I recently started venturing out further afield just because I enjoy seeing new places. Ashford was the destination that me and a friend had chosen. The main purpose of the trip was to go to Ashford Designer Outlet.
However, when we got there, I realised how lovely the high street was. It all felt quite calm, relaxed, and there was a boutique feel to the place. There were also lots of market stalls which I am a fan of. Having assumed that, aside from the Designer Outlet, there was no indoor retail centre, I was pleasantly surprised when we found one right in the middle of town called County Square Shopping Centre. It definitely wasn't as big as typical shopping centres but the stuff they sold pretty much made up for it. They house numerous high street stores such as Internacionale, New Look, Next etc. But the real beauty of the place was down to the various mini stalls inside that sold all sorts of yummy treats such as freshly popped popcorn, gorgeous cupcakes, Russian sweet treats, baklavas, and so much more. It took us so long to decide on what to buy because there was so much choice.
Another part of County Square that I must mention is a milkshake bar located on the top level, called Chill Time. They do a vast range of milkshakes from the standard banana, to the more adventerous such as Kinder Bueno (yes, they literally put Kinder Bueno in the blender) and banoffee cheesecake.
Opposite County Square is another little shopping place called Park Mall shopping centre. It's less of a shopping centre and more of an outdoor courtyard with a few shops scattered here and there, including quite a large Wilkinsons. I didn't spend too long at Park Mall as it all seemed a little dated, but I did treat myself to a fresh doughnut at the doughnut stall there. But even the size of the doughnut was a little disappointing for what I paid.
Eventually, we made it to Ashford Designer Outlet and I have to say that I was so impressed with it. It was probably that much nicer because it was a sunny day as well. The Designer Outlet is set out in a ring shape, so you can keep walking round and round. Although it's outdoor, the whole ring is sheltered, so you won't get wet when it's raining, and you won't get too burnt if the sun is blazing. There was just such a wonderful atmosphere there. The whole place was very modern, with music playing to help with the whole ambience. For those of you who aren't aware of what an outlet is, it's a shopping place where stores sell discounted/reduced items. There were so many stores there from Ralph Lauren to Claires Accessories to Skechers. There was also a Next Clearance store which caught my eye. Aside from selling discounted stock, they also had cheap stock that we created for the sole purpose of Next Clearance stores. I did end up buying a thing or two from there and I really can not fault the quality, despite the cheaper price. I am very satisfied.
When you start feeling a little hungry, there is a food court there selling foods such as burgers, baguettes etc (although I can't quite remember which companies these were).
Overall, Ashford is definitely a great place to go shopping. There are an abundance of stores, and also such variation when it comes to the atmosphere and feel of the place.
If you like designer goods (who doesn’t?) but you’re not too keen on designer prices (who isn’t?), you’ve got to head to McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Centre in Ashford, Kent. McArthurGlen have several Designer Outlet Centres across Europe, but their centre in Ashford is one of their newest and, being less than an hour from London one of their busiest. Outlet Centres originated in the USA and are out of town centres where chain stores and designer brands off-load past seasons goods at bargain prices. It really is like a permanent sale time. Ashford Designer Outlet Centre has a striking design. The stores are arranged in an oval pattern and a canvas type material suspended on poles covers the walkway. A bit of a cross between a circus big top and the Millennium Dome is the best way to describe it. If you try imagining looking down on this oval shape, at one end is the entry road for cars and at the opposite end a food court and children’s play area, and on either sides are the shops themselves. The centre of the oval is the car park with space for 1,300 cars, and this is part of the beauty of the place – no matter where you park you’re very close to the shops and you start with the nearest shop and simply follow round – no getting lost or losing your friends! So what about the shops? Well there’s a wide range. Clothes come courtesy of Gap, Tommy Hillfiger, Daks, Polo, Levis, Firetrap, Ben Sherman and many others. There’s even the first M&S outlet shop within the centre, though it has to be said it’s not one of the better shops on offer. Other shops include Le Creuset – great cookware, Waterford Wedgewood, Edinburgh Crystal, Bath & Works and Body Shop. When you make a purchase save your receipts. If your daily total is over £100 take them along to the Information Desk in the Food Court and ask for a Plus Card. This gets stamped every time your
spend is over £100 and when that happens four times you get a £20 voucher. For a break from the shopping the Food Court has McDonald’s, Spud-u-like, Harry Ramsden’s and a couple of coffee shops. Basic stuff. Getting to the Designer Outlet Centre is easy. By car, take exit 10 off the M20 and follow the signs. The nearest train station is Ashford International from where there’s a free shuttle bus. Opening hours: Monday – Wednesday 10-6 Thursday 10-8 Friday 10-6 Saturday 9-6 Sunday 11-5 My best buy? The £100 DVD player from Littlewoods Catalogue Outlet. It works perfectly well and came complete – a real bargain. As with all the stores though their stock changes quickly so you never know what you’ll find, but as McArthurGlen say – that’s half the fun!
Ok ok we know you want our money but do we have to splash out the answer is no not at these sites, top names galore Tommy hilfiger, Nike, Addidas, gap, Ralph Lauren, hang on a minute where is the British outlets? is it that we as shoppers buy up all the goods at the time they go to the shops like hot cakes or is it the fact that our British shops hate the idea of us getting a bargain frightened that we will not go into there high street shops again witch is so untrue yes these outlets are great for a bargain but only if you don’t mind getting styles going or gone out of fashion last seasons range, or the colour or size that just sell that little slower .to shop at these sites you can only go in not wanting anything special but be glad to find anything you can and don’t get upset if you cant find what you would like just keep going and rummage a lot there is usually something hiding, go enjoy drink designer coffee spend money and go again.
This is a new factory outlet that has recently opened in Ashford. It is easy to find by car as it is situated just of the M20, or if you travel by train, its next door to Ashford International train station. The shops are set out in a huge circle with the car park in the middle. All the shops are under cover so no need to worry about getting wet. There are at least 50 different shops here selling a wide range of clothing, jewllery and homeware. The big names include Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, Waterford Wedgewood and Lily and Skinner. The great thing about this place is how cheap everything is compared with highstreet prices. Most places boast a 50% saving but you do save at least 30%. I actually managed to buy my daughter a Barbie bike for £30 that is £45 everywhere else. Some of the shops are quite small so there really isnt much choice. If you are looking for an outfit for a special occasion, then I dont think this is the place to look but if you just after some bargins than go and see what they have to offer! The big downside of these shops is as they are small, it is very difficult to get a buggy around so you might be wise to leave the kids at home!