In the two months that I was in London last summer, I actually went to the Bicester Village Shopping Outlet three times -twice by car with my cousin sister and once alone in the train! In this post on the Village, I have everything covered from my experience - how to get there, what to wear, where to eat and of course all the great brands you can shop from. I personally prefer to shop at outlets, thanks to all the great deals on high-end luxury brands, and if you choose the time right, it can also be very quiet and peaceful so that you can really enjoy shopping!
1. Getting to the Bicester Village
It was my first Saturday in London, when I casually mentioned my desire for a Burberry jacket to my cousin sister that set the course of events for the day. In half an hour, like two excited children, we were on the road driving to Bicester Village! It took us about two hours to get there and then a few minutes before we finally found a parking spot. Parking is plenty and if you don't find a spot right in front of the village, there is an adjoining parking lot that connects to the Village.
Getting to the Bicester Village by train is quite convenient and easy. From the underground station near my cousin's house, I used my Oyster Card (the travel card for London) to take the Chiltern Railways to London Marylebone and arrived there in 10 minutes. At the Marylebone Station, I bought a return off peak day-ticket to Bicester Village for GBP24 from the ticket machine near the ticket office with my credit card. It's a good idea to try these machines once in a while, especially when there are long queues before the ticket office and you can't wait to get to the Village! I found the ticket-machines intimidating at first, but soon discovered they were not all that complicated to use, and actually worked and helped me save some precious time! The Marylebone station is very well connected to the Bicester Village with two trains per hour to the Village and journey time from 46 minutes. In order to be more organized, you might want to get a ticket online the day before you plan to go there. Having some time on hand at the station, I got myself a soya cappuciono topped with chocolate powder and a delicious hot buttery almond croissant to go!
Once you arrive at the Village, you can follow the signs at the station to go to the Village which is only a few minutes walk from the station.
I haven't tried the shuttle service to the outlet but a friend told me that you get an additional 10% discount at a lot of brands at the Village with your bus ticket.
2. VAT Refund
The best part about shopping at the Village is that you can get your tax refund right there at the outlet. However, the sad part is that the queue is usually very long and you are already exhausted enough so that you don't want to stand in the line, even if it means getting back a couple of hundred pounds in cash!
3. What to wear
Dressing right for your shopping day is very important as you want to wear something that requires the minimum effort to change every time you want to try out a new outfit. I usually prefer to wear a pull-in/pull-out dress with flip flops that make it easy to change-in and change-out of outfits. It also helps economize time. Makeup should be minimal as you don't want to leave make-up marks on the outfits you are trying.
In the picture, I am wearing a black Eileen Fisher jersey tank dress with Birkenstock slippers (that you can't actually see in the picture), with a cross-body bag so that I can be 'hands free' and focused on shopping!
4. Best time to visit
The outlet is not so crowded during weekdays, but on weekends it's flooded with tourists and shoppers unless you decide to go between 10a.m. and 12 noon or after 5:30p.m.
From Burberry, Gucci, Prada, Tod's and Fendi to Polo Ralph Lauren, you will find almost all of the world's best luxury brands there.
One of my favorite brands at the village is Karen Millen. I love their jackets and dresses - they fit amazing! During sale seasons, I have picked up dresses from there for less than GBP 70, otherwise priced between GBP 200- GBP 300.
6. Where to eat
I like eating at Pret A Manger because it is not expensive, the food is fresh and the energy is vibrant. I crush on their soya cappucios and pecan slices! I was the last customer of the day at Pret and this nice man at the counter offered me a free drink...P.S. Isn't he cute?:)