“ Address: Hemel Hempstead / HP1 1DX / Tel: 014 4241 3818 „
The Marlows or Marlowes shopping centre (dependant on where you read) is the main shopping area for the town of Hemel Hempsted. I visit often and yet each time i'm remined of how disaponting it really is.
Shaped like a squared 'C' it's blank faces of generic shops, bad lighting, odd ventilation, and lack of any mobile signal make it less than an appealing place to shop. It's built in the slightly industrial style, leaving high celing areas, where light falls through from the top of the car park, which sadly show the lowness of the cellings elsewhere. It's got a few slightly independant retailers in but often these flit between the smallest of units which all appear to have a high turnover and are very rarely all filled.
The new extention area called 'Riverside' and the pedestrianised highstreet are both testaments to the willpower of making the best of things. The area isn't huge but they have done their best, adding flowers and a slightly interesting bridge to give the flatness some life. Though many of the more well known shops still enhabit their original positions within the main centre, it's showing it's age rapidly, and no lick of paint will pick up this badly designed building.
It's still the nearest place for many to find Argos and M&S and that will keep the life going, but major work is needed if it is ever going to entice any more than local travelers in.
The Marlows Shopping Center
The Marlows shopping Center is situated in the center of Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire and is one of the main shopping centers I tend to go shopping to for both convenience and locality. I would not say that it is one of the best shopping centers by any means, though it hosts a range of over 70 stores and has recently been refurbished on the outside street to add more variety to your shopping trip.
Let me explain further...
The main reasons in which I tend to visit The Marlows more than anything is the convenience of it being the closest to me, and also a range of shops which sell good products for less money than a lot of other shopping centers. Don't get me wrong, there are a whole range of shops ranging from the really expensive to the really cheap and so you are given a great choice in shops and products. One aspect which tends to annoy me about The Marlows, though, is that the shop turnover (as in shops closing and new ones opening in their place) is quite high. On the opposite side, though, there are also a few shops which have closing down sales for months on end and then decide not to close down which gives great opportunity for those bargains!
The main part of The Marlows shopping center is based indoors. There is one main level accessed via many points from the car parks, the high street and the back road.
For food and drink places, please see category below.
I won't list every single shop within the Marlows as there are too many to mention and constantly changing, though here you will find a variety of shops from the well known shops to the smaller shops. Included are shops for clothes (named shops and smaller shops), computer shops, furniture shops, card shops, shoe shops, jewelry shops, sport shops and so much more. Most of the shops within the Marlows are ones you will recognize such as Argos and Wilkinsons and a whole range of prices ensue.
The indoor part of the Marlows is not overly big, though shops are packed in suitably though can get quite crowded at busy times. I have been here on various days, including Christmas, and the atmosphere is average.
The Marlows also spreads out doors into the high street. Recently an added area has been refurbished with more shops and all is pedestrianised. Here you will find a huge range of shops, including the cheaper shops such as TKmax, Pound land and Primart as well as more expensive shops. There are also many banks dotted around both in bank court (situated in the center of the high street) and around the town. Further to the right, you will find more shops, though this part is placed around a non-busy roadway, mainly used by buses and taxis. This is also where you will find the bus stops and the market area, though the market is very small and hardly worth visiting. Slightly further down you will find supermarkets such as Iceland and Asda.
There are many places to eat and drink around this shopping center from various café's to restaurants to pubs. There is one main indoor café in the center of the indoor Marlows as well as approximately three other smaller cafés and coffee bars. Outside in the high street, you will find various restaurants and fast food outlets such as Burger King as well as numerous cafés with a whole variety of food on offer, pubs which host cheap food and drink and quick stop venues such as hot dog stalls and sandwich shops. All these vary in price, though none that I have visited are overly expensive.
There are a limited amount of toilets around the Marlows. The main block is in the center of the indoor part and quite large. Other toilets can be found within cafes and restaurants. Most toilet areas have both disabled toilets and baby changing areas. The toilets which I have visited are always clean and tidy and are inspected regularly.
******Events and Entertainment******
The Marlows hosts various events throughout the year, from free model searches to shop openings. Recently New Look has hosted a treasure hunt to find golden tickets for a chance to win a £35 worth of outfit from their store.
There is also a wide variety of simple entertainment from singers and bands in the high street to the usual Father Christmas décor around the December period. As of yet, though, I have not really seen a great 'Meet father Christmas' part as are in other malls, so I would recommend going elsewhere for this type of event.
There is also a pleasant park opposite the high street with a lovely river and bridges, though to be honest, this is more of a sight rather than anywhere to picnic.
The Marlows main shopping center, both in and outdoors, is open on the following times (Holidays such as Christmas may vary and individual stores also occasionally have their own opening times so contact stores for more details if outside these hours)
Monday - Wednesday and Friday - Saturday (9am - 5.30pm)
Thursday (9am - 7pm Late night shopping)
Sunday (11am - 5pm)
Due to The Marlows being in the heart of Hemel, it is a very convenient and simple center to travel to, whether it is by train, car or bike.
Obviously, there are many other ways to get here, especially if you know the area, though if you are not so aware of the area, the following directions may help you.
Whether you are traveling northbound or southbound, you will need to join the M1 motorway and travel until you reach junction 8 onto the A414 (Hemel Hempstead) and follow the simple signs towards the main town center. At a large roundabout, take the A4146 exit (Leighton Buzzard) and the first turn on the right at the traffic lights. The Marlows is conveniently sign posted from here.
Take the Silverlink Trains on the London Euston / Milton Keynes line. The station is approximately one mile from the town center and buses and taxies are regularly available from the station exit. If choosing to walk from the station, it will take you approximately 20 minutes. Simply follow the road to the right and turn left at the traffic lights, and continue all the way down the road until the end where you simply cross the road in front, and then turn right and you are practically there. Personally I would recommend taxi or bus rather than walk as the main roads become extremely busy.
For timetable information telephone the National Rail Enquiries Line on 08457 484950 (24 hours)
Regular bus services run to and from the town centre with stops close to The Marlowes Centre. For information on bus services, telephone Herts Traveline on 0870 6082608 (7am - 8pm 7 days)
The Town Centre Taxi Rank is located at the north end of The Marlows Centre. Telephone 01442 255000
There are many car parks available in and around The Marlows with plenty of spaces at most times and days. The main two car parks are multi-story and situated within the main inside part of the center. Access can be gained via the back road which leads off to the left of the hill by the magic roundabout or simply follow the signposts from the new and improves shopping road entrance (again off of the roundabout). All car parks are well signposted. Both of these multi-story car parks have approximately 1200 spaces spread on a few floors above the shopping center. One leads down to the south side and the other to the center. The only problem I seem to encounter these days is that some of the floors have been closed off for a few months for reasons I am not sure of, yet even taking this into account, there has not been any time where I could not park.
Car Park opening hours include;
Monday - Wednesday and Friday - Saturday (8am - 7pm)
Thursday (8am - 9pm)
Sunday (10am - 5pm)
You pick up your parking ticket on entering the two car parks and pay at the various ticket machines within the main shopping center. There are free parking all days Sundays and after 5pm on Thursdays. Parking costs start from £1.50 for two hours, expensive in some ways, though average in this area.
There are also spaces (though limited) for both disabled drivers and parent and child shoppers.
There is a shopmobility service run by the volunteer center and is located on the first level of the 'blue' multi-story car park. Here disabled shoppers can have free loan of a wide range of wheelchairs and scooters both manual and battery operated. The service is available Monday to Saturday from 9.30am - 5.00pm. For further information : 01442 259259.
Most shops do also have disabled access though there are still a few which have steps leading into them which is being drawn out as I speak. Any shops on a second or third level (Only Argos and a furniture store inside, though quite a few shops outside have multi-level) have lifts and as far as I have seen, all in good working order.
* Customer Services*
As with all good shopping centers, there is a customer services point which offers aid with any problems from parking tickets to lost property as well as services such as photocopying and faxing. Marlows gift vouchers are also sold here. As far as I have seen, staff members seem helpful, though you always get the odd one!
Marlows address: The Marlows Shopping Center, Hemel Hempstead, HP1 1DX
Telephone: 01442 234577
The Marlows is a shopping center which offers most of what the average shopper requires and is both easy to find and easy to make your way around. Although it gets busy in certain periods, it is well spaced out so you are not tripping over loads of people. If you are looking for bargains, then I would recommend a visit here, though to be honest, if you are thinking of traveling here from a great distance, then I would suggest not, as this shopping mall is not a huge fantastic one and not worth the gallons of petrol money as it is an average mall. I would recommend visiting it if you are not coming from miles away, though, especially around Christmas time.