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A great shopping experience
Westfield Shopping Centre (London)
Member Name: KLockwood75
Westfield Shopping Centre (London)
Advantages: Lots of shops, lots of space, a pleasant place to shop
Disadvantages: Expensive parking, too fashion dominated
Westfield Shopping Centre in White City, West London opened at the end of October 2008. I had been waiting for its opening with great anticipation as it is relatively near my home, and easily accessible on public transport, even with a toddler in tow. I managed to last a whole three days after opening before the temptation to check it out got too much for me, and since then I have shopped there on multiple occasions, mostly with my toddler but also just with my husband.
Westfield is served by three tube stations - White City and Shepherd's Bush on the Central Line and Wood Lane (which is a new station created especially to serve the shopping centre) on the Hammersmith and City Lane. Only Wood Lane has step-free access. There is also a new bus station at the site, and it is served by overground trains connecting with the National Rail network at Willesden Junction in North London and Clapham Junction in South London. Parking is plentiful but relatively expensive, starting from £2 for up to one hour.
Westfield is anchored by four major stores - House of Fraser, Debenhams, Marks and Spencer and Next. There is also a large Waitrose. The anchor stores are spacious and well-laid out, making them very pleasant to shop in. M&S also has a very large food section. There are 265 stores overall, and 16 of these are international stores making their first appearance in the UK. The Village area of the mall is an exclusive, high-end shopping destination featuring the likes of Prada, Tiffany, Mulberry and De Beers. The remainder of the centre has a combination of familiar names from the UK high street such as Top Shop, New Look, Office, Monsoon and Zara and mid-priced international brands. I feel that the mix of stores is good, although it is very fashion-dominated so if you're not interested in shopping for clothes and cosmetics, you might be better going elsewhere. I like the way that they have grouped stores together by type - for example, on the lower level there are a range of stores aimed at shoppers with children including Early Learning Centre, The Entertainer and Pumpkin Patch, whereas upstairs there is a run of Home stores including Habitat, Dwell, The White Company and Zara Home.
Eating and Drinking
One of the best things about Westfield is the range of restaurants. Outside the main centre is an area called the Southern Terrace which has a good selection of restaurants. So far, we have eaten in The Gourmet Burger Company, Wagamama and The Meat and Wine Co, all of which have been great. I would particularly recommend the Meat and Wine Co. which has fabulous steaks and the longest wine list I have ever seen! Inside, there is a Nandos, a Pizza Express and another gourmet burger restaurant. The food court type area is called The Balcony and this is well worth a visit - rather than the chains we would normally expect in a shopping centre food court, there are all kinds of international cuisine on offer including Sushi, Indian, Thai and freshly made crepes. In addition, there are the usual cafes / coffee shops scattered around the centre so it's always easy to get something to eat and drink.
The Centre is well-designed and has plenty of WC / Baby Change facilities located around it. They also offer valet parking, hands-free shopping and home delivery if you've bought too much to carry it home! One of the best things as the mother of a car-obsessed toddler is that you can swap your buggy for a push-along car (or bus if you've got two children) at the Concierge desk - this service is free and is a great way of making shopping more fun for your toddlers.
I think Westfield is a great addition to the London shopping scene. For me personally, it is great to have a large shopping centre which is easily accessible on public transport with everything all in one place. I do believe that a John Lewis store would be a great addition (although I can't see where there would be space for one now), and possibly a Mothercare to sell baby / children's essentials, but apart from that it is great. It's definitely kept us entertained through the winter when we've wanted to stay out of the cold and it's a nice place to browse even if you're trying hard not to spend too much money and are really just window-shopping. It's good exercise too, my legs always ache after a day's shopping! The whole place feels really light and spacious, even on busier days and some of the interior architecture is spectacular, especially the chandeliers and glass-fronted stores in the Village. I would definitely recommend trying it out if you haven't been already.
Summary: My new shopping mecca - I love it