving destination; setting new standards with an incomparable brand mix presented against a backdrop of exceptional hospitality. Guests can discover a myriad of different brands including luxury womenswear, menswear, lifestyle and sportswear. Among the exciting new additions are boutiques from Acne, Joseph, Under Armour, Bamford, Villeroy & Boch, Orlebar Brown, Dsquared2 and Zadig & Voltaire. Not to mention the pop-up boutiques sweeping in this autumn, which will include guest appearances from beauty brand Charlotte Tilbury, and shoes from Charlotte Olympia.
The new section at Bicester Village is rather exciting as there’s a whole bunch of my favourite brands there. Rapha are one of these brands, serving Allpress coffee from their instore coffee shop. Some might think that this brand is a little niche for the Village but more than two million people across the country now cycle at least once a week, an all-time high according to British Cycling and is probably the reason Rapha was recently bought for £200m.
Another great brand I was happy to see was the Cambridge Satchel Company, started by Julie Deane in her kitchen to fund sending her daughter to a private school after she found out she was being bullied. I love how classic their satchels are and more importantly, how they’ve kept manufacturing in England despite the company now selling to over 120 countries.
The North Face are also a favourite newcomer, and they’re certainly well respected. My wife’s family are from the rugged landscape of Donegal in Ireland, so I’ve developed a deep appreciate for technical performance garments, and you can’t go much better than this brand first set up by two hiking enthusiasts in 1966. Although off-season, it’s worth visiting the new Orlebar Brown shop for next year’s holiday season too. Worn by James Bond himself, these tailored swim shorts are probably the best around. They’re another great British brand, created by a photographer which after seeing all their designs, makes perfect sense.
Other top brands include Paul Smith which needs no introductions, but we will highlight their really cool staircase, and the ever-popular Polo Ralph Lauren store has move to the very end of the new section snapping up a bigger building. And no visit to Bicester Village is complete without having brunch at Farmshop which is at the opposite end of the new development, but closer to the train platform (only 46 mins from London Marylebone), so head straight there when you arrive and make sure you book because the queues get big, very fast.