Tuesday 22 December 2015


With only a few more days to go until Christmas, I headed to Bicester Village early yesterday morning in search of some last minute gifts for family and friends. Living locally, I've learnt to time my visits to the designer retail village with military precision to avoid the crowds - always getting there before the official opening time and enjoying a calming peppermint tea at Soho House Farmshop before hitting the stores.

Chiltern Railways' recent opening of Bicester Village station has been a great boost for both the retail village and the area, as it has helped ease the congestion at Bicester North station, the original hub for the retail outlet shoppers arriving both from London and Birmingham. The new station brings visitors straight to the village from Marylebone in 46 minutes and I was invited to experience the service first hand at the recent opening of the station.

As a regular commuter from Bicester North to Marylebone, it was a real treat being pampered with a Champagne lunch onboard the train, instead of sandwiches from the refreshments trolley. It's a speedy service to the village and there's a relaxing lounge at Bicester Village station, that's more like a corner of a Ralph Lauren store, than a station waiting room, with evocative black and white prints on the walls, fresh flowers and coffee table books to flick through while waiting for the train to London.

Speaking at the opening of the new station, Desiree Bollier, Chief Executive of Value Retail Management (the company that owns Bicester Village) confirmed, 'This isn't your average station waiting room, but it's the entry point to Bicester Village. We felt it needed the same attention to detail that has fuelled our progress for the last 20 years and that lies at the heart of everything we do.'

The snow machine in full swing at the recent opening of
Chiltern Railways' Bicester Village station, bringing shoppers straight to the heart of the retail village
from Marylebone Station in London in under an hour

Bicester Village has been described as a Retail Disneyland and this Christmas is no exception. The whole village is decorated with a million sparkling lights and golden reindeer laden with gifts.  A team of bellboys, in jaunty red and black uniforms, are on hand to greet visitors and help with heavy shopping. Even sheltering weary shoppers with umbrellas when the heavens open. 

All in all it's a slick operation, designed to make the shopping experience as seamless as possible, with a hands-free shopping service, valet parking and a bag drop service, to name just a few of the add-ons provided for visitors.

Bicester Village has been described as a Retail Disneyland

The line-up of designer brands is equally impressive, with firm favourites like Prada, Burberry, Ralph Lauren and Dior attracting the crowds. Marni, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen and Chloe are also top of the list for visitors looking for contemporary designer labels at a fraction of the original retail price. While it's a given that the merchandise on sale isn't from this season, there are often current samples for sale, plus pieces that have been created specifically for the outlet stores.

Yesterday I made a beeline for Anya Hindmarch, Missoni Home at MissoniThe White Company and Kate Spade for gifts for the girls, and then to Paul Smith, Brooks Brothers, Superdry and Bose for the boys' presents. I also popped into Wolford and the recently opened Falke for hosiery and into Calvin Klein Underwear for some colourful bits and bobs for the kids' Christmas stockings. Last stop was Smythson for a beautiful new note book. In a little under two hours and I was back in my car heading out of the village, just as the car park was filling up, smiling to myself that my final Christmas shopping was sorted...

At the recent opening of Chiltern Railway's' Bicester Village station, guests in the VIP 
carriages from Marylebone were treated to a festive Champagne lunch

Desiree Bollier, Chief Executive of Value Retail Management,
greets guests at the recent opening of Bicester Village

No normal waiting room: a peaceful corner of the lounge at Bicester Village station, where
you can wait in comfort for your train to London

Champagne reception at the Bicester Village station opening

A festive touch at Chiltern Railways' new Bicester Village station

Shoppers are greeted by bellboys at Bicester Village

Soho House Farmshop in a welcome addition to Bicester Village and
specialises in rustic British food

Tea-time treats at Soho House Farmshop at Bicester Village; cold pressed
juices and organic carrot cake

Soho House Farmshop at Bicester Village is the perfect place to relax and refuel 

A signature quirky festive display at Anya Hindmarch's store at Bicester Village

The Balenciaga store at Bicester Village decked in cascading fairy lights

The Stella McCartney store's neon Christmas light display 

Save up to 70% on designer clothing and accessories at Bicester Village,
including at Marni

Golden reindeer laden with gifts are part of the magical display at 
Bicester Village this Christmas

Bicester Village: 50 Pingle Drive, Bicester, Oxfordshire OX26 6WD www.bicestervillage.com
Bicester Village opening hours: www.bicestervillage.com/en/your-visit/opening-hours
Chiltern Railways: www.chilternrailways.co.uk

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