“ A commercial, residential and leisure development in Belfast, Northern Ireland. „
I have lived in Belfast all of my life and I always use to feel that it was lacking in places that people could hang out in and have fun. The kind of place with nice surroundings, plenty of things on offer and one that does not revolve around alcohol and other less than appealing things. Then they introduced this wonderful shopping complex and that changed. It is so much more than simply a spot to go shopping though. Victoria Square also has loads of lovely eating places to dine in and an Odeon cinema to see the latest movie releases. It quickly became my favorite place to go to. On any day that I had a bit of extra money, I found myself heading to here and now that I am with my wonderful fiancé it is our favorite place to go together. I have had many good nights and days here and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It was a TGI Fridays restaurant in Victoria Square that my fiancé and I went to on our first date, when we got back together. I spent a lovely day in Nando's with my little niece Becky and my sister Stacey. I have celebrated Birthdays, Anniversaries and Christmas's here and there is no place that I would of rather celebrated them in.
I remember when it was in the process of being built being quite excited at the prospect of a place so wonderful being built in Belfast. I was also quite fascinated on my first visit and amazed by how many different shops and restaurant's that there was because half of them I had never even heard of or seen before. I would like to add that Victoria Square is always stunning, but it looks especially beautiful at Christmas. I will now review to the best of my ability the places that we have personally been in enough to have an honest and helpful opinion of.
About the Building
Victoria Square opened on the sixth of March, 2008 and was built more than six years ago by Multi Development UK. Multi Development UK is a leading developer and manager of inner-city retail space in Europe and Turkey. This beautiful building cost quite a great deal of money to make, 400 million pounds to be precise and is one of the most expensive ever to be established in Northern Ireland. Victoria Square is a massive building. It stands at over 800,000 ft² and is home to the largest House of Frazer store that has been opened in the UK. It has an amazing dome that is lit up with lots of beautiful lights and I have only recently noticed a penny pool also. Victoria Square has 98 units, including shops, cafes, bars and the 8 Screen Cinema.
Accessibility and Facilities
Victoria Square has a car park with two levels and 1000 parking It is located close to apartments and is right in the heart of Belfast City Centre. There is a Value Cab within walking distance from Victoria Square, located on Chichester Street. There are plenty of restrooms and easy accessibility for people in wheelchairs to the Cinema, Shops, Restaurants and up and down from the different floors also.
I will begin with my opinion of The Dome as it is one of my favourite parts. The Dome is free to view and is
worth the trip up to do so. You can choose to go up the stairs or the elevator. I have done both, but often opt for the lift due to my disability causing pains in my legs and feet and because I have asthma also. When you get to the top of the dome you will notice that there is a stall with leaflets about attractions and things to do in Belfast. The way it is all lit up is just beautiful, I could stare at it for hours. I remember on that particular visit that Paul and I went up via the stairs. I was that tired by the time I climbed up them all just sitting down on the floor and looking up. I was completely mesmerized by how beautiful it was and the view over Belfast is just amazing. The bottom line is that if you choose to visit Victoria Square The Dome is not to be missed and in my opinion it is especially beautiful at night.
Reasons Why I Like It
The Odeon Cinema in Victoria Square is a magnificent one. They have a selection of Pick N Mix Sweets and a Ben and Jerry's (my favorite part) and you can also queue there to get your tickets and Ice cream at the same time. On our last visit we decided to just go home after dining at Pizza hut because the Cinema was completely packed to the point that we probably would of aged a few years by the time we got our tickets. That is a good thing though, and means people like that particular cinema. It usually is quite busy when we visit. We simply could not be bothered queuing and there was not anything that we genuinely wanted to watch at that particular time anyway. The staff are very friendly! On a particularly memorable visit, we went to see Ted and we decided to go VIP. I ordered an Ice Blast which I expected to be much like a slush puppy. When I ordered it the machine was not working perfectly. The employee who was serving at the time told us to go into the cinema, in case our movie began while we were waiting and about 5 or 10 minutes later bought it in the cinema and gave it to me. Great service!
What I did not count on is that the large Ice Blast is so.... Large. I was handed something that looked like a glass but maybe better described as a very long plastic flute that could of fitted in on the set of Mars Attacks and being weird as I am, this kind of made my night. I wanted to keep the plastic flute it was in but would of felt stupid walking about with it. The seats in VIP were very comfy and cost an extra £1.60 for both of us. Ticket prices for adults at peak times, are between £6.80 and £7 and at the cheapest are between £3 and £3.50 and I think this is quite reasonable
Reasons Why I Do Not Like it
There is only one reason that I do not like it and that is because more than a few times, different members of staff have charged me too many times for one or two items or charged me for more tickets than I actually asked for but I must add that each time I noticed and pointed this out and they were pleasant enough about it and promptly gave me a refund.
The Pizza hut in Victoria Square is the nicest one that we have ever been to. It is by far mine and Paul's favorite place to dine in. The food is always cooked to perfection and there has never been a visit in which we were even slightly disappointed. The servers and waitresses are constantly attentive and I can not think of one thing to sound off about. I was particularly impressed with our last visit as the server did not leave us wanting for anything and before we could even ask for a refill of Pepsi he had already topped our glasses up. The Garlic Prawns and Garlic Mushrooms are exquisite and our favourite Pizza is the BBQ Meat Feast. The atmosphere in this place is so chilled and always welcoming and the restaurant Is always spotless. The menu has options for all tastes and caters to vegetarians also. The menu also has Gluten free options and great deals that make dining at Pizza Hut more affordable. We always get the meal for two and the warm cookie dessert with either toffee or chocolate sauce and ice cream is lovely. The restaurant caters to young and old and there are also restrooms in it and they are always kept nice and clean.
Brief opinions on Other Restaurants
We have been to the McDonalds in Victoria Square and were happy with the meal we each got in it. The people who work in it are pleasant and the food is nice and the place is always kept nice and clean. We can say the same about every restaurant that we have been to in Victoria Square. The politeness, cleanliness and attentiveness in this place raises a standard for other places in Belfast to live up to. We have been to TGI Fridays several times and it holds special memories for me as that was the place my fiancé and I went on our first date, when we got back together. I love how the staff in TGI Fridays go out of the way to make you feel welcome and nothing is too much trouble. They also go all out to celebrate special occasions which is a nice touch.
The alcoholic drinks in TGI Fridays ) similar to most restaurants) are expensive but they are worth It because they taste lovely. If you are planning on going there, I recommend that you bring a good amount of money with you because if you plan on getting more than a few drinks it will cost a quite a bit. Last time I only got one Cocktail and Paul got a beer and on top of our food bill it was around 60 pounds and I expected 50 would more than cover it. Although Paul insisted on starters, which neither of us could eat because we were so stuffed after our burger and chips and this put the price of the bill up a bit and caused the food to go to waste. Nando's is another place I was impressed with after visiting with my Sister and my niece Becky.
Again all of the before mentioned can be said about Nando's. Friendly and attentive staff, great food, nice atmosphere and wide variety of menu choices to suit all tastes. China Buffet King is lovely and the selection of food is wide but Paul jokes about not going back again. They have a wastage fee of £5 and on our first and only visit to the restaurant. I filled up my plate and thought I could eat all of what was on it and could not and then Paul ended up offering to eat it to avoid the fee and left the place feeling very sick. . We have yet to have a bad experience in any of the restaurants that we visited and so I can only give glowing reviews. We visited more restaurants, but I feel I have said enough about the ones I have mentioned because the review is not solely about the restaurants, but Victoria Square itself. Overall the restaurants and staff in them are a credit to the shopping complex. Lastly O'Brien's have the most amazing hot chocolate ever with plenty of Marshmallows on top and is the perfect place to chill out and the seats in it are so comfy!
There are so many places to shop it is hard to decide where. You can purchase gift cards for the ones you love to spend in any of the stores that takes their fancy. My personal favourite's are H & M and River Island. In some stores the prices are ridiculous, but that is my opinion. My view has always been as follows. Why pay £100 quid for something you can get for £5 just because it has a designer label on it? I would possibly cry if I handed over so much money for something just because it has a brand name on it. Out of all of the shops that are listed below, some I have just wandered into, looked at the huge price tags and felt like fainting and almost ran back out like the Grim Reaper was behind me.
H & M have great sales and I visit virtually every time I am in Victoria Square. I think Build a bear is a lovely idea and I bet kids love it. In the few shops that I do frequent the people who work in them are all very pleasant. I have never had to return any items to any of the shops in Victoria Square and so cannot comment on that particular aspect of things. The shops I go to are always busy and this is even as it gets close to closing time. Although sadly at Christmas time, idiotic so called dissident's caused businesses in and around Victoria square to be affected by their stupidity and I was actually too frightened to visit until after Christmas as things had settled down again by then.
List of Shops
H & M, Build a Bear Work Shop, Apple, Art & Hobby, The Carphone Warehouse, Claire's accessories, Coast, 3 Store, Accessorize , All Saints, Crabtree and Evelyn, Calvin Klein, Bank, Dune, Everything Everywhere, Cruise , Exhibit ,Goldsmiths
Hobbs, Guess , Hollister, Fat Face, Fossil, House of Frazer, Hugo Boss , JD Sports
,Kiehl's, 02 , Lunn's, Mamas & Papas, Levi's, Lk Bennet ,Monsoon, Kurt Geiger, Pepe Jeans, Pretty Green , Phase Eight, Pull and Bear, Regis, Remis Uomo, Replay
Shop Mobility, River Island, Reiss, Rituals, Super Dry, USC, Vodafone, Top Shop, Tommy Hilfiger, Ted Baker, TM Lewin, Urban Outfitters
List of Restaurants. Cafes and Bars
China Buffet King, Costa Coffee, Nando's, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, The Kitchen Bar, Chiquito, Frankie & Benny's O'Brien's, Prezzo, TGI Friday's, Wagamama, Cosmo McDonald's Pizza Express, Spurs Steak And Grill, The Ivory Restaurant & Bar
One of the best things about Victoria Square is how it embraces the different seasonal times of the year. At Halloween they had a great stall set up for Halloween outfits and there was so much to choose from. As Valentines day is just over they are giving free love heart sweets with you're meals. They have created a Love Zone running from 14th - 22nd February. The love zone is situated on the Lower Ground Floor and put there to encourage shoppers to relax whilst shopping, share a love seat for a chat, arrange to meet a date or take a pictures etc. This is just some of the events that take place and they add to the magic of the place.
I think that Victoria Square is one of the best things to ever come to Belfast and I will always be a regular visitor. I love the ambience of the place it is always buzzing with people who seem happy and lively. It is a place worth visiting time and time again,
Victoria Square is the newest shopping complex in Belfast. This shopping centre opened on the 6th March 2008, after taking 6 years to complete. It occupies approx 800,000 ft² in the centre of Belfast. It was a boost for a run down area of the city centre, particularly Ann Street which had a lot of empty shops. The centre is over 4 stories, with 2 basement levels for parking and there are a wide variety of shops and restaurants in the centre. There are also 106 apartments within the complex. Over 17 million people visit the centre annually.
The old Victoria centre, its car park and the neighbouring 19 storey Churchill House were all demolished to make way for the new centre. I remember the Victoria Centre as run down and old, so I was excited to see what would emerge from the rubble. I wasn't disappointed. Victoria Square isn't a shopping centre in the traditional sense, as there are no walls or door to close in the centre; it's more covered walkways, very handy for the Northern Ireland climate! It does mean though that it can get very cold in winter, as there's no shelter from the wind.
The centre is easy to get to. With close proximity to the bus and train stations, it is also easily accessed via car. If you don't want to park in the basement car park, parking is available at the Montgomery Street multi-story car park a few streets away or there is limited on street parking close by as well. I wouldn't recommend parking in the basement car park during the day. The car park owners have recently changed the tariffs for parking and last time I was there, it cost me £8 for around 2.5 hours parking, as I only noticed the new tariffs when I was driving in and had already put my card in to pay.
The current prices for the car park are:
Price per 20 minutes £1.00
Per hour after 4 hours £3.00
Maximum 24 hour charge £25.00
Evening rate (7pm - 8am) £4.50
Victoria Square is architecturally very different and a real contrast to most shopping centres which tend to look the same. There is a lot of wood and glass, and everything still looks new. The centre itself is a V shape, with a covered atrium with the viewing dome in the middle. This is also where the escalators and lifts are.
The anchor tenant of the complex is House of Fraser, whose store spans all 4 stories. Within House of Fraser, there is a Jo Malone standalone shop and also a Paperchase. The shops in the centre tend to be on the 'high end' of the high street. Guess, Calvin Klein and Pepe all have shops here, as well as River Island and Topshop. There is also a Build-a Bear workshop for the kids (or adults in my case!). There are 98 shops in the complex and while some have suffered with the economic downturn, most of the shops are let.
There are also a wide variety of restaurants and café's in the complex. Household names such as Frankie and Benny's, TGI Fridays and Wagamama are all located here, as well as some not so well known restaurants such as Cosmo. Cosmo is a buffet style restaurant, with an eclectic mix of Chinese, Indian and Italian cuisine available. It does get very busy at weekends though, where you can wait upwards of an hour to get a table. Upstairs also houses an 8 screen Odeon cinema.
There is also a 35m diameter wide, 45m high viewing dome in the centre, which offers amazing views over Belfast. The viewing dome is free and is open the same opening hours as the shopping centre.
Outside the Victoria Street entrance to the square, the restored Jaffé fountain has price of place. This fountain was a gift to the city from the former Lord Mayor Sir Otto Jaffé in the 1870's. The fountain had originally been in Victoria Street, before being moved to the Botanical Gardens in the 1930's. After careful analysis of the paintwork on the fountain, it was sympathetically restored and placed back in its original location in Victoria Street.
The Opening Hours for the shops are:
Monday - Tuesday 9:30am - 6pm
Wednesday - Friday 9:30am - 9pm
Saturday 9am - 6pm
Sunday 1pm - 6pm
The centre is well worth a visit if you are in the area, and the dome is a must see, so long as you're not afraid of heights (I am, but I usually find I am okay so long as I don't look down, looking across seems to be ok for my brain).
http://www.victoriasquare.com/ for further information
Victoria square is a brilliant attraction for Belfast, ninety percent of times when I go into Belfast I pay Victoria square a visit. I don't buy anything, not really, I couldn't afford it! The prices are very high, There are no 'cheap' shops such as Primark, oh no, it's only house of Fraser, the apple shop, Tommy Hilfiger... any designer shops and you can bet they are located in Victoria square. The only shop I would buy from would be Hollister, because I like the brand, it is expensive but I like it!
Victoria square is split up into 5 levels (including the dome), The underground parking is at the bottom, though this very expensive, the majority of shops are on the second level, a few more shops and places to eat on the third level (including McDonalds!), on the fourth level, all good restaurants. on the second level, right in the middle there is a glass elevator (brings you to ALL levels) and numerous sets of stairs, if you go right up to the very top you will find the fifth level, the dome! The dome is small, from there you can see all over Belfast, it's one of the main attractions of Victoria square.
Victoria square is sheltered, but either ends on the second level (ground floor) there are no door you just walk in. It is dry inside, but obviously can be chilly. At Christmas time Victoria square looks absolutely fabulous! The roof is covered with lights. there are literally hundreds of smallish Christmas trees, and one huge one! The dome is all lit up, it looks look's lovely.
As for the atmosphere, well it's great as Victoria square seems to always be busy!
Victoria Square opened to some critisism a number of years ago. The main gripe? "Why is it outdoors?", people said! Of course, it's not exactly outdoors - as the entire complex is covered over by a roof, but it isn't a conventional mall with an entrance and an exit. No, it's just open to walk through at pretty much anytime.
This has led to other people, including reviewers, calling it a "wind tunnel". While it is not that bad in my opinion, it does suffer from the problem of being cold and windy during Northern Ireland's bleaker days - and because of the climate in these parts - that is sadly all too often.
Besides the climatic considerations, Victoria Square is home to a plethora of shops and to a lesser extent restaurants and cafes.
The prices are notoriously high, and this puts many people off. In truth though, it's probably not too much worse than a regular high street. People just have the perception that it is higher - although of course, in some cases it is!
Other than plenty of (expensive) shops, there are a range of entertainment options. Coffee shops, restaurants and fast food joints exist on the upper floors.
Meanwhile there are plenty of lifts and esculators for relatively easy access.
The actual layout itself can be a little confusing. Figuring out how to get places isn't easy for a first (or even second) time visitor.
There is also a cinema, and a lookout point at the top - from where you are supposed to be able to see all the way over Belfast (although this is usually obscured by the bright blue neon lights that border the glass.
Overall it's an interesting new addition to Belfast City Centre. I don't personally visit it too much, but if I was taking a visitor shopping, it would definitely be my first choice.
Victoria Square Belfast
Victoria Square a new mixed used development located in the centre of Belfast. It opened in 2006 at a cost of around £400 million. The development includes is mainly a retail shopping area but it also includes a number of apartments and some leisure facilities such as a cinemas and restaurants. It's easily reached from all areas of Belfast either by foot, bus, train or car. The centre has 1000 car parking spaces which are available 24 hours a day seven days a week.
Victoria Square has marketed itself as a shopping centre for the more well to do citizens of Belfast and beyond. The tenants tend to represent the higher end of the high street. The anchor tenant for the store is House of Frasier who I am led to believe received a hefty incentive to take up a position in the store. Other tenants include:
* All Saints - Ladies fashion
* Apple Store - Computers and I - pods
* Billabong -surf and clothes
* Build a bear - Toys
* Car phone warehouse - mobiles
* Chilli grill bar (announced this week is closing)
* Coast - fashion
* Costa Coffee - Coffee/ snacks
* Cruise - Footwear /fashion
* Calvin Klein Underwear - fashion
* Crabtree and Evelyn - Health and beauty
* Faith - Footwear
* Firetrap - Footwear and fashion
* French Connection - fashion
* Frankie and Benny's - food/ice cream
* Geox - fashion
* Gerry Weber - ladies fashion
* GameStop - video games
* Hobbs - ladies fashion
* House of Frasier - Fashion/ footwear/ home ware/ jewellery and more
* Kitchen bar - Pub
* La sensa - Food
* Levis - Fashion
* LK Bennet - fashion
* Lunns - Jewellery
* Maggianos - food
* Monsoon - fashion
* Mama and papas - fashion
* Nandos- food (also announced closer this week)
* Odeon - cinema
* Optical express -opticians
A full list of retailers can be found at www.victoriasquare.com
Throughout the troubles the city's and in particular Belfast would have became an almost Ghost Town in the evenings for obvious reasons. This meant that all business and shops would close early and to some extent this legacy has remained particularly amongst retail operators. Until just a year or so ago late night shopping was only available on a Thursday night when shops remained open to 9. There has been attempts to change this for instance now shops are open Monday to Friday to seven o clock in an attempt to make the city centre more vibrant in the evening.
Victoria Square is at the forefront of trying to regenerate the city with its mixture of retail and leisure. Its opening hours are :
Mon - Tue 930am - 700pm
Wed- Fri 930 am - 900pm
Sat 930am - 600pm
Sun 100pm - 600pm
As mentioned before though the car park is opened 24 hour
As a property student at the time of building I was inundated in lectures at how fantastic a development this would be. Externally and from a distance it is very impressive. One of the best features is a large observation dome that dominates the Belfast skyline and can be seen from miles around. At night the lights on the dome proceed through a number of colours from blue to red to green which looks visually stunning.
Internally the layout of the shopping centre is different that most others. It focuses around a multi layered street layout which are linked to the glass dome. I was not impressed by this layout at all. It can be very confusing to follow. In some cases you can see the shop you want to go to but cant see a logical route to get to it. I have a friend who went with a pushchair and said that the shopping centre was a nightmare to navigate with all its multi - levels and a pram.
One end of the centre is open to the elements. This means that the centre is not an indoor shopping experience. The last day I visited was a really warm day. The height of the shops/apartments means that the street level or retail area does not get any sun and with the breeze blowing through it proved to be a very cold experience and I regretted my choice of wearing a T shirt. It was a Wednesday afternoon and many if not all of the shops appeared deserted. House of Frasier reminded me of a recent trip to Turkey because every turn I made I had someone else ask me if I was ok or did I need any help. Obviously not the staffs fault but it was frustrating considering I didn't even want to buy anything.
My other gripe with the shopping centre was the car parking. Once they opened the car park they decided to up the ante with car park prices. This has had a knock on effect in that neighbouring multi storeys have also now raised their prices to at least £2.50 per hour in this area of Belfast. I believe the shopping centre is £3.00 per hour and in these credit crunch times this is just far too much. Perhaps this is reflected by the almost deserted shops on the day of my visit.
Overall Id would recommend the centre to a visitor if only for the viewing platform which is free. Although I have heard on sunny days this is now closed due to the greenhouse effect from the windows causing health and safety fears. There is a decent selection of shops but I found the over eagerness to make a sale off putting. The centre could not have opened at a worse time financially and aiming for a higher spending clientele it has alienated itself from the broader Belfast population and appears to be paying the price. A number of retailers have already cut their losses and left and just this week two restaurants announced they are also shutting up shop. I am not saying that I expect the centre to fail but I do think it has major work to do before the ordinary people of Belfast take it to their hearts.
Thanks for reading.
Victoria Square in Belfast opened with much pomp and ceremony on 6 March 2008. It is a massive commercial, residential and leisure complex right in the city centre of Belfasts. It has transformed the city centre of Belfast, reinvigorated it and brought much needed new shops to Northern Ireland.
The main anchor store is House of Fraser and is the largest store they have opened. It was also the most profitable store on opening. There is over 800,000 square feet of retail space in the centre. In total 39 of the shops were new retailers to Northern Ireland, including House of Fraser, LK Bennett, Geox, Fossil and Build-a-bear Workshop to name but a few (I am not going to fill my article by naming every shop). It was exciting times for Belfast and Northern ireland when the centre opened.
Unfortunately the global economic downturn has had an effect on the centre,a as Hardy Amies and The Pier have gone into administration and the Faith store is also closing. Hopefully the worst is now over, but only time will tell.
There are also a large number of restaurants in the centre, again a large number coming to Northern Ireland for the first time. T.G.I. Fridays , Chili's, Dante and Maggianos are some of the chains that are now resident in the Centre and they seem to be very popular especially at the weekends.
There are also 106 apartments built into the Centre which range in price and also in size. They look very nice, but again, the housing market slump has not helped the sales of these apartments.
The design of the Centre has tried to fuse the modern with the historical. A key element in the development is two covered, multi-level streets linked to the massive glass dome measuring 35 m in diameter. The dome lights up at night and is a focal point in the city's skyline. A public square covered entirely by the glass dome serves as the hub of the entire area and it is always busy during the day with people milling around. The ornate Jaffe Fountain, constructed in the 1870s by former Lord Mayor Otto Jaffe in memory of his father, has been restored to its original location in Victoria Square from it's temporary home in Botanic Gardens, where it was kind of dumped unceremoniously, or so it appeared.
There is also an 8 screen Odeon cnema up beside the restaurants which is handy I am sure for keeping children occupied!
Overall the centre is in my opinion great for Belfast. Some of the shops are a little pricey granted, but it is better to have more shopping options available. - and it gives you more places to go to treat yourself every once in a while!
I am only giving it 4 stars at the moment, to wait and see how many units are occupied at the end of the recession, but I may come back and edit the review and hopefully soon!