Newest Review: ... and of course lots of dressed up Northeners. Apparently, The Trafford Centre also has £5.8 million of marble and granite flooring. The mar... more
All roads lead to the Orient
Trafford Centre (Manchester)
Member Name: Muzzy
Trafford Centre (Manchester)
Date: 18/04/01, updated on 18/04/01 (202 review reads)
Advantages: Pleasant surroundings and lots of choice
Disadvantages: Less character than city centre
We’re not mad about shopping in our family, but when we do go we like to have access to as many nice shops at one go as possible, enjoy a cup of coffee and maybe a meal as well. We live within striking distance of Chester and Manchester, and both are good for shopping trips, but for a good range of clothes and household shopping in pleasant, convenient surroundings I would vote for the Trafford Centre.
The centre is huge – far too big to get round in less than a day – and maps are provided in case you lose your bearings! It’s basically two long wings with Selfridges and the main restaurant area at the middle, with two floors topped by the cinema. It’s beautifully decorated in an ornate style with marble and granite floors, sculptures, and fountains; and whenever I’ve been it’s always been clean and tidy. It’s particularly pretty at Christmas.
Any shopping centre is only as good as the range of shops on offer, and the Trafford Centre has a really good selection. My favourite shop has to be Selfridges (this is the only one outside London), although mainly for window shopping! I particularly love the deli where you can have a meal or a snack of the fabulous produce. They also have a wide range of designer clothes. Other upmarket shops include Wade Smith, Jacques Vert and Monsoon. For more down-to-earth stuff there is a large Debenhams, BhS and lots of Miss Selfridge type shops. Other large stores include WH Smith and Boots, which has a good range of gifts and up-market cosmetics. High street fashion is well represented with, for example, Laura Ashley and Next, both of which also have menswear, childrenswear and home departments. The only major omission was a Marks and Spencer who have just invested in refitting their flagship store in Manchester city centre, but they seem to have reconsidered and are opening a store at the Trafford Centre in summer 2001. The shops are open from 10 am to 9 pm M
onday to Friday, 9 am to 7 pm on Saturday, and 11 am to 5 pm on Sunday.
The Trafford Centre includes the “Orient Restaurant and Entertainment City”. There is a wide range of cafes & restaurants, including an American style food hall – burgers, pasta, etc., and worldwide cuisine covering Italian, Chinese, Indian, French, English pub food and fish & chips. The highlight has to be the Rainforest Café – again the only one outside London. It’s quite expensive but great a great environment for a celebratory meal out. If you haven’t tried a Rainforest Café, well, the theme is a jungle safari, you sit among animatronic jungle animals and watch out for the rainstorm! The centre of the Entertainment City is the 20-screen UCI cinema at the very top of the Trafford Centre’s dome. The Orient stays open late into the evening past shop closing time, but check the advice on the web page for where to park if you’re stopping late, as access to some parts of the car park is difficult after the shops close.
Access and information
Talking of the car park – this is on a suitable scale for the size of the centre. I’ve never had a problem finding a space but remember where you left the car! This reflects the fact that most customers travel by car, and as you would expect there are big queues at peak periods. The centre is well signposted from junctions 9 and 10 of the M60 Manchester Orbital Motorway (formerly M63 if like me you’re taking a while to adjust). Access by public transport isn’t so good, although if you’re using the Metrolink there is now a bus link from Stretford. This is apparently an 11 minute journey running regularly through the day till late at night. I wonder whether it really works this well!
If you bring children with you, there is a play area and creche for under-8s. I haven’t needed to use this, because although the leg work can be tir
ing for small children, I find the best way is to keep stopping for ice creams and drinks (I also get one for my daughter). The centre also seems to be trying to make life easier for people with physical and sensory disabilities, with information on large screens and via induction loop or interpreter.
The Trafford Centre website is pretty good. It includes full details of all stores, opening times, access, and news. Much of this is also included on the guides you can pick up at the centre. When I went recently after a long gap I found they had updated the layout of these to make it very easy to find the store or types of product you’re after.
I’m sometimes still nostalgic for Manchester city centre. The Trafford Centre doesn’t have the atmosphere of the city or range of individual shops (especially book shops – I love the huge Waterstones). However, especially now that M&S are opening in the Trafford (although it can’t be a patch on the huge store in the city centre) most shops I want are to be found there. We try to avoid the worst of the crowds and traffic by going in the late afternoon, and I like the fact that you know what time everything is open to and exactly what’s there. Now all I need is a good pair of walking shoes!