“ City streets, markets, shopping malls, large retail parks... „
I'm proud to say that I am a Colcestrian, was born in the town and still live within the surrounding area. Over the years I have seen many changes to the place, some good, many bad, but it is still home to me!
The town has a lot to offer the many tourists that it attracts. It has an amazing history, with stories of battles fought, lost and won. One of the main landmarks is the castle, which stand just inside the aptly named Castle Park, which was built by the Normans on the site of the Roman temple of Claudius, which is now a museum and well worth a visit!
Shoppers will delight in the many different types of shops that Colchester has to offer, from the big high street stores to the little independant shops, there is something for everyone.
The main high street has plenty of smaller shops, as well as shops like Marks and Spencer and the wonderful Williams and Griffin depatment store, which is probably my favourite shop to visit. It sells all sorts of really good quality things, from toys and shoes, to make-up and furniture. At Christmas time W&G always has a lovely window display with animated animals and a snow machine that sends soft flakes over the shoppers outside. Kids will love that!
Once off the high street you come to the paved shopping presinct. There are several big-named stores, such as BHS, Top Shop, New Look, River Island, Boots, WH Smith and HMV, amongst others, so again, plenty for everyone. Colchester Library is also here and is a useful place to seek information you may need.
As you make your way round the Saxon Trinity Church you come to Culver Street, where there are yet more small shops of all kinds, plus several coffee shops. This leads you to the town square, where you can take a break and sit at a table or visit the department stores that surround it.
Sadly, in recent months the economic crisis has seen several smaller independant shops, and indeed some larger ones such as Woolworths, Virgin Megastore and Colchester Cooperative Society department store, having to close their doors. It is a sad reflection of the times we now live in and there are many empty shops in the town centre. Hopefully once things pick up again traders will open them up again. Who knows!
There are plenty of eateries in Colchester, from small cafés to larger restaurants and the many pubs and bars. There is a good Pizzahut, Sloppy Joe's American Diner and MacDonalds in the high street.
If you want a break from the hubbub of the town centre, do take a walk round the Castle Park. It really is a wonderful place and very peaceful, with a lovely play area for children, fabulous gardens and walks, and of course the castle. Holly Trees museum also stands in the grounds, so you can see Colchester's vast history for yourself.
Since Colchester is Britain's oldest recorded market town, I do feel I should mention the market, which runs on Fridays and Saturdays along Culver Street. There are many different stalls that sell a variety of lovely goods, from fruit and vegetables to clothes and handbags. There are bargains galore, so well worth a look!
For evening entertainment there is the Odeon cinema in Head Street, several nightclubs in the high street and plenty of bars and pubs to choose from. Colchester can get a bit rowdy sometimes though, especially at the weekend, so do consider this if you are thinking of visiting.
Transport-wise, there is a good bus service that runs to most areas of the town, plus two railway stations, so it is easy to get about the town. There are also several car-parks, but they can be rather expensive, though the council have recently reviewed it's pricing so that you don't pay so much for short-stays.
So if you are thinking of coming to Colchester I think you'll find there is a lot on offer, so worth a visit.
I should first reiterate that I do not live in Colchester, but did spend three years there as a student at the University of Essex, so I have a good idea of the geography of the town and such. Although the University area is quite the bubble and means you don't have to move off campus if you don't want to, there's a great lot to do in town with a fair degree of ease.
From the University and the surrounding areas of Wivenhoe, there are great bus services to the town center, taking only about 10-15 minutes to get there. Although not as stratified and set out as my native Chelmsford, it is a fine town that's a lot more densely-packed, and it's hard to get bored. I generally get off the bus at the Odeon cinema in the middle of town, which is surrounded by tonnes of shops; there's a Nando's right next to it, as well as, once you turn right, an epic high street that has KFC, loads of clothes shops, a few nice pubs (including one which has live music a few nights a week), and a great rank of bus services along the street.
If you work your way through the brick labyrinth of alleys, you can come across even more shops in a sort of self-contained unit, including Gamestation, GAME and HMV. My local Chelmsford doesn't have a GameStation so this ticks a few boxes for the town. Also, not far away from the cinema (in the opposite direction of the high street) is a Lidl store, which offers extremely cheap food with a superb bus service running just opposite.
This is a town that has well designed transport for students who won't have cars and don't want to lug their shopping on a walk home. It is a bit messy and sprawling but you get used to it quite quickly.
Having lived in Clacton for 18 years and Colchester for two years of my life, I feel I have gained a fairly accurate representation of Colchester Town Centre as a shopping venue.
Clacton shops are very disappointing, always have been, so I've always visited Colchester town to spend my pennies as there is a much wider variety.
The thing I always loved about Colchester is that there is a nice amount of each type of shop: music, film, clothes, department/homelife stores, DIY stores, etc. Unfortunately in the past year, due to the "credit crunch"/economic downturn, quite a few of these handy shops have closed down, such as Woolworths and Virgin Megastores.
Without big stores like these, I feel the shopping centre busyness did dwindle a bit, but lets hope that when things improve, this leaves room for lots of local business to take the town by storm!
Despite a few of these shops closing, there are still plenty of shops in Colchester.
Myself, I am interested in fashion heavily. So, to suit my needs, I can easily shop in Topshop, River Island, New Look and Dorothy Perkins. These are all medium sized stores, with plenty of choice. Topshop is generally suited towards the younger female market, River Island is fashion couture at high street prices and aimed towards teens upwards, Dorothy Perkins tends to be more classic and basic, and I find a lot of older women tend to head here, and New Look is aimed at a wide demographic, though tend to cater mostly for young people, especially with their 9-15s kids section (though my mum shops in here so, as I said, suitable for everyone!).
For the men who are after clothes there's quite a nice range too, with Topman, Burtons, and River Island. Topman and River Island are aimed at a fairly young demographic, I'd say under 30s, with Burtons, similar to Dorothy Ps, selling more classic clothes aimed at everyone.
There are also other shops which sell clothes, including big places such as BHS, Debenhams and Marks & Spencers. All these stores contain a variety of clothes and nice, friendly staff.
If you're after some alternative clothes, there's also Era, which tends to sell classic logo tees and plenty of 'goth' type clothes for a different look. They do some fantastic black lacy skirts and pretty dresses in here, and for the men they sell some cool tshirts. There's a local shop called Pink Zip for women, that also sells some really trendy but alternative dresses, and even some prom-like gowns for really dressy/formal occasions.
One of my favorite clothes shops is Animal, containing mostly summer wear and surf gear, full of board shorts, logo tees, cool hats and accessories. They also stock winter bits, like trendy coats and jeans. This shop tends to be quite expensive (I brought a bikini from here for £30 and a hoodie for £65!) but they have some really gorgeous clothes, for men and women, that really are worth the price for the quality you're getting. This shop also sells some wicked skate shoes.
For the music side of things, unfortunately the market has gone down a bit since Virgin disappeared into nowhere. The only other major competitor of Virgin was HMV, and whilst HMV is still standing, because there isn't anywhere else really that specialises in DVDs/Music/Games, they feel they can put their prices up to whatever they want, so you tend to spend over the odds for a DVD or album!
HMV contains quite a wide variety of products, but it was nicer having more choice of a different shop as quite often if I found a DVD/CD was expensive in one, I'd find it cheaper in the other.
There used to be some local music stores in Colchester but unfortunately they have all closed down now.
For musical instruments, I'd say there's a lot more choice. On the main High Street there is Mann's Music, which is fairly overpriced but has some nice guitars, basses, drum kits and keyboards in. They also sell woodwind and brass instruments which are all on display in the shop. Whilst this shop has a fair amount of variety, I find the staff aren't too helpful and generally stand around chatting rather than asking if you need help. I think in a shop like this with so much variety and because of the price of what they are selling, you need a guide to help you make your choice.
On the outskirts of the town centre is a mainly guitar and piano shop, Allegro music. The staff in here are friendly and prices fairly good, though not the best. This shop seems to have quite a few local customers, and often I've seen the actor who played Denzel from Only Fools and Horses in there having a strum on a guitar, as he only lives in Clacton! Even further into the outskirts of Colchester town there is a guitar shop called Trevor Durrants. This is a fairly famous shop throughout Colchester and I know a lot of my friends shop here. The staff are nice and helpful, though their instruments can be a bit pricey.
Back to the town, there is also a lovely little instrument shop called Music Warehouse. I have purchased all my guitars from here as they are friendly, reasonably-priced and, my favorite part, they are willing to haggle! The shop has a cool alternative edge to it, attracting a cast of assorted customers, and there is a nice atmosphere to go with the rock/metal background music that's played in there.
I already mentioned that HMV sells DVDs, and it seems the only other places you can buy these are WH Smiths which is in the town centre, and Blockbusters on the outskirts. DVDs do seem to be quite expensive in both all these places. If you're in Colchester looking for some cheap, though possibly not brand new, DVDs, I recommend going to Cash Converters, situated at the end of the High Street. They sell a variety of different second-hand stuff, including CDs and instruments, but most of the shop is full of DVDs. The prices on these start at £3, which is a complete bargain considering some of the films in there are relatively new. It's a great shop for having a hunt for bargains, sort of like a charity shop, but with a classier edge. There's a Cash Converters in Ipswich too, which is much bigger with more choice. The staff are always friendly and there's always an opportunity to haggle, as well as the fact you can sell your own stuff at same time!
For all yout stationary needs, you can revel in the beauty that is Paperchase (for more information please see my review about Paperchase :D!). This shop has the friendly staff, the wickedly patterned notebooks, cards and pens, and a beautiful atmoshere of creativity.
For your DIY, lifestyle and home products, I highly recommend BHS, Robert Dyas and Williams & Griffins. Robert Dyas tends to sell more DIY than anything, but generally is cheap and has some bargains. The other two are more expensive, but sell loads of classy bits and pieces that are perfect for birthday/Christmas presents, or even to treat your home. In particular, 'Willy Gs' (for short!) has an excellent selection of kitchenware and children's toys, perfect for pressies!
A bit out of town centre you can find on Tollgate Business Park and near Asda lots of bed, bath and general furniture stores, full of choice and variety. The Range is particularly excellent at selling reasonably-priced homeware and garden goods, I really recommend going here.
Cafes and Bars are absolutely everywhere in Colchester, for the nightlife I recommend the Purple Dog bar and the V Bar, both containing alternative rock music and a great atmosphere, and for the day, the Slug and Lettuce or the George Hotel on the High Street are both classy and sophisticated for a nice coffee and cake.
There's an Odeon cinema right in the town centre, slightly overpriced, but for every now and then is a great place to visit. There are quite a few screens, with the main one being massive! The seats are comfy and the staff take care of you.
The only other thing I can think of mentioning (as it is something I am highly interested in) are the tattoo parlours. If, on a day out, you fancy getting a tattoo on your body, I believe Flaming Gun is the BEST tattoo studio in the area. The staff are really friendly and their tattoos are incredible. The only problem is there is generally a long waiting list. Cosmic Tattoos are more likely to fit you in on that day or in the following week, and they are also really talented folk. Another tattoo studio is Inkworkx, but I find this place was fairly overpriced and not altogether very talented artists, though I've only had one tattoo done here so maybe that was just a fluke!
Colchester town overall is very nice, the high street is bustling and full of bars and shops, and quite a few of the back streets are cobbled and old fashioned. Right near the town centre is the famous Colchester Castle and the surrounding greenery and fields, which also have a boating lake with ducks and some beautiful flower beds, also scattered with benches so you can sit down and appreciate the surroundings.
There's loads of stuff to do in Colchester, and most of it is in the town centre, so you can either take your car and park it in one of the many car parks (fairly expensive like an other multi-storey car parks, so be prepared!) or you can get a train right into the town centre so you don't have to worry about traffic.
Overall, a great place to go for a shopping spree, full of variety and choice!
I must agree with this. There is always something for everyone's taste in Colchester. The shops suit all budgets, from bargain shops to designer shops (such as Turner's on Crouch Street and Williams & Griffin on the High Street). I can't help but feel that there could be more in Colchester as it still feels quite empty! I also would have thought that there would be more shops as Colchester attracts a lot of tourists as it is Britain's Oldest Recorded Town. Shops you can find in Colchester are: Bay Trading, West Wear, Co-Op, JJB, Zanzibar, BHS, Miss Selfridge, Topshop, Topman, Accessorize, Eisenegger, Barrats, All:Sports, New Look, Boots, River Island, Tie Rack, Shoe Express, Priceless Shoes, Superdrug, Dorothy Perkins, Moss, Burtons, Marks & Spencers, WHSmith, H&M, Virgin Megastore, Debenhams (including Topshop, Dot P's, Warehouse, Faith, Pineapple, Wallis, Principles, Matthew Williams, John Rocha, Jasper Conran), Morgan, TKMaxx, Woolworths, GAP, The Gadget Shop, Ann Summers, Williams & Griffin (for all ages), Oasis, Waterstone's, French Connection, Ice, Spangle, Karen Millen, Lush, Swag Shops, Wilkinson, Poundland, Savers, Clarks, Next, JD Sports, Fat Face, CBS, Blacks, Fibre, Monsoon, Hoax, FreeSpirit, Claire's Accessories, HSamuel...to name but a few! I am very pleased to live nearby the town that has (almost) everything you could need!
I live in Clacton and it hasn't got the best selection of shops and so I tend to go up the road to Colchester to go shopping, especially clothes shopping. It has such a good range of stores with new ones opening up all the time and on a saturday you can always get some great stuff at the market. The Colchester town station and bus station is about a minutes walk before you get to any shops. There is such a good selection and are always offering bargains. The streets are very clean and well laid out and its easy to find your way around. They have shops ranging from Boots to Next and Virgin Megastore to a new Gap store which is soon to open (and I'm really looking forward to that). The shops are fashionable and trendy and there are great restaurants and cafes for when you want to eat. If your in town, go shopping.