GUN WHARF QUAYS
**** WHAT IS IT?****
Built in 2002 in Portsmouth, Hampshire, this is primarily an outlet centre. Before it was built, the site has had a varied historical background going as far back as 1526.
The Gun wharf site has been reclaimed from the sea as time has passed in what used to be just a grassland then HM Gun Wharf claimed the land as a first main ordnance yard for the Royal Navy. It was closed in 1995.
Gun wharf Quays is now owned and managed by Land Securities, the largest commercial property company in the UK with a variety of reduced priced shops and many restaurants. However times have changed so I beg to differ now.
Not just for the retail side of it, there is quite an impressive marina. As soon as you exit the main car park and just 200m from the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour, situated on the East side of the Harbour, is Gun wharf Quays Marina. The land mark Spinnaker Tower is right in the heart of the complex, so follow the building, you can't miss it from whichever entrance you come from.
With the backdrop of Portsmouth's Historic Naval Dockyard, this specially designed marina can accommodate power and sail craft up to 79 metres. Worth a look as you stroll along the quayside as the boats fight for the best mooring position.
I have come to Gun Wharf for the past 10 years and since then I have seen a decline in what I really enjoyed going to, but before I put you off please read on and decide if this is for you.
**** WHERE IS IT ****
Gun wharf Quays House
023 9283 6700
**** GETTING THERE ****
Gun wharf Quays has excellent public transport links, as well as over 1532 spaces underground. This car park that gives direct access to the site and any available slots are marked as green and is well sign posted. If you are using a Sat Nav to come to Gun wharf Quays, use postcode PO1 3TZ and there is a height restriction on entry for larger vehicles of 2.2m and over.
Make sure you stay in the right hand lane as there are two car parks adjacent to each other, the lower ground on the left is nothing to do with Gun Wharf and takes you into the neighbouring shopping complex, though you can still cut through but its longer.
Be warned though its busy and slots are tight, not the easiest of car parks unless you own a small family car. I have found its easier to reverse park at all times and ignore the cars behind you, just take your time and coast into the slot available. Quite confusing and very busy, each bay has a letter and number and colour coded, as there are so many I recommend you take a snap shot on your phone to allocate your vehicle.
However its spotless inside, security is good and there is now a car valet facility as you drive in, with prices starting from £9 upwards for a wash and vac. I never used this so cannot comment.
Not the cheapest of car parks but they do have a good guest service facility with mobility scooters on hand and there are disabled bays, though limited.
Take a ticket on entry and when you leave, pay at the allocated machines scattered around each exit. You can pay by credit card or cash and have 10 minutes to get out from purchasing your ticket.
Car Park Tariff to date
Up to 2 hours, £2.90
2 – 3 hours, £3.90
3 – 4 hours, £5.90
4 – 5 hours, £6.90
5 – 7 hours, £8.00
7 – 9 hours, £10.00
9 – 10 hours, £12.00
10 – 24 hours, £20.00
Portsmouth Harbour train station, The Hard Bus Interchange, the Gosport Ferry and Wight link foot-passenger terminal are only 5 minutes walk from Gun wharf Quays. A short drive takes you to the Isle of Wight Car Ferry terminal, and Gun wharf Quays is only 10 minutes drive away from the cross-channel ferry terminal.
Exit the M27 at Junction 12, then join the M275 motorway which brings you directly in to Portsmouth, and then follow the brown signs for the Historic Waterfront leading you straight to Gun wharf Quays.
There are five areas of cycle racks around the site where you can lock up your bike while you are there but cycling inside the quays is not permitted due to the pedestrians.
If you want to experience an alternative way into the complex then hop on Hover travel for a very speedy trip from either Ryde or South sea pick up points. Just 10 minutes across the Solent followed by a short bus ride will get you to Gun wharf Quays. The hovercraft is the quickest way to travel from the Isle of Wight with crossings every 30 minutes right up to 10 pm at night and the South sea terminal is situated right across from the main car park.
**** Opening times ****
Gun wharf Quays is open as normal on Bank Holidays. Closed Xmas day.
Monday10:00am - 8:00pm
Tuesday10:00am - 8:00pm
Wednesday10:00am - 8:00pm
Thursday10:00am - 8:00pm
Friday10:00am - 8:00pm
Saturday9:00am - 8:00pm
Sunday10:00am - 5:00pm
**** FACILITIES ***
There are toilets scattered around the centre all at different points, easily sign posted, just look for the purple doors. Immaculate inside with free hand cream, Molten Brown no less and state of the art hand driers that blow your skin apart from your bones.
Full disabled faculties and baby changing too.
There are ramps and lifts for easy access to all points. However in the winter the decking becomes slippery so take care on foot and its much colder as the shops are on the Solent .
****SHOPPING SELECTION ****
All under one roof you will find allegedly 90 premium retail outlet stores offering famous brand names at "discount" prices. Originally I would have agreed when the place was at its height in popularity but after my recent visit all the stores I remember for bargains have now gone. Sports Direct is now a restaurant and Next is now an extended Ralph Lauren.
Brand names like Tommy Hilfiger, Polo, Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss, Karen Millen, Hobbs and Jaeger are still here as is Adidas, Nike, Bench, Superdry, Boots, Cath Kidson, Bose (one of the original shops still hanging on), Fossil, Gap, Ted Baker, M & S and HMV to name but a few.
***** MY OPINION****
Super Dry is no cheaper than the normal stores as are most of them now.
I couldn't find Clarks so I presume that's gone too, sadly as Clarks was always a guaranteed shop to get some great deals on school shoes and ladies boots.
Cadbury is a small shop and chaotic inside, they sell a few items cheaper but seem to sell more bulk by packets than individual items. So if you want a large amount of curly wurlies then it's worth a visit,
Situated close is the M and S store. A few items cheaper but I noticed the store had less stock than normal. Everything is more spaced out and more tills situated at the rear of the shop. The slipper selection was pretty dire and the children's display pretty pathetic. I saw a pair of black ladies ankle boots for £29 instead of £59 but after searching the shelves all they had was a large selection of size 7 and 8's only so I was out of luck.
Fossil had a small area of reduced stock , mainly purses that obviously they couldn't shift as the style was a bit dated. The bags are slightly less mark up price as are some of the watches. One handy point is that they do watch strap and battery replacements here which my other half was pleased about as many high street stores don't like to deal with Fossil repairs. Within 30 minutes he had a new battery but watch straps have to be sent away to do.
Boots is the same as the high street prices but its handy having a chemist on site for some visitors I guess, one of the original shops and stocks sandwiches too for a cheap snack.
Ralph Lauren is an impressive shop, immaculate displays, smart staff and huge price tags to match. A part suede and denim baseball jacket caught my eye and when I saw the price I quickly changed my mind. Originally £699 and now down to £299, still out of my budget for what is only a casual jacket. Jumpers and men's shirts were selling for £80 upwards. One polo shirt was £40.
HMV no different to the high street as is Bose. Body Shop gift sets were on display at £35, just three items included.
Timberland are slightly less than the high street and Uggs, but not all of the stock have reduced price tags.
Adidas trainers are priced lower but the clothes on offer looked dated. If you can find what you're looking for trainer wise then good luck as the displays are all over the place and the shop at the back looks a mess. It's more of a free for all and staff don't seem too keen to help so we walked out emptied handed.
Once upon a time I would have left the quays with arm full's of bags and some occasions returning back to the car and shopping a second time. This last visit I walked out with nothing other than the car park ticket. Personally I was disappointed at how much the shops were charging and they still call it an outlet village.
Will I go again? Well as its local to me and I love the marina side of it and ferry watching, then yes. However if I had to travel some distance then no way. It's not the same anymore and I left feeling very disappointed with the whole layout.
I noticed another new shop, Tesco Express . This years ago would have been entirely out of place in such an upmarket establishment (sorry don't want to sound snobbish) . It is meant to be a unique setting, a place to find high street goods at reduced prices not buy a loaf of bread and washing powder.
*** RESTAURANTS AND NIGHTLIFE***
When it’s time to give up looking for a bargain, you’ll find a good selection of bars, coffee shops and restaurants.
Brassiere Blanc, fresh seafood at Loch Fyne and a host of fine Italian dishes to choose from at Carluccio’s. Ask, Pizza Express and Slug and Lettuce all have prime spots on the decking and overlook the Solent. On a good day i recommend sitting outside just for the views and people watch.
Upstairs is a great Chinese restaurant and it's a buffet. Called The Water Margin I suggest you get there early as they sell out food quick and towards the end of the day stop replenishing stocks and food is not so tasty.
Jamie Oliver has a restaurant there but was unable to get a seat so opted for Cafe Rouge, which is nothing special and won't return there again.
For fast food you will find Burger King located by the spinnaker tower, not the most cleanest place to go but for food in a hurry its bearable. Subway is its neighbour and out of the two I prefer this one.
But if you want even more from your visit to Gun wharf Quays then there’s a 14-screen cinema, VUE, a 26-lane bowling complex, 24-hour health and fitness club (next to a restaurant naturally) contemporary art gallery, nightclub, hotel and Grosvenor casino.
There was a Jongleurs comedy club back in the day but unsure if that's still there, couldn't find it so presume that's gone too.
*** FOR KIDS***
A new attraction is the Miniport. It's a family boat hire experience, and they can be found by Cafe Rouge and the Old Customs House Pub, right beside the marina.
The miniature ships look fun to drive for kiddies, electrically powered and look easy to control. The minimum time is 12 minutes, but Miniport will extend the voyage duration whenever they can on quiet days. There are a range of mini ships which will delight younger children, and the team are trained to ensure a relaxed and enjoyable time afloat. Adults can join in too as I saw a dad take the controls much to the dismay of his son who burst into floods of tears. It's only a small section of water and totally closed in from the harbour so no chance of drifting over to the Isle of Wight.
.*** TO CONCLUDE ***
Personally for me its lost its sparkle here as a shopping outlet but for lunch on the sea and just somewhere to spend your time on a Sunday afternoon, then this place is ideal. The Spinnaker Tower is worth a visit for the photography and views but if you want shopping then aim for other outlets that promise what they deliver.
Too many restaurants now not enough places to shop and Tesco looks so out of place there.
Thanks for reading. x
Gunwharf Quays is situated in Southsea, Portsmouth. It is situated by the Spinneakar tower, a tourist feature of Portsmouth. It is right by the quay, hence the name, and so is lovely in the summer watching the boats come in and out. It's about 10/15 minutes from the motorway junction and fairly easy to find with signposts all the way there. Gunwharf is a very new area of Portsmouth and so is very fresh and clean.
Gunwharf is an outlet store which means is tends to deal in discount stores for big brands rather than your standard high street stores such as topman, burton etc. The best stores in the centre are stores like:
Here is the full range, there is something for everyone!
As the stores are outlets they tend to carry older stock, but at very good prices. There are many bargains from high end expensive brands. I've picked up jack wills t shirts for £10, Ralph Lauren polos for £15, vans for £20.... The list could go on!
*Food and Entertainment*
One area that Gunwharf quays excels in, aside from the shopping, is the food, bars and restaurants. There are variety of food places such as:
Frankie and Bennies
Slug and lettuce
And a few others. My personal favourite is the Fire and Stone that do various pizzas with very different toppings. A really unique, well priced restaurant that I simply love.
There are several bars, some of which also sell food:
Tiger tiger (also a club at night)
All bar one
In regards to entertainment you can go bowling on the second floor, or go to the cinema. If you are more of a gambler there is a casino on the ground floor.
Gunwharf Quays really does have all points covered in regards to food drink and entertainment!!
Gunwharf boasts an award winning car park underneath the outlets. It's fairly expensive and a shopping trip will cost you probably £4 in parking. In the summer the car park is a cool place to park, keeping your car at a decent temp which is always nice after a long day shopping. The car park is huge so finding a space should never be an issue, even at busy Xmas periods.
A very clean, modern outlet centre that is great for a days shopping. It's also a great venue for day time or evening fun or just grabbing a bite to eat. Gunwharf really has the full package and is the best shopping place for miles around. It gets 5 stars from me.
I live about half an hour away from gun wharf quays and would not say its the kind of place you would go regularly but if you have a few things to get and it is a nice day then it is definitely worth a visit.
I tend to go most when my children need new shoes as there is a Clarks outlet there with a large children's section. The shoes tend to be between half price and a third off regular Clarke prices and are usually current season ones. A couple of pairs of shoes and it makes the extortionate parking charges almost worth it!
The parking costs about £5 is you're there for 3 hours or more I think and I think this is quite expensive considering the only reason you go there is to spend more money! Having said that if you have a list of things to get you can easily save the parking charges in money off! Recent finds include a £60 radley handbag that should have been £120 and strapless bras from m&s for £7!
There are some fantastic restaurants at Gun wharf Quays which is why I suggest going on a nice sunny day as the restaurants all have verandas with views of the water and Spinnaker Tower. It can get quite windy here as it is right by the sea so take a cardigan!
If you don't want a full meal there is a couple of good stands in the middle square selling hot meat baguettes or soup in the winter, lovely!
There is a great range of shops including lots of outlet versions of high street shops such as body shop and hmv. Good bargains to be had and great for buying birthday presents at fraction of the cost.
I visited Gunwharf Quays in April this year.... Gunwharf Quays is an outlet shopping centre and also has restaurants and bars overlooking the Quay (clue is in the title there!)
The shops themselves vary from your designer shops offering reduced prices but they also have some cheaper shops aswell such as next clearance and some sports shops. There is a Cadburys Shop which I feel I should mention as its a particular favourite of 'him indoors' who likes the misshape biscuits.. (he is easily pleased!)
The car park cost £3.90 for 2-3 hours which some might consider expensive, however the car park itself is underneath the shopping outlet and is open 24 hours so you are paying for the location and ease. It's also one of those 'fancy' carparks which tells you where there are vacant parking spaces but when we went it was fairly empty anyway...However on a Saturday there is also a park and ride service which runs from 9am - 6pm and cost £2.50 per car and up to 7 passengers... see www.portsmouth.gov.uk for more info
The bars and restaurants are a mixture including Frankie & Benny's, Nando's, Italian and Chinese so you should find something to everyone's taste, however there were no shops where you could buy sandwiches and than sit on the Quay (that I could find anyway). There is also a cinema here aswell.... word of warning though as we went to Frankie & Bennys on the Saturday evening and it was incredibly busy compared to the other restaurants...
At the time we went there was also an Italian Market on during the day which was an added bonus...
We did walk round the Quay which was clean and tidy and there are benches to sit on to while away the day and people watch... there is also a large ship figurehead which you can have your picture taken on. (if you like that sort of thing) There was also a part which was linked the blue reef aquarium which was like a pool but had fresh water fish in there but we couldn't actually see any as the water was quite dark!
You can also walk to the Historic Dockyards from the Quay and its about a 10 minute leisurely stroll.
The Spinnaker Tower is also at Gunwharf Quays.... I would also like to comment on the toilet facilities which were exceptionally clean and also offered hand cream and mouth wash should you feel the need...!
Overall a very pleasant experience... I would recommend sitting and relaxing in one of the bars/restaurants overlooking the Quay too... we visited Giraffe who were more than happy just for us to purchase drinks and sit in the sunshine....
If I were to visit Portsmouth again I would definitely visited Gunwharf Quays.....
Gunwharf Quays for those who dont know what it is, is a large shopping area full of high street shops and restaurants, located on the Portsmouth docklands. Until recently, the shopping facilities in Portsmouth were limited, and so the addition of Gunwharf Quays to the map in Portsmouth is sure to benefit the city, as well as those visiting it.
Upon visiting the first impressions are extremley good, there is lots of free space between shops to move about and the walkways are extremley wide. Natural light flows throughout, brightening up the whole area. The car park for the quays is located underneath the shops and is accessible via stairs, lifts and escalators.
The shops at Gunwharf Quays are mainly high street/designer shops featuring brands such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Superdry and Ted Baker. A large proportion of these shops are outlets, meaning they often have reduced items, or items which are "old season", ideal for a cash strapped student like myself :-)
I have often used Gunwharf Quays as a meeting area for friends, as it is signposted from the motorway, and no-one has strugged to find me as of yet.
There is a large selection of restaurants serving throughout the afternoon and into the evening, meaning you can take a break from shopping if you want to. In the summer, I recommend sitting outside the restaurants as they are located on the seafront of Portsmouth's old docklands, and you can watch all the pleasure boats entering and leaving the harbour.
The spinniker tower is also located in the Gunwharf Quays development and gives real birds eye views of Portsmouth, the surrounding area and the Isle of Wight . The floor is made of glass so you can look directly down underneath yourself which is a little weird, and not something I suggest you do if you are scared of heights.
One of the only problems I found whilst visiting the shops was that the open air corridors in between the shops act as a kind of wind tunnel, making it very windy undercover, when the weather changed outside. I guess this has to be expected however with its proximity to the sea.
Overall a great shopping experience, and I will be visiting again.
Gun Wharf Quays offers something very different to the normal shopping outlet facilities - there are lots of things for bored men to do whilst women can peruse the bargains!! (Sorry, very sexist I realise, but quite true in most cases I find).
Unlike traditional shopping malls or even other outlet shopping centres which can be places without a soul, Gun Wharf Quays is a little bit special. Set in the heart of the historic dockyard of Portsmouth, the shopping outlet is ringfenced by bars and restaurants, most of which have great sea views, and it feels almost like the South of France when the sun shines and you can have your meal or a drink outside looking at the sea and watching the boats go buy. There is a great vibe there, day or night, and even though it is often very busy at weekends, it always manages somehow to feel relaxing.
The choice of restuarants and bars is wide, from Indian and Chinese (great all you can eat buffet - don't go if you are on a diet!), to pub chains (Ha Ha, Slug & Lettuce etc) to Italians (Pizza Express, Strada) to Frence (Slug and Lettuce). There is also a lovely Loch Fyne (seafood) set in the remodelled Admiral's House - great setting and great food - highly recommended. If you want just a grab and go lunch (more shopping time) there are the usual coffee houses (Starburks, Cafe Nero) and independant sellers selling snacks in the heart of the complex itself.
Now to my favourite bit - the shops!!! What bargains to be had! I have been to quite a few shopping outlets in the UK (Clarks Village in Street, Bicester village, Swindon etc etc) and I think that the shops at Gun Wharf are amongst the best for diversity and bargains. Clothes wise, there is a good range from casual (Fat Face, White stuff, Next, M&S) through to high end high street (Karen Millen, Hobbs, LK Bennett) to designer (Ralph Lauren, Ted Baker, Paul Smith). The discounts vary from month to month, but can be excellent - when I went last month, Fat Face had 80% off their stock!!.
Those of you who have been kind enough to read some of my other reviews will know I am a bit of a cosmetic junkie, and there some great beauty stores - Crabtree and Evelyn, Molton Brown, Perfume Shop and "The Company Store" which stocks all goods within the Estee Lauder Group - so as well as Estee Lauder products themselves, there are Clinique, Bobbi Brown, Origins, MAC, Aveda etc etc all at reduced prices - absolute girly heaven!
For those who are not into shopping, there is a cinema complex, bowling, power boat rides and a gym so something to keep most people busy. Also of course is the Spinnaker Tower, which looks very impressive, but I have always been too busy shopping to go up it (and if truth be told am a bit scared of heights, so not really a great idea anyway!). If you run out of non shopping things to keep you occupied, then you could always pop next door to look at the Victory and Mary Rose in the historic shipyard.
For evening entertainment, as well as the bars and restaurants, there is a comedy club, nightclub and casino - all which I have heard very good reports of, though I have not visited them personally myself.
In the centre of the complex is an open square which holds different events throughout the year. The Christmas display is always fab in its tackiness, but great for kids, and there are craft stalls and french markets etc at different times throughout the year.
Now, please forgive me, but I have to tell you about the toilets - they are surely the most funky public toilets in the country. As well as the bright pink walls (I assume they are the same in the gents, but couldn't actually confirm this from personal experience!) they have funky Dyson airdry handdriers, plus loads of great freebies - as well as standard hand wash and lotion, there is mouthwash, tooth paste and free shoe cleaning! Also, and most important, they are spotlessly clean and manned by lovely friendly staff. For the mums out there, there is clean baby change facilities and areas to feed.
If you are exhausted by your shopping or partying, then you can stay on site at the hotel, which I haven't used so I can't review I am afraid. If you find you love it so much that you don't want to ever leave, then you can live there in one of the several purpose built apartment blocks - I am sure they would cost a pretty packet though.
So, any negatives then? Well apart from the obvious that your wallet is considerably lighter by the time that you leave the complex, my only complaint is that the car parking is ridiculously expensive - I have spent £7 parking there, and not been there all day which I think is just madness. Having said that, the car park does have very trendy green and red lights above each space to show you whether they are empty or full so you don't need to drive up and down for hours trying to find somewhere, but even so, too much money I think.
All in all a great place, to shop, eat or party - highly recommended.
Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth is a designer/high street shopping outlet and, arguably, one of the best in the south. It has a good mix of shops that cater to all ages and interests, lots of bars and restaurants and a Vue cinema complex. Added to this are the fantastic Spinnaker tower and the opportunity to take a boat trip around Portsmouth's historic harbour and you have a real winning combination.
Where is it?
Gunwharf Quays is situated right in the centre of Portsmouth and is well signposted and easily accessible from the M27 motorway. It is very close to the railway station and the buses stop outside, so is also easy to get to by public transport.
What about parking?
There is a big multi storey car park at the centre of the shops, which is quite expensive (my main complaint about Gunwharf), but if you are prepared to walk, there is parking nearby.
What shops are in Gunwharf?
There are lots of designer outlets, ranging from the more up market - Karen Millen, Austin Reed, Ghost, Calvin Klein, L K Bennet etc. to the high street - Marks and Spencer, Gap, Fat Face, Adidas, Next, Tog 24, Boots etc. The shops are primarily outlet stores, although some have the current season's range. This is a place to go for sale bargains, as the majority of the ranges are end of line or seconds. The stock has a fast turnover, so you can never be sure of what will be available, but there are bargains to be found most of the time. I am sorry that my favourite shops, Monsoon and Oasis are no longer in Gunwharf, but it makes for a cheaper shopping trip when I visit! It is a must at Christmas time to buy presents from Crabtree and Evelyn, Thorntons and Whittards, which have some great buys. Home ware shops are very good too; I particularly like the Villeroy and Boch store, which has some lovely china and glassware.
Restaurants and Bars
There are lots to choose from, ranging from the traditional British pub through to the recently opened Brasserie Blanc, where I had lunch today. I would thoroughly recommend Brasserie Blanc for lunch; the three course meal with wine is £15 and was absolutely delicious. It has a very good a la carte menu too, which I am going to try in the evening. The service was very good and the menus have ample choice of vegetarian and non meat options. This is certainly my favourite eating place in Gunwharf Quays and would be my recommendation as a good value, high quality restaurant. My second favourite place for lunch, the Ha Ha Bar, is great for snacks as well as bigger meals. There is plenty of choice for meat eaters and vegetarians and the chocolate brownie is scrumptious. I am also fond of La Tasca for a lunchtime snack and have had eaten several times in the evening, at Loch Fyne. Both are part of chains, so the food is something that can be relied upon to be of a consistent quality.
What else is at Gunwharf Quays?
* There is a good Vue cinema, which has several screens and comfortable seats. As always, my only complaint here is the cost of drinks and snacks, which put the price of a cinema trip up considerably. One good thing about visiting Vue is that the car park charge can be reduced by showing the ticket at the desk, where they will enter it onto a machine which registers the stay as the minimum time payable. Be warned, though, check your time carefully if you are eating too, as the car park charges are high - I spent several hours here once and ended up paying about £8!
* Round the harbour cruises are a good way to get the feel of the naval history of Portsmouth. They leave from the quayside regularly and are particularly good to take when Navy Days are on (normally early August.)
* The Spinnaker Tower is a good way to see a panorama of Portsmouth and has a brilliant glass floor - quite scary for anyone with vertigo, but a great experience. There is a café downstairs too, although there are plenty of other cafes close by that are maybe nicer.
My Overall rating of Gunwharf Quays as an outlet centre and place to visit
I live quite close - about 10 miles away, so it is very much a local attraction for me. I think it is a good outlet centre and a very sociable place to have a nice meal at lunchtime or in the evening. I would travel from further away as the shops are nice, and it is a place I often use for meeting friends from outside the area. I would recommend a trip to Gunwharf, allowing a couple of hours to get round as it is quite large. It is possible to be quicker once you are familiar with the layout, and if you don't stop for tea or coffee. All in all, a huge boost to Portsmouth, which was very much in need of a facelift.
Made the time this week to visit Gunwharf Quays for the first time this year and I have to say how much it had changed since my last visit in September. The whole place seems to have been considerably expanded and for my money is now a lot better and offers a greater range.
For those who have yet to visit this amazing place, please allow me to explain further. The site that is now known as Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth used to be a Naval Base called HMS Vernon with a historical timeline that goes back to Richard I in 1194. One of the main things this facility that was used for was the mounting of weapons onto Naval Ships, which is how it got the name 'Gunwharf'. In fact HMS Vernon was renamed from HMS Nelson in 1987 and was the HQ for the Royal Marines as well as a location where Mine Warfare training was also performed; in fact this was still taking place up to 1st April 1996, when the site was closed down.
At the time that HMS Vernon closed down, Portsmouth lost another valuable site and it was decided that regeneration of the naval base was a vital necessity, not only to ensure local employment but also to allow Portsmouth to grow as a city. In May 1998 the plan was launched to rebuild and turn a closed down Naval Base into a place to shop, relax and live in a brand new modern residential area. This meant that everything that belonged to HMS Vernon had to be demolished, everything apart from a handful of buildings that had to be considered part of the regeneration due to their listed status.
Gunwharf Quays opened in March 2001 and consisted mainly of shops and restaurants and although the mix of shops include well known names such as Next, HMV, Zavvi and the obligatory Starbucks. The main difference between Gunwharf and say somewhere like Bluewater is the fact that the shops here are mainly retail clearance stores selling end of lines stock. Additionally this means that there are a number of other shops, such as Calvin Klein, Paul Smith, Oakley, Nike and Adidas as well as Levi's, Fred Perry, Whittards, Cotton Traders and surprisingly Marks and Spencer's as well, so there is a veritable mix of brand and designer names, I felt that a genuine attempt had been made to cater for everyone and that was only in Phase 1 of the development!!!
Phase 2 included the opening of a Casino, Holiday Inn Express, Molton Brown, Puma, and Vans to name but a few. Personally this surprised me as a number of these companies have premises that are few and far between and have not really been known to have premises based outside of Central London, so to go to Portsmouth and see shops such as Barbour or Karen Millen was quite a surprise in itself.
As a retail outlet it works and it works well, but on the flipside the shops may not appeal to everyone's tastes. When I visit I know that there are certain shops that will not interest me at all and don't ever intend to go there, for example the Fred Perry shop has a sale, but this is only taking 10% of a certainamount of items, so for a Polo shirt I would still be paying around £45, where as if I go into the Adidas shop I could pick up a similar item for £12 reduced from £20. So unless you have a game plan then it makes sense to look around the place first. Trainers are an exceptionally good buy as the Nike shop starts at £20 going up to about £50; this is repeated in Puma as well. So bargains can be found, its just a case of finding them first.
Ok so we have a Starbucks and there is a Costa as well, but what if you wanted a proper meal, well that's not a problem at all. The side of Gunwharf facing the Harbour has been built with a number of Restaurants and Bars that are open throughout the day and some of the night as well. These include Tootsies, Slug and Lettuce, La Tasca, Ha Ha Bar and Tiger Tiger. I found that these were mainly for late lunch or late afternoon/ early evening Dinner. Although places like Tiger Tiger do cater for the nightlife aspect from around 9pm till late and it is quite busy in this part of Gunwharf and is quite lively after dark. As well as nightclubs there is also the Vue Multiplex Cinema located on the first floor is also busy throughout the day with a steady stream of patrons. As well as the Cinema there is Nando's and Chiquitos located up there too. So in general you have all the standard leisure/ retail park restaurants to visit, which does generally cover a large aspect of food types.
If you want something lighter then Burger King and Subway are located just behind the impressive Spinnaker Tower. In fact there is still some building going on as the finishing touches are just being placed upon the 'Lipstick Tower' a high rise block consisting of apartments that overlooks the entire Gunwharf complex.
For me the benchmark of place like this is how good the facilities actually are such as car parking and lavatories. Well I have to say that the lavatories have had a complete make over. With the addition of a Concierge in attendance outside, this impressed me a lot and was better than the usual security camera mounted in the ceiling that was there previously. Can't say I know about the Ladies, but the Gents was absolutely spotless, with a well sized cubicle including Baby Changing facilities. Sinks were cleans and had a choice of Hand Soap and Moisturisers in bottled dispensers above the sink. The taps are touch sensitive and ensures that no water is wasted at all. Also the hand dryers have been upgraded to the impressive Dyson Airblades to which you just drop your hands in and pull them out slowly and they are bone dry!
The other benchmark for me is how well the drivers are catered for. Impressively the parking is easy as well as there are 1450 spaces available on two levels including Disabled spaces, the good thing is that you park directly under the complex and take an escalator right into the heart of the shops. Prices for parking are okay, certainly cheaper by about 40% than what I am used to in Croydon, we stayed for five hours and it cost a fiver. At home five hours would have cost between £9 and £11!! If you don't have a car don't worry as the London to Portsmouth mainline station, Portsmouth Harbour, is right next door to Gunwharf, as is the Seacat that takes foot passengers to the Isle of Wight is located next to the Station as well, so the whole complex is set next to one giant transport hub for the Solent, and it is the Seacat that you can see leaving the Harbour with the other ferries as well as they all go past the restaurant area on the waterside of Gunwharf to leave the Harbour.
Since the Spinnaker Tower opened the whole place seems to have that added bit of sparkle, for me it was noticeable that it was a lot busier in that area, okay it was the summer holidays and nice weather. The Tower is impressive in its own right and is a great landmark for the Quays as it's something that you just cannot miss and recommend a trip to the top as the views are absolutely awesome as on a clear day you can see for up to 25 miles.
Although you can clearly see across the water to Gosport there are a number of moorings in a mini marina, from here you can take a tour of Portsmouth Harbour which takes about an hour or so. Usually the marina is full of boats that have moored here and these all vary in size from the smallish sailboat to a multi million pound cruiser. In actual fact its nice just to sit here with a Coffee and watch the world go by, the atmosphere is relaxing and it seems nobody is actually rushing about at all. Watching the Brittany Ferries arrive in the Harbour is an eye opener, especially when they dwarf the buildings on Spice Island.
As I mentioned above a number of buildings had to be left standing due to their listed status, just a few of these are the Vulcan Building, The Infirmary and Nelson's Gate which have been gracefully absorbed into the designs and have new found new life as an Art Gallery, Restaurant and Gateway pedestrian entrance to Gunwharf respectively. So other than that the shops there is plenty to see and do.
The Naval Base had a dry dock; although the majority of this is still there, it has now been transformed into a canal running through the site. A third of it has been turned into a fishery and has a wide number of varieties of fish swimming about; some of these are quite large in size and look quite menacing, I think that these were Carp in breed. The remainder of the canal passes a number of restaurants that unsurprisingly tend to take full advantage of their location and have outdoor seating available which makes the location all the more pleasant to visit and adds to the atmosphere.
Overall this is a great place to spend a day as well as some money, although one worrying aspect is that I don't tend to visit Portsmouth Town Centre at all now as I prefer to stay within the realms of Gunwharf as it has everything I need, as it is genuinely a great place to chill out. So even though this is a positive on the City, the negative could be being felt in the nearby High Street.
What I was content with was that the history is never forgotten or totally erased from sight because as you stroll around it is evident when you see the remaining Naval buildings. As soon as you see them you know that they aren't new, due to the appearance, but reading the various plaques or the photos nearby inform you just how much an integral part the base actually played for the Royal Navy and how much respect is due to this place.
I have always loved Portsmouth and southsea, although I never grow up there it is a place I have visited on a regular basis as I just love all of the history and the surrounding views of the harbour and the Isle of Wight.
I had not visited Portsmouth for many years, so me and my partner decided to do down for a long weekend, upon arrival we were amased how much this place had grown, buildings and been demolished and replaced with trendy state of the art looking buildings, yes there were still some of the older features that I remember but the new additions have made this city even more stunning.
One of Portsmouth's newest editions is the Gunwarf Quays, this is a designer shopping outlet village which sells all of the designer clothing at very low cut down prices. The gunwarf first opened in 2001, and consisted as a square of designer shops. Since this date hotels, marinas, restaurants, nightclubs, bars and even the spinnaker tower has been constructed making the gunwarf a very popular attraction.
The gunwarf has over 90 different designer clothing, accessories, and home ware shops. Some of which are Nike, Adidas, Puma, Quicksilver, Animal, Reef, Gul, Ted Baker, Paul Smith, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, French Connection, Next, Tula, Radley, Fred Perry, Oakley and many more.
These shops have last seasons designs are very low cut down prices, sometimes you can get them at 80% off the original retail price. I managed to pick up a large radley purse for 16.00 the last time I visited, it should have been 50.00. A real bargain.
BARS AND CLUB
The gunwarf has in the excess of twenty five bars, restaurant and nightclubs. All of which are open during the day, but of a night the gunwarf is the place to be and attracts many visitors from all over the place.
The bars and nightclubs can be expensive but it is worth trying them, as they are done out really well. These places are very strict on age limits so if you look under 25 years old I would advise you to have ID with you.
More recently the gunwarf has constructed the 170 meter tall spinnaker tower, the tower can be seen for miles around. The tower has a glass elevator to take you to the top and then it also has glass floors so you can take in the sights of the Portsmouth harbour, Isle of Wight, the Solent and south sea.
To visit the tower, it will cost you 3.50 per person. The views are great and it is recommended that you take a look and a camera to snap the views. I would also suggest you go on a nice clear day, for you to see the views to their full potential, otherwise the views can be limited.
The last time I visited the gunwarf luxury apartments were being built in a huge skyscraper, these apartments to will have views of the harbour and the P & O channel ferries.
Out of curiosity we looked around the show apartment, which were very well done out and surrounded by glass windows, there had a guide price of 1.2 million each. Alot of money for an apartment but they were stunning, if I had the money I am sure I would buy one.
There is also a marines, where you can either park up you boats and then people will take care of them for you, I am sure this will be very expensive but if you have a boat it may be worth looking at.
OTHER PORTSMOUTH ATTRACTIONS
The gunwarf is well located and within walking distance of a short drive you can visit, southsea shopping, southsea beach, southsea fun fair, sea life centres, the castle, Portsmouth city centre.
You can walk the millennium trail, from the gunwarf to south sea. This is a chained path that runs along the old Portsmouth wall along the harbour, through the fun fair and finishing at southsea beach.
The gunwarf quays location is beautifully set with amazing views across the water, so if you fancy just relaxing you can get yourself a drink from one of the many bars and just sit and watch all of the boats on the water and take in the surroundings.
But if you are a true shopper then you can easily spend the day looking around the designer shops, a flexi friend would be needed if you go as there are many bargains to be had.
There was an eat all you can Chinese buffet that costs 6.50 per person, this was really nice and all the food was fresh and changed on a regular basis, so this is somewhere I would recommend if you want to sit down and eat.
The nightclubs were good, but some were full of youngsters, so we only had a couple of drinks to say we tried it, then we went into a wine bar and spent the night there, this was one of the best nights out I have had in years.
So if you are ever in the area you should really visit the gunwarf as it can cater for every need, you don't just have to shop, you can get a nice snack, light meal and fully blown sit down meal. You can even take a boat trip around the harbour, to one of Portsmouth's three fortes and even the Isle of Wight. These boat trips are very reasonable priced so they will not break the bank.
The gunwarf quays is located in Portsmouth Hampshire, it is situated the at the former royal navy shore establishment HMS Vernon and renamed HMS Nelson (Vernon Site) on march 31 19 86 In 1987 the establishment was renamed HMS Nelson (Gunwharf) although locally it continued to be known as HMS Vernon.
The Berkeley Group plc was responsible for the development of the Gunwharf Quays, which is now owned by Land Securities. The area has also become an extremely affluent residential area of Portsmouth, and houses many luxurious apartment buildings.
The old HMS nelson site is now home to the gunwarf quays, a large designer outlet shopping centre, these designer outlets opened in February 2001, the centre itself holds over contains 90 designer shopping outlets as well as 25 bars and restaurants and nightclubs.
Gunwarf quays also have a 14-screen cinema, a bowling alley, a comedy club, a contemporary art gallery, and a 120 bed hotel. So it is the in place to be day or night.
The newest edition to the quay is the long awaited spinnaker Tower a 170 metre tall visitor attraction overlooking historical Portsmouth harbour and the Solent. It has a glass external elevator it ferry people to the top, where there are three floors to take in the inspiring views of the Isle of Wight.
Currently under construction is a 26 storey Skyscraper under the title Eastside Plaza, built to resemble a funnel (know to locals as the lipstick). This makes a seafaring composition with the existing sail-like look of the spinnaker tower. There are numerous bars, cafes and restaurants located by the waterfront with a view of shipping movements of the P & O ferries in the Portsmouth Harbour.
The shopping complex itself is open 7 days a week, Monday to Friday 10.00am - 7.00pm, Saturdays 9.00am - 7.00pm and Sunday 10.00am - 5.00pm. On a Sunday the larger stores do not open until 11.00am. The bars, restaurants and leisure facilities are open 7 days and nights a week.
This is a great place to enjoy a totally new shopping experience and wander through wide-open spaces, along pedestrian avenues, while taking in the vibrant atmosphere.
There are more than 90 designer outlet stores with an incredible range of the latest fashions and leisurewear, household goods, toys, books, music and more, with savings up to 70% on high street prices.
The current retailers are adidas, animal, bench and hooch, Calvin Klein, Fred Perry, Burberry, Karen Millan, Next, Mambo, O'Neil, Timberland, Paul Smith, Warehouse, Guess, Oakley Ted Baker, Puma, Nike, Ralph Lauren, Monsoon, Reef, Gap, Tula, Oasis, Vans, HMV, Molten Brown and many more.
If have personally found that February and September are the best times to visit, as the store seem to have better sales on during these periods. The last time I went was February and I got a Guess bag for 12.50, what a bargain when it should have been 160.00.
So if you are in to your designer gear, save your pennies and visit the gunwarf. You could even make a weekend out of it as there is a 120 bad hotel situated within the complex, it is very reasonably priced as well.
There are around 25 different bars and restaurants situated within and around the complex, all of which have amazing views of the harbour, in which you see boats and ferries docking and sailing away.
The bars and restaurants can cater for you every need, they range from quick snacks to full sit down meals. So dependent on your mood there is something for everyone at affordable prices.
Dine on the freshest seafood, the unique taste of modern British cuisine or sample the delights of many other flavours from around the world. All with the backdrop of a lively waterfront promenade set upon a bustling historic harbour.
The gunwarf quays it also home to many amazing bars and night club, giving the place an all round buzz at night.
I would highly recommend you take ID if you don't look at least 25 as they are very strict on who they let in, this only applies at night during the day these bars are open to families.
If you are fortunate enough to own a Super Yacht or even Tall Ship, this marina can accommodate you at a price (costly I am sure). Gunwharf marina has 24-hour access and plenty of depth.
The berths can take vessels up to 78m in length, and are currently among the most sought after berths on the south coast. Booking is required prior to birthing.
The wholes gunwarf quay complex is situated above a massive underground car park, so you are able to park in the thick of it. A charge for car parking needs to be made.
WHAT IS IN WALKING DISTANCE
Within walk distance of the gunwarf is, Isle of Wight ferries terminal, Portsmouth city centre, Portsmouth FC football club, The University, South Sea, Clarence pier fun fair, Sea life centre, South Sea shopping, and the millennium trail which walks you along the Portsmouth harbour, through Clarence pier and south sea.
TRIPS FROM GUNWARF
There are many boat trips that run from the gunwarf quays, harbour tour around Portsmouth, Isle of Wight and my favourite spitbank forte.
Spitbank forte is one of three fortes situated within the harbour, it runs day trips to the forte to visit and look around at the forte and the wildlife within it. In the evenings spitbank is open to the public for a hog roast, this cost roughly 15.00 per person but the trip consists of water taxi to and from the forte and a hog roast meal, the trip last roughly 3 hours.
In the summer season spitbank also holds a party on Saturday evenings, once every four weeks where sort after DJs go over and host the party, giving you a night of great music and dancing.
Tickets are needed for these events and include transport to and from the forte, unless you leave the forte after midnight because the last water taxi is at 11.50pm. If you do decide to stay after midnight you can get a water taxi home at your own cost, usually 6.00 one way.
So this is a summary of the quays, I went to visit my grandparents in-law for the first time, with the view of why the hell have I taken three days off work to go there. But wow I was amazed I really enjoyed myself without expecting it. There was so much to do although I did spend a fortune in the shops, bars and clubs it is a break away that will stay with me forever.
I loved it so much me and my husband go and visit the grandparents four times a year, just to go to the Gunwarf to restock our wardrobes and have a great binge and drink and food.
I do feel guilty that we visit so we can go to the quays, but I don't have the heart to tell the grandparents I just let then assume we love to visit them.
Hopefully when my lottery numbers will come up I can buy a super yacht and moor up for a few days, you never know I may even win enough to buy a new pent house apartment in the lipstick they a currently constructing. You never know fingers crossed or I can just keep dreaming.
I lived in Portsmouth for many, many years, loving it, and since the creation of Gunwharf Quays, I have loved it every bit more. Finally there was a clean, modern, fresh new area to go and spend a Saturday afternoon with friends. It has so much to offer, from GAP Outlets, FCUK Outlets, Oakley Outlets, Starbucks Cafe, Nike Outlets and even a VUE cinema playing the latest films on many different screens.
When you get hungry, you will not be short of options to choose from when you go to eat, with restaurants rangeing from McDonalds to Spanish and Mexican places, to Chinese and Japanese places. Something for everyone. The best thing of all is when you are eating, you can sit on the tables outside on a nice day and watch as the boats go by as you are right on the edge of Portsmouth's famous Old Harbours.
The newly constructed Spinnaker Tower can be climbed for a small price of 5 GBP and give flawless views of the whole of Portsmouth. For those with a strong stomache, there is a glass floor panel on the top floor that when you walk on it, you feel like you are walking in thin air, hundered of feet high.
So, along with the city of Portsmouth, Qunwharf Quays is a must go place for all your Saturday afternoon needs!
The Gunwharf Quays complex near Portsmouth Harbour station and the Historic Dockyard attracts visitors not only from Portsmouth and Southsea itself, but also from the Isle of Wight, Gosport, Hayling Island, Fareham, Cosham and Havant. Unmissable thanks to the Spinnaker Tower, it can be extremely crowded at weekends and during holiday periods. The waterfront location, however, makes it quite a special place, and I would recommend a visit on a weekday in fine weather.
Gunwharf Quays is essentially a collection of factory outlet stores offering substantial discounts. For clothing, you can choose between Marks and Spencer's, Next, Gap, Monsoon and Fat Face among others. Tula has a selection of beautiful handbags: I recently paid £24 for a bag that was originally priced £75. You will also find shoe shops such as Hush Puppies, and underwear stores. CDs and DVDs are upstairs at HMV. Crabtree and Evelyn is mainly a source of high quality toiletries, but they also stock biscuits and jams. Just across from their store you can find a wide selection of speciality teas and coffees to buy at Whittard's. If you are looking for kitchenware or china such as Denby, these too are found at Gunwharf. For chocoholics there is a Cadbury outlet. Watch out for the ATMs that are situated beside Marks and Spencer's, as they will charge you for making a cash withdrawal.
I personally don't enjoy shopping at Gunwharf at weekends. One Saturday afternoon I was there with one of my sons who was looking for a waterproof jacket and had found good bargains in the past at Oakley's. On entering, he found a woman with a buggy parked right alongside the rail of jackets. When he tried to approach, she pointed out that her three young children were sitting on the floor - underneath the jackets. She refused to ask them to move, and she refused to move her buggy as well. We left the shop in despair and returned a little while later.
For clothes shopping, I would actually prefer Southsea shopping centre which has two department stores - Debenham's and Knight and Lee (a branch of John Lewis), especially now that sales are so frequent. Knight and Lee is also my first choice for washing machines, fridges, and so on, as they offer a two-year guarantee. For books, Waterstones in Commercial Road is far superior to the branch of The Works, which is the only bookstore in Gunwharf Quays. I also lament the absence of a Lush store - not only in Gunwharf, but in fact anywhere in Portsmouth.
RESTAURANTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
If you want a break from your shopping, you can watch a film at Vue cinema, go bowling at Bowlplex, or see the view from the top of the south coast's most famous landmark, the Spinnaker Tower. At the end of the day you can go clubbing at Tiger Tiger or visit the Grosvenor Casino. There are cafes such as Starbuck's and Nero's as well as a pub. And when the shops finally close, you can choose from a range of eateries: Pizza Express, Zizzi's, La Tasca, Santa Fe, the Ha Ha Bar and Tootsie's are all situated right down on the waterfront, so you can relax, look out over the harbour, and perhaps see a rosy sunset into the bargain. By the canalside you also have Cafe Rouge or the Loch Fynne restaurant, which specialises in fish.
Pizza Express and Zizzi's both offer an Italian menu and are situated right next door to each other. As well as pizza, I have enjoyed a salad with gorgonzola, pear and ham at Pizza Express; it is often, however, extremely crowded. Zizzi's has a choice of three folded pizzas as well as the more traditional variety. I have recently had an oven-baked pasta dish there with chicken and two types of cheese, but the advertised broccoli was conspicuous by its absence. I am assured that their risottos are delicious.
If you prefer Spanish food, try La Tasca, where the menu consists largely of tapas dishes which is an interesting way to try a little of several different dishes. On a Saturday evening you are unlikely to get a table straight away unless you have reserved. I have heard tales of poor service here, but have not had any bad experiences myself.
Being interested in all things French I often choose to go to Cafe Rouge in Gunwharf, and maintain that it is the best place for coffee. I also recently discovered that they offer a special 'prix fixe' for either two or three courses before 5pm. Specials, however, tend to run out quite quickly. Their seafood casserole with dory, salmon and mussels is delicious; I can also recommend poulet breton, steak with Calvados sauce, and saucisses de Toulouse. If you are too full for a large dessert, their lemon sorbet is heavenly.
For fast food junkies, there is a branch of Burger King, but I can't comment on it as I try to steer clear of it.
ASPEX ART GALLERY
Anyone interested in contemporary art should visit the Aspex Gallery; I visited it myself just after five o'clock one Saturday afternoon and was dismayed to find that I was the only visitor, although a young couple did come in while I was there. The gallery comprises an exhibition area, an educational area, a glass-fronted room offering resources for local artists, a coffee shop, and a shop selling jewellery, crafts, art magazines, ceramics, artists' prints and greetings cards. At the time of my visit, the biennial 'Emergency' exhibition was showing; it is open to artists the world over, and one of the chosen few is later given the opportunity of a solo exhibition.
But Aspex is more than just a gallery. It is part of the 'arc' or Artists' Resource Centre network that extends across south-east England, providing support for practising artists in the local area. This support can take the form of one-to-one surgeries, use of the computers and journals in Aspex's resource centre, discussion groups with fellow artists, or presentations on methods of practice or current opportunities for artists.
Children of school age can also participate here in holiday and Saturday clubs. Schools and colleges are able to plan group visits, and talks and tours are organized from time to time for both specialists in the field and those who wish to find out more about contemporary art. It is even possible to hire the gallery for events such as cocktail parties or product launches. If you are looking for a quiet place in Gunwharf Quays to enjoy lunch or coffee away from the crowds, the Aspex coffee shop would be ideal. Kids' Art Lunch Boxes with organic drinks and activity sheets are available there. It also from time to time hosts film screenings and performances.
The Aspex Gallery is situated on the ground floor and is accessible to disabled visitors; guide dogs are welcome. Aspex allows breast feeding, and baby-changing facilities are available in the toilet by the Education Studio. The gallery is closed on Monday.
The public conveniences at Gunwharf Quays have recently been revamped: the taps do not need to be touched by hand, and the hand dryers collect the water whilst taking only ten seconds to dry your hands. Hand cream is provided as well as soap. On leaving, you can use the shoe shine appliance, but you may have to queue for this.
Gunwharf Quays is ideal for a family day out since there is plenty of entertainment to relieve the boredom of shopping, and the waterfront provides a particularly picturesque location. If you are travelling by rail, alight at Portsmouth Harbour Station; Gunwharf Quays is just five minutes' walk from here. By road, take the M27 and then the M275 into Portsmouth; Gunwharf Quays Car Park is clearly signposted along the way.
I expect most of you have not even thought about Christmas 2006, however if you are like me, then you start thinking about buying pre-Yuletide gifts now. In that case then it might be worth your while to take a trip to Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth.
Gunwharf Quays is a relatively new waterfront development between the Dockyard and Old Portsmouth, a haven for businesses, shopping, entertainment and restaurants.
Very recently the Spinnaker Tower was finally completed and you can ride up to the top in its glass lift. Not for those who don't like heights believe me but the view is fantastic I have been told. The Spinnaker Tower is set to become a new icon, soaring 170 metres above the harbour of Portsmouth. The Spinnaker resembles a large sail and if you keep this into view whilst driving towards Gunwharf, you wont miss the car park. There is also a great restaurant under the tower with amazing views over the solent.
Gunwharf is a shopping outlet built right in the heart of Portsmouth. What makes this place so special is that it sells brand names for 75% less than the high street. It's not just in January either; it's all year round. If you are unsure about that making that first trip, then please read on for some further advice and recommendations.
To be honest it's an absolute nightmare. We go by car and driving through Portsmouth town centre to gain access to the Quays is far from easy. Whatever time you enter Portsmouth it's hectic and reminds me of a smaller version of London, lots of lanes, huge round abouts and vehicles that come at you from all angles. The A3 (M) or M27/A27 connect Portsmouth Harbour with the motorway network so when you arrive in to Portsmouth (M275) you then follow the brown signs to the "Historic Waterfront" and then you pick up Gunwharf Quays.
We come from Basingstoke and take the M3, M27 route in and its all sign posted but just a nightmare to drive through so take care.
If you use public transport then the nearest train station is Portsmouth Harbour, which is only a 5-minute walk away. Bus stops serve the whole city, and National Express stops, are located at the Hard Interchange which is also a short walk away.
There is also a park and ride system in place and also a taxi rank is located next to Marks & Spencer.
The main car park at the Quays is huge and usually we don't not have to wait that long to get inside. On entering the car park there are 4 entry lanes inside with ticket barriers. The lanes slowly merge into two so be careful and give way accordingly. Once inside it is well lit and extrmely well maintained.
The lanes are marked for pedetraians but the exit lanes onto the next floor are somewhat confusing. We encountered quite a few no entrance signs before we found a way up and a way out.
It is very busy and hectic inside so just be careful and be aware. The allocated spaces are box standard in that they just allow an MPV in, not much door room.
Prices are a bit steep. It's a ticket barrier so as you exit out of the village remember to pay for your ticket there and then. The pay booths are very easy to use and take most coinage and notes (UK). They give you change if you don't have the right money and there is also a help buzzer to connect you to a member of staff.
Charges are as follows:
2 hours, £2.50
3 hours, £3.50
4 hours, £4.50
5 hours, £5.50
6 hours, £6.50
7 hours, £8.00
10 hours, £10.00
Over 10 hours, £20.00
If you want to stay overnight there is a hotel close to the Quays. Contact number is 0870 417 6161.
***DISABLED and PRAM/BUGGY ACCESS***:
Very easy to get around. There are large lifts at many points and all shops are easy to get into. There is a customer service point as you enter the quays that offer help to all disabled customers. As the shops are on the level, access is no problem.
There is a shop mobility scheme at Gunwharf Quays. According to the leaflet I picked up there are 4 electric scooters, 2 electric wheelchairs and 20 manual wheelchairs available to anybody with mobility difficulties and can be used free of charge.
Call on 023 9283 6700 for more details.
Very clean and with baby changing facilities. At weekends the ladies loo's are full so be prepared to que. Also disabled toilets but most are locked and you have to find an attendant unless you hold a special key to unlock.
They are located on the waterfront next to Café Giardino and on Caen Marché next to Cotton Traders. The disabled toilets are off Marlborough Avenue next to Presto.
There is set of cash machines (Halifax, NatWest and HSBC) by Marks & Spencer and there is a Lloyds TSB cash machine by Burger King.
There are also a cash machines in Tiger Tiger, Bar 38 and The Old Customs House. Not sure if these are free to access your cash so be prepared to pay .
There is a Bureau De Change in Central Square.
Yes, no joke, there are mobile car washers around the car park. They charge from £8 for a basic wash upto £65 for a full valet.
I had them wash my Galaxy and when I got home noticed they didn't clean the roof completley, leaving a mohican stripe down the middle. Perhaps they better invest in step ladders.
***SHOP TILL YOU DROP****:
This is the best bit. Once on the middle floor the world of shopping comes into itself. As you exit the lift you are (usually) greeted by a market of some sort. The last time I was there it was a French market and the aroma was unbelievable. Don't expect many French bargains as the market is mostley food and the odd craft or two. The chocolate crepes are not to be missed but the chocolate marshallows are way over priced - £5 for a few marshmallows dipped in chocolate, well over priced.
The shops are all around you and depending what you want, just shop till your feet can take no more. If you turn left at the lift exit and then left again, follow the shops round, you will come to the ferry point which is the hilight of my trip to the Quays.
Yes I love the shopping but there is something quite awesome seeing these huge ferries close up, gracefully slide into the harbour and then leave again. I admit to being an anorak and spend a good 30 minutes looking over the quayside just admiring the beautiful boats. Ok enough of that before I go into one.
Here's a line up of what is on offer:
Marks & Spencer
Crew Clothing Co.
AND THERE'S MORE:
Crabtree & Evelyn
Factory Outlet Cars - yes you can buy real cars , not that many on display though.
Whittard of Chelsea Boots
Clinton Cards -
Daniel James Jewellers
Gunwharf Logo Store
The Perfume Shop
Whittard of Chelsea
***SOME OF MY PERSONAL FAVOURITES***
Next: - Recently opened and on two floors. Lots of items currently in the stores are here are very reduced prices. Absolutely worth a look.
Donnay - Some unbelievable bargains on my last visit. These included:
1 x size 12 Addidas ¾ length shorts with England logo. Retail at £24.99, I paid £5.
2 x men's size large rugby shirts with England logo. Retail at £30.00, I paid £2.99.
Donnay socks retail at £10.00 for 5 pairs, I paid £1.75.
Nike sports bottle retails at £5, I paid £1.
Childs JCB shorts age 6, retails at £19.00, I paid £3.
A pain if you have a buggy as this store is packed full of stock. Hard to get around if you have a wheelchair on busy days.
GAP - say no more, speaks for itself.
O'Neill - brilliant summer clothes and great shades to match.
Clarks - Yes the shoe shop! Do not go anywhere else for your children's shoes, everything half the price of what you pay in store. Sunday is the busiest day so be warned, it's packed in there.
Similar to the Entertainer inside but not as vast. Some great bargains to be had here.
***NOT SO GOOD***:
Boots - as always Boots is by far very expensive and they do not reduce their prices here. It's a box standard Boots, nothing special. I avoid them in town and here.
Marks and Spencer - A very messy outlet, only selling stock they can't shift in the main stores. Not worth the walk unless you want to get to the cash points which are right next door to the entrance.
Cadbury's - Once again no different in prices. Selection the same as in the supermarkets.
Remington: No cheaper.
Unfortunately there is not 75% off the restaurants and bars but none the less there is a good selection on both middle and top floors of the quays.
Take your pick from
Frankie & Benny's
StradaTiger Tiger - restaurant and club, quite expensive
Ha! Ha! Bar & Canteen
Loch FyneSanta Fe
Burger King Not brilliant.
La Tasca - expensive
The Old Customs House - well worth a visit.
Yellow River Cafe - Asian food, very delish!
I recommend "THE OLD CUSTOMS HOUSE". Great English food and good traditional beer plus you can sit outside in the summer and watch the ferries up close (here I go again). Expect to pay around £7 for a meal here plus your drink. Good portions though and the roast dinner is divine.
I also like the Charbar where you cook the food yourself on your own table. This makes a good night out with adults, with children it's a nightmare.
If you have children then they usually opt for the only junk food outlet in the village which is Burger King. Situated very close to the Spinnaker Tower. Always busy and not that clean inside. Once again the prices are the same as the town centres.
***IF THE OTHER HALF IS BORED***:
Then send your partner up to the top floor where he or she can bowl, have a drink or watch a film while you spend on their credit card.
OPENING HOURS OVER CHRISTMAS:
On Christmas Eve the stores will be open from 9am - 5pm
Christmas Day closed.
Boxing Day, 10am - 5pm
Tuesday 27th December - Friday 30th December, 10am - 8pm
New Years Eve - 9am - 5pm
Monday to Friday, 10am - 8pm
Saturday, 9am - 8pm
Sunday, 10am - 5pm
Restaurants and bars have their own separate closing times, best to check with them beforehand.
Gunwharf Quays is quite an amazing place to shop. Most of the outlets are very cheap and there are bargains to be had. It's not the size of London but it does not have London prices.
There are customer points but not many. If you take children make sure they do not wander away. However you can report a lost child at the Visitor Information Kiosk where a member of staff l contacts the Gunwharf Quay's security.
Yes it's worth a visit even though its not the easiest place to get to.
However, be careful if you decide to visit there when it has been raining. I could not believe just how dangerous the floors are, shoppers were falling over like domino's yesterday. My chidren also a took a tumble and I had a rather un -lady like slide a few times. I was amazed there were no warning signs either so therefore take care when its wet outside. The decking by the tower is the worse area to walk.
Happy shopping folks.
www.gunwharf-quays.com for full contact details and an interactive map.
Although I live in Cardiff, I visit Portsmouth quite a lot as my boyfriend lives near there. We often go down to Gunwharf for a few hours, to shop or go to the cinema or just to sit on the front. There is a lot to do down there.
LOCATION and ACCESS:
Gunwharf is located on the waterfront in Portsmouth. It is a fantastic location, within walking distance of the historic dockyard and with great views over the Solent.
To drive to Gunwharf you need to take the M275 into Portsmouth - if you're heading in the right direction you can't miss this road as its really the only one into the city. From this road follow the brown 'historic dockyard' signs to Gunwharf. As there is only this one road into Portsmouth it can get busy. There is an underground car park at Gunwharf itself but this can be pricey. We usually park on one of the surrounding roads but this means you need to get there early to make sure of a space. It costs about £2 for 4 hours, the main car park is £4.50 for the same time.
Gunwharf is also 5 minutes walk from Portsmouth Harbour station and close to bus stops and the Isle of Wight ferry.
For the shops:
Thursday and Friday: 10-8
The bars and restaurants are normally open by 11 and some stay open past 11 at night.
Well the first thing (and my priority!) is the shops! There's a lot of them and they're all outlet shops so you can pick up some real bargains. IThe shops are:
Clarks Factory Outlet
Clinton Cards - NOW OPEN!
Crabtree & Evelyn
Crew Clothing Co.
Daniel James Jewellers
Denby & Le Creuset
Euro Hand Car Wash
Factory Outlet Cars
Gieves & Hawkes
Guess - NOW OPEN
Gunwharf Logo Store
Karen Millen Whistles
LKB by LK Bennett
L'Occitane - OPENING SOON
Marks & Spencer Outlet
Polo Ralph Lauren
The Paper Mill Store
The Perfume Shop
The Professional Cookware Company
Villeroy & Boch
Whittard of Chelsea
Now I don't use all of these but that's what's there altogether, so you can see there's a lot to choose from. Now on to my favourites! For clothes I love French Connection, Oasis and Monsoon. Next is good as well but I find it hard to pick out things in there as its not very ordered. I found a lovely linen skirt in French Connection for £15 which would have been about £50 on the high street. In the winter sale I bought a leather belt from Next which should have been about £15 and I paid £1!!
Its great for shoes as well. I would never normally buy shoes from Dune or LK Bennett as they're out of my Primark sized budget, but they are reduced heavily. LK Bennett shoes normally costing £80 are down to £30 or £20 and they are really nice shoes.
For anyone who loves Gap the outlet is a must (although it really annoys me that even at the outlet we still pay more than the americans!).
I like Bookends as well, although you have to look hard to find decent books sometimes, you can get bargains on new books.
In some of the shops I don't think that the price differs that much from the high street. HMV is an example, I think that most of their stuff is the same price as in a normal HMV shop. I don't find the Virgin shop that cheap either.
The good thing about Gunwharf is that there are shops for everyone. There are designer clothes, high street shops, music stores, book stores and home stores and its definately worth a look becuase you can save a load of money.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS:
There is also a restaurant for everyone. They've got everthing. It is lovely in the summer to sit on the front having a meal or a drink and being able to watch the water and have the view. The bars and restaurants are:
Frankie & Benny's
Ha! Ha! Bar & Canteen
The Old Customs House
The Soup Bar
Yellow River Cafe
My favourites are Strada, Tootsies and La Tasca. They're all chains so there may be one near you if Portsmouth is a bit of a trek! Strada is an Italian restaurant which has about average prices. It does lovely pizzas and nice steaks. My favourite bit is the mozzerella and tomato for starter, yum! Tootsies is quite expensive but it does lovely steaks and yummy burgers. La Tasca is a tapas restaurant which is great if you don't want to spend too much because you can buy a couple of dishes for a few pounds. Their food is delicious and I love the fact that you have so much to choose from and have so many different things in one meal.
OTHER THINGS TO DO:
The complex also has a cinema which is multi-screen and is averagely priced. There is a bowling complex, which I love as bowling is the only sport I'm any good at and I like to see my boyfriend's face when I beat him (evil I know!).
Then there's the Spinnaker Tower. This supposedly Millenium project was finished last year. It is spectacular to look at. I haven't been up but I would say the views would be incredible. The fact that there is a glass floor in parts means that it is not for the faint hearted!
I love Gunwharf, there's always a lot to do down there and its not just about shopping. There's much more too it than that. The location is fantastic and there's lots of places to socialise. Of course, I love the shopping and its great if you're a bargain hunter. And if you really like it you can live there as they're building a lot of flats as part of the redevelopment - great!! Well worth a visit.
WHAT IS GUNWHARF QUAYS? ---------------------------------------- It is a designer shopping outlet complex. But, make no mistake, this is no ordinary shopping outlet. As well as the usual array of designer shops, it has lots of entertainment too. It has over 65 designer outlets which have up to 70% off the high street prices. It?s definitely paradise for shopping! You can actually spend a whole day at this place. As well as the designer shops, there are plenty of cosmopolitan restaurants and pubs, such as Bar 38 or Tiger Tiger (must admit I haven?t been to these as I go for pure shopping). There?s also an 11-screen multiplex cinema and Bowlplex. The Bowlplex has a 26 lane bowling alley, a Pool Pit and there is also a Video World). So, as you can see, there is plenty for everyone. They also hold special events throughout the year so, if you want to go when there is something ?extra? to see then phone for up to date information on 023 9283 6700. For those of you who are sailing enthusiasts, Gunwharf Berths is right next door to the entrance of Portsmouth Harbour. There is over 500m of prime berthing space available so you can avoid all the road, rail and coach rush and arrive by boat!! For information on berths tel 023 9283 6736. As you can see, there is definitely something for everyone. WHERE IS IT? ----------------- It is in Portsmouth and is located beside the historic waterfront. It is easily accessible by road, rail, sea bus and coach. ROAD: The majority of Britain?s motorway network connect to the harbour at Portsmouth via the A3(M), M27/A27 and M275. Just follow the signs to the Historic Waterfront and you will eventually see the signs for Gunwharf Quays. RAIL: Gunwharf Quays is also situated right next to the station at Portsmouth Harbour. There are frequent services to Southampton, Guildford, Chichester, London, Birmingham, Bath, Bristol and Cardiff. It is a
lso easily connected to Brighton and Bournemouth. If you wish to enquire about travelling to Gunwharf Quays by train then phone the National Rail Enquiries on 08457-484950. BUS & COACH: Gunwharf Quays is approximately 5 minutes walk away from the Hard Bus Interchange. This interchange allows direct access to the local bus and coach services. A coach drop off point is located at Gunwharf Quays and there is also coach parking nearby at the Historic Dockyard. National Express also run a service direct to this interchange. The number for National Express is 08705 808080. SEA: For those of you living on the Isle of Wight there is the Wightlink FastCat. The Gosport Ferry also links to Gunwharf Quays. The terminals for the Wightlink FastCat and Gosport Ferry are approximately 5 minutes walk away from Gunwharf Quays. If you are arriving by car on the Wightlink FastCat, then the car park for the shopping outlet is just a few minutes away. WHEN IS IT OPEN? ------------------------ The shops are usually open from 10.00 (Sundays from 11.00), there is late night opening until 20.00 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays (April to January). Please note (I know this does not apply to us now but it is not open on Christmas Day). WHAT SHOPS ARE THERE? ----------------------------------- ADIDAS: Sportswear/outdoor wear ANTLER: Luggage, bags - brilliant - last year I bought quite a large Antler suitcase for £35! BAGS ETC: Bags etc. of course! BALLY: One of my favourite shops - as you may know, I am a ?shoe alcoholic? and I love Bally shoes (but can?t really afford the prices on the high street). Good bargains to be got here, especially at sale time. BARBOUR: Sportswear/outdoor wear BEN SHERMAN; Menswear/ladies wear BENETTON: Clothes for children, ladies and gents BODUM FACTORY: Household goods BON BLUE: Baby clothes, children?s clothes - very good bargains
- got a beautiful outfit for a baby girl for £8 which included gorgeous fleecy top, trousers and lovely hat BOOKENDS: Books, lifestyle etc. BOSE: Electrical goods, eg. Stereos (usually very expensive at normal prices) BURBERRY: Menswear, ladies wear and they also have accessories CADBURY: Cheap chocolate goodies CAFÉ COTON: Childrenswear, menswear CARPHONE WAREHOUSE: Phones etc. CALVIN KLEIN: If I remember rightly, I think this shop was closing down when I visited over the Christmas period so, any Calvin Klein fans, I would check with the information number given above as to whether this shop is still there. CLAIRE?S ACCESSORIES: Hair, nails, beauty CLARKS FACTORY OUTLET: Footwear COTTON TRADERS: Clothing for men/women CRABTREE & EVELYN: Soaps, bath stuff etc. CREW: Absolutely LOVE this shop. Clothing for men/women. Usually get this make in chandlery shops and is usually very expensive. Got a gorgeous long sleeved T-shirt for £13 and an absolutely GORGEOUS outdoor summer type top with hood in white/blue for £29 (usual price would be approximately £60). As I say, fantastic shop for us ladies! DANIEL JAMES: Jewellery DESIGN HOUSE (HOME): Household goods DESIGNER SHADES: Sunglasses, accessories DUNE: Footwear ECCO: Footwear EISENEGGER: Menswear, ladies wear, children swear EPISODE: Ladieswear FAT FACE: Surf type clothing for ladies, men, children FRED PERRY: Sportswear and outdoor wear - usually for men FRENCH CONNECTION: Ladies, gents clothing and accessories GAP: This is my daughter?s favourite shop. You can usually get fleecy, hooded tops for the kids (some of them can fit adults - I know - I have one and I am size 16!) usually at 2 for £20 which works out at £10 each - great saving from the normal price. You can get jeans at knock down prices too - I have seen
them for £10 per pair. GIEVES & HAWKES: Mens clothing GUNWHARF NEWS: Newsagent HMV: Cds - music etc. HUSH PUPPIES: Shoes JANE HEATH: Homeware JULIAN GRAVES: Speciality goods KITCH ?N? SYNC: Household goods LAKELAND: Leather clothing and accessories LEVIS: Jeans for men/women etc. MARKS & SPENCER: Reduced M&S goods MEXX: Clothing for women/children MONSOON: Ladies clothing + children + accessories MOUNTAIN WAREHOUSE: Sportswear/outdoor wear NICOLE FARHI: Clothing for women, men + accessories NIKE: Sportswear NITYA: Clothing for women OAKLEY: My future ?son in law??s favourite shop - he got an outdoor jacket for £89 (normal price was £130 in this shop so I would imagine the ?normal? price in the high street to be nearer the £200 mark). He also got a knapsack at half the shop price and paid £35. OASIS: Women?s clothing ONEIDA: Homeware O?NEILL: Recently added shop - absolutely brilliant - I bought a pair of O?Neill boots (fur lined) for £30 and a sweatshirt for my grandson for a tenner. Bought a jacket for my husband for £45. They had trainers for £17-25. ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT PRICES. THIS SHOP IS A MUST. PAUL SMITH: Clothing for men and children THE PERFUME SHOP: Perfume, gift sets etc. PILOT: Ladies clothing RALPH LAUREN: My husband?s favourite shop. Clothes for men/women/children/babies. Very good prices although I thought their perfume range was still expensive. They had some beautiful leather jackets for men for £150+ but very good quality suede/leather. PROFESSIONAL COOKWARE CO: Household goods. SPEEDO: Sportswear/outdoor wear SUITS: Clothing for men/women TED BAKER: Ladieswear, menswear, children?s wear. Knock down prices - especially compared to his shops elsewhere THORNTONS: Chocolates and toffees - greatly reduced prices TOG 24: Outdoor wear TOMMY HILFIGER: Clothes for men/women/children TOYZONE: Toys TRIUMPH: Lingerie VI
LLEROY & BOCH: Houseware WATERFORD WEDGWOOD: Housewear WHITE STUFF: Clothing - men/women WHITTARD OF CHELSEA: Teas, coffee, etc. XS MUSIC: Music, of course! Well, those are the shops but I think I should give a mention to the bars/restaurants: Azzurro - pasta, pizza, seafood Bar 38 - Cosmopolitan bar Bar Risa - Contemporary bar Burger Kind - hamburgers etc. Café Giardina - counter service restaurant Café Nero - coffee shop CHARbar - BBQ restaurant Food Nation - REAL food Ha! Ha! Bar & Canteen - classic food and drink (whatever that means!) Indian Palace - curries etc. La Tasca - Spanish food Levant - Mediterranean food Loch Fyne - seafood Pizza Express - pizzas Presto - pasties etc. Santa Fe - american Starbucks - coffee, cakes (fantastic coffee but expensive) Tallulah?s Wine Bar & Brasserie - continental style food The Old Custom?s House - traditional English pub Tiger Tiger - late night bar/restaurant Tootsies - american-style waterfront restaurant Yellow River Café - Ken Hom?s cooking Watermargin - oriental buffet As well as the above, there are outside ?old fashioned type wagons? situated around Gunwharf Quays selling : Hotdogs (massive ones for £2 each) Toasted marshmallows (+ other varieties) - these are absolutely delicious - expensive £1.30 for ordinary toasted marshmallow kebab, I think the chocolate coated, dipped in nuts, variety was approximately £1.60. Hot, roasted chestnuts Other types of entertainment include: Bowlplex; Health & Fitness club, Holiday Inn Hotel, Grosvenor Casino, Janglers (comedy club) Kyss (health and beauty) Warner Village Cinema (11 screen cinema) If you love shopping, like I do, then will love this offer: if you spend over £150 in one shopping trip then you can claim a Privilege Card which will entitle you to attend the following: Invitation only evening
s Receive event tickets Special car parking concessions Berthing rates for you boat Special offers in the restaurant and shopping outlets If only I had known this at Christmas!!!!! You can also purchase gift vouchers and they also provide concessionary packages for business lunches. There you go, be special and take your client to Gunwharf Quays and clinch that deal!!! Group organisers can receive a £5 gift voucher. The vouchers are available at the Visitor?s Information kiosk which is situated in the Central Square. FACILITIES Gunwharf Quays boasts brilliant facilities. Here is a list of what they provide: Visitors? Centre which is open 7 days a week 24 hour security Safe Child Scheme Telephones Public toilets (these are exceptionally clean - which is something I love to see) + disabled toilets Baby changing facilities Wheelchair access Shopmobility Scheme Escort to car service (this should be good especially for wheelchair users) Parking on site and also nearby ATMs - (so that you can get those bargains!) Taxis To learn more about the above (especially the Shopmobility Scheme) ring the Visitors? Centre on 023 9283 6700. Well, I hope you enjoyed this review and that it was helpful to you. The atmosphere at Gunwharf Quays is excellent and you can have a good, fun day out.