Newest Review: ... 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 wa... more
It was worth a try but could have been so much better.
Victoria Square (Belfast)
Member Name: Ghumphrey
Victoria Square (Belfast)
Advantages: Observation dome. Its free and looks well with great views.
Disadvantages: Parking, layout, cold all year round to name a few
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.
Summary: Worth visiting for the dome