Known for its first class University which in turn churns out some of the most intelligent and it’s got to be said well dressed of souls, Oxford was top of my list for high end shopping…
Chic Outlet Shopping… no disappointment here! Bicester Village is exactly how it is labelled offering an assortment of high end fashion stores from Gucci to Vivienne Westwood; with the added bonus of almost 60% discount in all stores. Honestly, I have never visited a factory outlet like it. Built to resemble that of a quaint English Village, each store pleasantly neighbours the other, each performing the same task to provide luxury shopping with a little charm, sophistication and to leave a little room in your wallet at the end of the day.
As you leisurely wander through the streets, even those with a tight budget would be content just window shopping and it’s not just the mannequin’s you will be admiring; the retail staff are not only welcoming and attentive they could have stepped straight from the catwalks.
If you are looking for a gift which will take your partners breath away, Bicester Village is the ideal haven, for unique jewellery pieces I would recommend Links of London, for shoes no other than Jimmy Choo and for comfortable yet stylish home living The White Company.
Oh and one more thing…parking is free. Hurrah!
Fortunately for my boyfriend his two favourite stores were amongst the collection; Polo Ralph Lauren and Lacoste perfect for me to begin a spot of Christmas gift buying! (But Sshhh it’s all a surprise for the 25th). I was also able to find a pre-Xmas buy for myself; a grey checked blazer from Diesel, perfect over a sheer shirt for wear in the office or to accompany a cable knit jumper on days out in the chilly winter months and for only £45 down from £150!
As for my friend Ali, after spotting the For All Man Kind store she was almost ready to give in to temptation, luckily nothing caught her eye allowing her a little extra spends for her birthday getaway to the Dominican Republic.
There are two options for lunching at Bicester the quick stop, almost food-on-the-go at onsite cafes or a leisurely mid-afternoon dine at one of the restaurants. We opted for Prêt a Manger to waste no time before embarking on more shopping.
We also visited Starbucks for a well deserved coffee fix and I could not resist the Crème Brûlée Macchiato, and yes it did taste as good as it sounds! Outside each dining area is an outdoor seating area, although I suspect rarely used in the winter months, during the summer they prove ideal for chatting with friends and reflecting on your purchases.
Hands free Shopping! Bicester Village offer a unique service which allows you to browse each store without juggling your bags. The assistant will pack all your purchases and store them at the visitors centre ready for your collection upon leaving. Could shopping get any easier?
The Lambert Arms at Ashton Rowant is an original coaching inn which has been lovingly refurbished and now boasts 9 traditional bedrooms in the original building with a further 35 spacious rooms in the Mews Wing.
A warm welcome is always encouraging and was surely not missed when we arrived at the stunning rural setting of the Lambert Arms. The open fire places and cosy individual seating areas in the reception were in-keeping with the relaxed atmosphere and friendly service; which had us intrigued to explore the rest of the hotel. With a back drop of the Chiltern Hills and direct links to the M40 it is in the perfect location for a visit to Oxford.
After a hard days shopping, we had certainly worked up an appetite. Luckily for us we had a three course meal to look forward to. As soon as we entered the restaurant we already knew what we were going to choose. On one table two friends were dipping fresh breads into balsamic oils and on another I spotted a couple tucking into a hearty main of a homemade beef burger with red chutney on the side; along with cheesy Carbonara pasta with a slice of garlic bread. Even the strategically placed specials board with an array of well described dishes couldn’t tempt us away.
For dessert, no other than the Dark Chocolate Mousse with a dollop of homemade vanilla ice cream. This summed up my whole dining experience, informal and comforting yet not lacking quality or fine detail. All washed down with a glass of bubbly our evening was complete.
AND SO TO BED…
Our room was spacious and pleasantly decorated in the style of a chic country cottage. The bathrooms are particularly large with rain showers hanging over a deep bath. With our bellies full and our shopping urges truly met there was nothing left to do but to sink into the soft mattresses and turn out the light.
RISE AND SHINE
The next morning we took full advantage of the drinks facilities in the room as we sipped on Twinning’s tea and dunked the nicely provided selection of biscuits. The continental breakfast was a buffet of locally sourced produce with rashes of bacon, chunky sausages and scrambled eggs to create a traditional full English or a selection of cereals, yogurts, fruits and breads for a lighter start to the day.
GET A LITTLE EXTRA…
The VIP discount card! This gives you a further 10% OFF in all stores including food and drink. We were invited to use this service as part of the Shopping Break Package with The Lambert Arms. The perfect girly weekend away!
By Jade Griffin
The Lambert Arms- rates from £59 including continental breakfast. To book call 0843 357 5534/01844 351496 or alternatively email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information please visit www.bespokehotels.com/lambertarms