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Westfield London - Come Worship at the Temple of Retail
Westfield Shopping Centre (London)
Member Name: rosebud2001
Westfield Shopping Centre (London)
Date: 04/03/09, updated on 15/06/09 (1870 review reads)
Advantages: Almost everything you want under one roof, excellent public transport links
Disadvantages: The crowds...peak periods are a nightmare
In the 14 years I lived there I saw a lot of changes and a lot of proposed changes, one of which was a shopping centre in Shepherds Bush. We lived in an area which was only a short stroll from the land mooted for this centre and were going to be affected by this centre so as a result I was aware of its existence almost from conception.
Over the years progress was slow - I saw the Vanderbilt Club demolished (a place made famous because Princess Diana played tennis there) and a local hostelry vanish. By the time I moved from London in 2004 it seemed to me that only some foundations and a new road for the builders had been completed and I wondered when it would ever be finished.
Well Westfield London finally opened at the end of October 2008, along with some huge public transport changes in the area and having now visited this retail behemoth, I am full of awe at the finished product.
Westfield is like nothing London has ever seen before. Sure there are huge retail malls at Lakeside and Bluewater, but they aren't IN London. This is entirely new for Greater London - and to be specific, inner London.
I have seen few shopping malls on the scale of Westfield - the only one that even comes close that I have visited within the UK is the Trafford Centre - but this one is more like the Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas - a mixture of high street names and designer brands, albeit with less parking spaces. There are over 260 stores to be found here.
I got an idea of the size of the place when I realised you could get off the Central Line at Shepherds Bush and walk through the mall to the other end and come out just a short stroll from the next tube station on the line at White City. Yes - it's that big.
This is a mall where public transport is king - it is home to a new bus station, and two tube stations - one of which is completely new. There are parking facilities for 4,500 vehicles but this is a mall where you are positively encouraged to take the bus - parking isn't free!
I arrived on the Hammersmith & City line, using the new station at Wood Lane. This is just a short stroll to Westfield and as soon as you enter you are hit by the sheer size of the place.
The main retail area is on two levels with an atrium level on the ground floor. Both areas are huge - there are four anchor stores in Debenhams, House of Fraser, Next and Marks and Spencer but you are surrounded by great swathes of stores on either level as you try to flit between them. There is also The Village area which is where I can but window shop - it is home to designer brands such as Burberry, Tiffany, Gucci and Prada, with Missoni and Valentino due to open soon.
I have to say it's a great idea keeping all these stores together - it means you know where to head for if you are a designer freak, or where to avoid if, like me, this stuff is out of your league. I suspect this might be the place to go if you are hoping to spot the odd celebrity too!
There are few high street names missing from this place - Primark and BHS are absent, but not really missed. However you will find H&M, Top Shop, Monsoon, Evans, Jane Norman, Oasis, Top Shop, Zara, Gap, Disney Store, Boots, Superdrug, Waitrose, HMV, Game and Habitat.
But that's just a drop in the ocean. There's also Timberland, Ugg, Crocs, The North Face, Uniqlo, LK Bennett, Aldo, La Senza....you need to visit Westfield or the website to appreciate just how many stores there are.
It is relatively easy to navigate - if you pick up a mall guide. There are electronic mall guides dotted around the place but you really need to have the map to carry around with you as I would imagine it would take several visits to become really familiar with the place.
So there are more shops than I have seen under one roof in quite some time but what about dining? Well once again the sheer number of places here is incredible - there are cafes dotted around but there are dedicated dining areas in "the Balcony" and the "Southern Terrace" areas. The choice is incredible - you can visit Burger King or the Gourmet Burger Kitchen or try Pizza Express, Wagawama, EAT, The Meat & Wine Company - there is food here for all tastes and all budgets.
If you want to take something home to eat there is the food court at Marks & Spencer and a lovely new Waitrose supermarket.
The Terrace area is open in the evenings once the stores shut so you could, if you wanted, shop right up till the stores closed, have a late dinner and then head home!
When I visited it was half-term and Nintendo had set up stands to enable children (and adults!) to try various games out on the DS and Wii consoles. CBBC were also there, allowing children to have a go at being TV stars and being given a DVD of their three minutes of fame. My daughter did this and thoroughly enjoyed herself!
My advice if you want to visit however is to get there early. Arrive for the stores opening at 10.00 am and you can enjoy the place in relative peace and quiet. By the time midday hits the place is starting to get busy and wait till 2.00 pm and its positively heaving. My sister-in-law told me she tried to go Christmas shopping one Sunday and could barely move due to the crowds!
Westfield is open seven days a week and on Monday to Wednesday its open from 10.00 am to 9.00 pm, Thursdays and Fridays its open from 10.00 am to 10.00 pm, Saturdays 9.00 am to 9.00 pm and Sundays 12.00 pm to 6.00 pm. Restaurants in the Southern Terrace are open until midnight Monday to Saturday and 11.00 pm on Sundays.
To get there, you can use the Central Line to Shepherds Bush or White City or the Hammersmith & City Line to Wood Lane. There is a major bus station at Westfield enabling links all over London and there is also a rail station at Shepherds Bush which links Clapham Junction and Willesden Junction to stations beyond both north and south.
As already stated, parking is available, but not free. Given how heavy traffic is around Shepherds Bush Green and particularly on the West Cross Route from the Westway, I would advise using the tube whenever possible - the car park is approached from the West Cross Route adding to congestion in an already busy area. Should you be insistent upon driving car park rates vary from £2.00 for up to an hour (how can you come here and only spend an hour?!) to £7.80 for 4 hours to £24.50 for 10 to 24 hours. Valet parking is also available, and obviously more expensive - £10 in addition to your parking costs.
Criticisms are minor - however there are only two banks here (Nat West and HBOS) so I can only imagine the queues for cash machines at busy times. My advice is to ensure you have all the cash you need or your debit/credit card!
I found the toilets a bit confusing too - the doors are floor to ceiling and instead of formica are made from varnished wood. Its not always obvious if the cubicles are occupied or not. I also found a Family Room - which is a brilliant idea for families with frazzled kids - closed and not in service. Given the centre only opened 4 months prior to my visit, this surprised me.
In conclusion however I would say to anyone who is planning a trip to London anytime soon and who loves shopping - visit Westfield! You have everything you want under one roof in a reasonably accessible part of town. I can't see it replacing Oxford Street in the shopping stakes in the capital but I am sure it must be giving it a good run for its money.
Summary: If you love shopping come to Westfield!