Family fun at the London Designer Outlet
Have you heard of the London Designer Outlet? No I hadn’t either until I was first told about it and invited along to try it out. So I would say it’s one of West London’s best kept secrets, except that’s a cliche and you don’t expect to find cliches on my blog do you? (Hmmmm! I actually use cliches all the time, so this is a bit of a fib.)
And if you’re in London over this Easter weekend they have a special weekend of activities, music etc. So it’s a good time to visit.
Nestled in the shadow of Wembley stadium, it’s a collection of 50 outlet style shops (ie bargain prices!) from big names such as M&S, Gap, H&M and – my personal favourite – the Doc Marten shop.
Can you guess which of the boots above I bought? Answer at the end of the post! I will let you know that they were reduced to £40 from £120 though!
I think of it like going shopping when there’s a permanent sale on. And as someone who never likes to buy chainstore clothes at full price, this is something that makes me smile! It’s also a great place to pick up bargain cookware too by the way – but on my trip I was focused on grabbing some bits for our holiday wardrobe. Chiswick Daddy, who does all the cooking in our house, is obsessed by the idea of buying a stone frying pan (no I don’t get it either) and is going to go back to find one.
More than just a place to shop
So far so good, but I was invited along to show that it’s not just a place to grab some bargains, but it’s also a great place for a family day out too, with a multiscreen Cineworld on site, 24 places to eat, and a play area for kids to burn off energy when they’ve had too much shopping.
So our day had three key components:
- Doing some pre-holiday shopping for our beach holiday.
- Having a slap up lunch at Zizzi
- Going to Cineworld to see Boss Baby, which Chiswick Boy was inordinately excited about. Look here he is – literally bounding with delight 🙂
First on our list was the M&S Outlet store and we spent well over an hour in there. I know, I know – this doesn’t sound like the most exciting shop in the world. But I happen to be a massive M&S aficionado. The clothes are always reliably sized, everything is arranged sensibly, and I knew it would be a place where all three of us could find something holiday-ish. I’m a big fan of an M&S sale, and an outlet store is a shop where everything is on sale!
I should say that I’m not a big shopper in general. And I’m not usually the person who goes out to buy a special holiday wardrobe. I’m more likely to be the person hastily buying swimming trunks for the boy on the beach on the first day of holidays because I’ve realised he’s grown out of all the pairs I’ve brought with me.
But it was really lovely to spend a day doing all the buying in advance.
I used Instagram stories to garner opinions on whether I should buy this sun hat for £7 (reduced from £15)
I did buy it – and I also bought this one, as both were reduced to £7 from £15:
Yes, you can probably guess that this shot wasn’t taken in the M&S outlet store but in situ on the beach in Tenerife, for the purpose it was intended!
I also bought a really great navy t-shirt material dress for slinging over a swim suit. And I’ve worn this almost every day of my holiday. I just can’t find a nice photo of me in it – as most of my photos are taken by me of other people! So trust me – and at £9 it was an utter bargain.
For Chiswick Boy I was delighted to find swimming shorts reduced to half price – £6 a pop – which meant I was able to stock up. While we’ve been on holiday it’s been a Godsend having enough swimming shorts to put dry ones on every morning, with spares in the beach bag – while the wet ones dry on the balcony.
Now you can find nice stock shots of swimming trunks on the M&S website, so here are some shots of how trunks should really look – covered with sand, salt and tears of fun!
And the final components of our holiday wardrobe were Chiswick Daddy’s dazzling white shorts – displayed here at the mini golf in Los Cristianos, Tenerife. Yes Chiswick Boy is wearing a long sleeved top over his head because I forgot his hat that day. Parenting fail! But if you look closely you can see he’s wearing some more of his M&S trunks – this time with jellyfish on.
A little white lie
You know how I said I don’t use cliches on my blog? Well I fibbed – because I’m about to use another one. And that, for my family at least, it’s hard to get Chiswick Daddy and Chiswick Boy excited about going into lots of shops. So having the carrot dangling of a nice lunch and a trip to the pictures really helped.
That’s not my biggest confession though. Chiswick Daddy was itching to go and sit with a drink after we’d hit the M&S outlet store. I think this was a little unfair as he was the one that ended up with the most clothes and spent the most time in the changing rooms! Getting not just beach wear but some new tan cords for work. So I may have told one tiny fib. I told him that because this was a blogging assignment I had to visit at least 10 clothes shops. He swallowed it hook, line and sinker. Ooops. You’ll have to devise your own strategies. Or maybe just let your family go and sit in a cafe while you carry on shopping!
The London Designer Outlet is all about celebrating Iconic London and some of the brands that sum up the London lifestyle.
I think I summed up everything that makes up British style in two of my purchases. An M&S knicker pack – and some Doc Martens.
What’s more iconic than an M&S Knicker pack. Come on guys – am I the only one who’s addicted to M&S knicker packs? I can’t think of anything more quintessentially British.
And then there were the Doc Martens. I desperately wanted to buy Chiswick Boy and me matching DMs but couldn’t get any in the same colour. So instead I got Chiswick Boy these bright green ones (they’re actually called slime green and were a limited edition left over from Halloween with the last few pairs in the DM outlet shop, so we were really lucky!)
The above is my attempt at an arty album cover shot. But if you want to see the green DMs properly, here they are on the plane to Tenerife:
And for me? Well I got myself the bright gold ones! Did you guess?
Lunch at Zizzi
After some shopping we headed for a slap up lunch at Zizzi. By this time Chiswick Boy was flagging and ready for some pizza.
Even though they were packed with match day crowds, the service was quick, and the staff were really friendly. The food was gorgeous. In fact Chiswick Daddy called the manager over specifically to say how great his pizza was.
If there’s calamari available for a starter I will always order it. I had a glass of white wine, but as Chiswick Daddy was driving he stuck to coke. (Don’t drink and drive people. And I’m not talking about sticking to limits – don’t drink a drop.)
I think that going to the cinema at the end of the day was a really great treat for Chiswick Boy after a day of shopping. The film was much better than I was expecting – and we all laughed through it.
Sometimes we drive to the Cineworld in Feltham but I actually think that this one in Wembley is nearer – so we will definitely be visiting again.
Getting to the London Designer Outlet – some tips and tricks
We decided to drive to the outlet. I was warned in advance that I would be visiting on a match day so it would be busy, but I didn’t really pay any attention. We got stuck in a bit of match traffic and when I got to the car parks I was a little worried that we wouldn’t actually be able to park.
But in fact there was still plenty of room for us. Be warned – if you want to park on a match day it has special match day parking prices of over £30 – unless you buy £40 worth of goods from the shops. If you’re visiting on a shopping mission then this is not difficult at all. So I’d say don’t let match day put you off, although be prepared for singing, boisterous pre-match crowds. And crowded restaurants.
My other tip would be leave some time for the kids to play in the play area. In fact, what I loved about our trip was that at the end of the day, kids dressed in both of the opposing team strips were playing together joyfully. If only as grown ups we could all get on as well.
Please note that this is a collaborative post with the London Designer Outlet. For full transparency that means our meal, trip to the cinema and some shopping vouchers were gifted to us so that I could write about it on my blog and share our experiences with you. And I also received some remuneration. Which I spent on green and gold DMs, M&S knickers and a load of beach wear. Such is life! Opinions, words and photos are all my own of course.