I’m totally out of my element with this post, and no doubt it will be reflected in my review. However, as I usually just see Ashford Designer Outlet from afar, passing it on my way to London by train, I thought it was high time I take a closer look. So, here we go, outlet shopping with a self-confessed snob. Hang on, it’s going to be a bumpy ride…
First of all: it’s huge, which means a lot of walking (but the outlet is wheelchair-friendly, so accessible for disabled shoppers, too)… Second: if you’re not used to outlet shopping (that would be me), you may not get much out of it. And third: some shops are OK, some totally disappointing (Clarks and Marks and Spencer come to mind here).
What to look for?
You can find most of your usual high street brands here, but I found the selection a bit limited. In some cases, I also got a sense that the quality of the merchandise was not what I’ve come to expect from the brand (the Clarks outlet in particular was a huge disappointment in this respect). Also, you may find that your size is not available… Probably that is to be expected, though, when it comes to outlet shopping…
I would definitely go to the Barbour shop again, even though this time my size was not available. And there were quite a few shops selling luggage and sunglasses, and even chocolate.
And for lunch?
There are several restaurants. I would avoid the food court, though, unless you’re happy with the usual unhealthy fast food options. For those looking for a more nutritionally balanced lunch, there are a few coffee shops and a Wagamama scattered among the shops.
And what did I buy there?
Well, as I said, I’m not a seasoned outlet shopper, so I was a bit out of my depth as to what to look for. I did, however, have a ‘shopping list’ of things I wanted to find. And it worked about as well as it usually does when I go shopping with such a list, which is, not at all…
So, here’s what I bought: a t-shirt and a cardigan (yes, one of these was on my list…)
Ashford Designer Outlet is about 37 minutes’ train ride from London (trains from St. Pancras: take any train stopping at Ashford International Rail Station. There are also trains from e.g. Charing Cross, London Bridge and Victoria). The Designer Outlet is a 5-8 minute walk from Ashford International Rail Station, and the route is clearly marked with signs.
How do you feel about outlet shopping? Any tips?