If you’re not local to the Thames Valley then you probably won’t know (or even care!) that Oxford has got a new shopping centre that opened at the end of October. So when better to visit it than as the festive season approaches and you need to do your Christmas shopping!
Having never been to Oxford before I have no idea what their previous shopping centre/town centre was like. By all accounts it sounds like it might have been pretty rubbish considering it’s a fairly large city. The new shopping centre, called Westgate, was welcomed by locals according to the local news.
My mum and I have a bit of a tradition that we try and visit a new place every year to do our Christmas shopping. Last year we went to Cardiff (which was fab btw!) and in previous years we’ve been to Portsmouth, Southampton and Reading to name a few. So Oxford seemed like an excellent choice, what with it being less than an hour away from where I live and really easy to get to for us.
From leaving our house to arriving at the shopping centre it took us an hour and that included parking (and figuring out how to pay for it!) and getting the park and ride bus. The P&R was actually brilliant, only 10 mins into the centre and it drops you right outside the shopping centre. And it’s easy to find the bus stop to get back to the P&R which is always useful!
So, Westgate, what’s it like?
Well first thing is that it’s not totally open yet. Which we knew when we went so it wasn’t a surprise. It’s only been open a few weeks and as is always the case with a new shopping centre, it’s opened with not all of the actual units filled or ready to open. It’s a nice centre, easy to get around and is undercover but not inside.
It’s definitely a centre to visit if you’re looking for more high-end brands rather than you’re ‘regular’ high street shops. It has got a very big Primark mind you and there are some shops that you find on most high streets such as Next, The Body Shop, Oasis and H&M. But mostly it’s aimed at the higher end of the market – the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, Molton Brown, Ted Baker and so on.
There are also some fab restaurants on the top floor, a couple of which have got roof terraces, which in the summer will be amazing to sit out on! Especially as they look like they’ve got amazing views over the city, although no doubt they will also get really packed. There aren’t many big chain restaurants that you’d easily recognise (although there is a Nando’s!) but I always think it’s nice to see some smaller chains or independent restaurants in places like that.
We also took a little walk out on to the high street to have a look around and we stumbled across The Covered Market. Oh. My. God. I LOVED this little place. It’s exactly what it says it is – a covered market (!) – with 50 or so independent shops/stalls selling all manner of things. There were a couple of butchers, but like proper traditional butchers, one of which had two very large wild boars (or something similar) and pheasants hanging outside. There was also a couple of bakers and florists as well as some other boutique stalls. But my favourite was this amazing cake shop where you could actually watch them making the cakes and making all the decorations that go on them. It was heaving so it’s clearly very popular. The cakes all looked amazing too, what a great skill to have!
We don’t have a market like that at all where I live, so I always find places like them so fascinating. It’s great to see all the little independent retailers making their own living and I just love little indoor markets and the atmosphere of them. I especially love them at Christmas time as they always just have that extra bit of festive charm!
So, did I get all my Christmas shopping done? Well, no. As much as I try to do it all in one day, because I don’t actually have many people to buy for, I never quite manage it! But the trip to Oxford was great and is definitely somewhere I’d like to visit again soon. Perhaps in the summer this time.
Hope all your Christmas shopping and festive planning is going well! Much festive love to you all 🙂