Grazia Escapes: Bicester Village And Soho Farmhouse, Oxfordshire

The luxury shopping destination famed for its discounts has so much more to offer than just a day of retail therapy

Bicester Village

by Rebecca Cope |
Published on

Exactly 46 minutes after leaving London Marylebone, we’ve arrived in Bicester Village – the UK’s most famous designer mall. Stepping off the train, we’re immediately greeted by what can only be described as The Nicest Train Station In The UK, with a plush ‘Guest Services’ centre offering comfy sofa seating (no cold bottoms here), phone charging points, free wifi and a very posh left luggage facility run by a liveried gentleman. Welcome to Bicester Village indeed.

Home to more than 130 boutiques and with big expansion plans for the next year, Bicester is rightly thought of as one of the best luxury shopping destinations in the UK thanks to its unrivalled discounts – there aren’t many places in the world where you can get Prada, Gucci, Celine, Givenchy and Balenciaga for up to 60% off, after all (it’s also the UK’s ONLY standalone Givenchy store – the Kardashians would be proud). What’s more, if you still can’t afford the designer slashed price-tags (neither can we) then there are also several high-end high-street stores here too; we spent a large proportion of our time in Maje, Sandro and Reiss, and came away with more than one bargain.

Bicester Village

All of this shopping works up an appetite, but thankfully, there are plenty of places to eat. We recommend trying Farmshop, the new restaurant from Soho House, which serves the homely, comforting British fair the brand is known for in a large, country pub-esque space. The spit-roasted chicken was a popular option, served with mountains of coleslaw and fries, but the salads are great, too – we enjoyed the aubergine, mint and avocado.

It would be tempting to get the train back home after a day’s shopping, but we’d encourage you to make a night of it, or even a weekend of it, too. After all, it’s not just the discounts that are drawing people to Bicester Village – it’s the surrounding area as well. Set in the beautiful countryside of Oxfordshire, it’s the perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. After a hard day’s shopping, we headed to nearby Soho Farmhouse, the plush country property owned by the Soho House group.

As you would expect from the famously chic members-club, there was real attention to detail and superlative service, right from the second you arrived. Driving up to the gatehouse, you are checked in to the hotel by one of the jovial receptionists, who even poured us a glass of white wine. We were then taken on a tour of the massive property via 4x4, with our cabin host pointing out the outdoor heated pool and spa area, the boating lake, the Electric Cinema, stables and main reception with restaurants, deli and shops – it’s easy to see how you could make a weekend out of a stay here.

Living up to all of the pictures you’ve seen on Instagram – there were personalised bicycles, outdoor bathtubs and a milk float that delivers cocktails – Soho Farmhouse really is the perfect place to stay after a day at Bicester Village, complementing its VIP vibe (indeed, we spotted Grazia favourite Stephen Mangan at dinner in the main restaurant) and offering the chance to extend your trip to the area with a plethora of activities to indulge in. You might even fancy a return trip to the Village, just in case you’ve still been thinking about that bargain that got away…

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