It was a sunny Sunday and we sent #TeamCoco UK travel writer Rachel McAlley on an adventure to experience ‘Shop&Stay’ with Bicester Village in Oxfordshire.
The journey wasn’t the best due to train delays, station changes, and general train line weekend works, so I would recommend visiting Bicester Village during the week as it’s unlikely there will be works taking place Monday to Friday, however aside from the train issues the day was beautiful, the sun was shining, the weather was hot, and I was heading to Oxfordshire to visit Bicester Village, a designer outlet just on the outskirts of Oxford.
The Bicester Village outlet has it’s own train station, complete with excellent customer service suite, where they were happy to answer all questions about return train times, luggage drop off, hands free shopping, café and restaurant bookings, and anything else related to Bicester Village.
I meandered down the winding walkway between the manicured trees and into what was a rather gorgeous outdoor shopping mall, not dissimilar to a US outdoor mall I had recently visited in Florida. Bicester Village was quite breathtaking in its appearance, with top-hat and tails wearing guest liaison officers, grand signposts offering location directions, and plenty of added greenery and foliage to make the village welcoming.
The stores, all designer, and all very busy, were filled with weekend shoppers out to enjoy the sunshine and the excellent discounts on offer at Bicester Village. From the multi-national designer brands to the smaller British designer brands, there were plenty to choose from; in fact Bicester Village boasts over 160 stores to shop at!
The reason for my visit was to experience their Shop&Stay, which for me included a day to shop at my own leisure, hands free shopping, a VIP card, lunch at Café Wolseley, and then an evening at either an Oxford or London partner hotel. I opted for one of their London partnered hotels, which was No Ten Manchester Street Hotel.
After a short while shopping at Bicester Village it was time to sit down and relax over a spot of lunch at Café Wolseley. I requested a quiet location, so the Café Wolseley team took me through to their Salon and Café Wolseley Shop, away from the hustle and bustle of the main restaurant and outdoor terrace, both of which were exceptionally busy.
I ordered a starter prawn and avocado cocktail (£12.25) with a side of sourdough baguette and lescure butter (£2.75), main course of pea and ricotta ravioli (£15.50), and dessert was lemon tart. The definite standout dish for me was the lemon tart (£4.75), with its perfectly thin and buttery pastry and its mouth watering tarty lemon filling.
It was then time to collect my shopping and luggage from the customer service suite at the train station, where I was met by the exceptionally wonderful Jorge who kindly helped me with my luggage. Sadly, the train wasn’t running and a replacement coach was in place, this added a considerable amount of time onto my travel, however once in London it was time to check in to No Ten Manchester Street.
Just a short walk from Marylebone train station was No Ten Manchester Street, a quaint boutique hotel with just 44 rooms, it’s location is close to Oxford Street for shopping, Baker Street for tubes, and central to Marylebone for a number of museums and also Regent’s Park.
I was met with an excellent welcome, the offer of an ice cold drink, and the friendliest check-in team, where my luggage was whisked away and delivered to my room ready for my arrival. Check-in was quick, no-hassle, and everything I needed after a very long day on trains and coaches.
My room was a beautifully presented courtyard room on the ground floor, one of just four in the hotel, offering a private heated terrace (which came in handy as it started to rain that evening, and the heat of the daytime sun was soon replaced with a chill in the air), an exceptionally comfy bed, dainty bathroom, and spacious bedroom.
Dinner was offered in the hotel restaurant Dieci, serving modern Italian food. I took the opportunity to try the fresh mozzarella, Parma ham and bruschetta starter (£16.50), followed by black squid ink salmon and mascarpone filled tortelloni (£20), and a simple dessert of chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream (£10), then it was time to retire to that very comfy bed. The standout dish from Dieci was the starter of 24-month aged Parma ham and buffalo mozzarella with toasted bruschetta – this could have easily fed two people as it was such a large starter.
Back in the room, my head hit the pillow and I didn’t even have chance to turn the TV on as I was out for the count!
After an early morning shower I opted to take breakfast in the hotel restaurant, where I indulged in Eggs Florentine, a large glass of apple juice, and a peppermint tea, before it was time to pack my suitcase and head home to Yorkshire.
To find out more about the Bicester Village Shop&Stay package, visit the Bicester Village website.