Any fashion devotee worth her weight in shoes will know of Bicester Village. It’s the British tourist attraction that’s as popular as Buckingham Palace and as long as the Champs Elysee. And, for the last twenty years, it’s been the place to visit for discounted designer shopping.
Similar to Vegas, but in the grasslands of Oxford, Bicester is a purpose-built world of indulgence. It takes less than hour to get to the quaint-looking outlet from central London's Marylebone station, yet it feels a million miles from the bustle of Oxford Street. Well-manicured cottages boast 130 luxury stores including Gucci, Valentino, Celine, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Burberry and Christian Dior.
Just in time for Christmas, the high-end mall has expanded to open 30 more boutiques, including the likes of Christopher Kane, Roksanda, Orlebar Brown and Philipp Plein. Also, just for the festive season, Charlotte Tilbury is hosting a pop-up, and one of the neat cream cottages has been turned into a scarlet wonderland full of British designers. Featuring the likes of Chinti & Parker sweaters, Tom Dixon ornaments, Luke Edward Hall homeware and Sophie Hulme bags, this space is just a taste of a further expansion due next month that will include a Charlotte Olympia shop.
Though the prospect of Gucci for under £200 is an obvious lure, Bicester offers more than just fashion. Notably, the White Company had one of the longest checkout lines we saw during our more recent visit, and cycling enthusiasts were bustling to see what was on offer at Rapha.
That said, the magic of Bicester isn’t just the discounts, it’s one of the most pleasant shopping experiences you will come across. From the helpful scarlet-clad staff to the train station waiting room that’s fitted with plush sofas and offers free hot drinks, to the clean walkways and varied food options, it’s a pleasure mecca. Stop by the Farmshop, which is an off-shoot of Soho Farmhouse, for a hearty meal, or enjoy roti, noodles, crepes and piadina’s from the village’s niche dining pop-ups.
A day-out credit card swiping at Bicester may cost less than Bond Street, but don't for a second think that it feels like a lesser experience.