People always laugh when they discover that considering how close to Oxford I’ve lived for well over thirty years, that until my son was born eight years ago, I’d rarely ever visited or county town. Since my son arrived on the scene we visited the numerous museums countless times but until recently I really haven’t considered it much of a destination for shopping. The introduction of a local park and ride bus service and improved rail service has seen me going into the city more times in the last year, than ever before. I’ve also spent a number of visits now exploring the new Westgate Oxford.
You may recall that I wrote about the John Lewis store that would be opening as part of the new redevelopment of the Westgate shopping centre. I’d been lucky enough to see the store before all the merchandising was put in place, and again on the Friday before opening and the transformation was amazing. I also got to see the new shopping centre that it faced onto, coming to life and I couldn’t wait to see what the whole complex would look like.
Exploring the new Westgate Oxford couldn’t be easier, it’s set right in the heart of the city in Castle Street and is easily accessible by bus and train. with 800,000 sq feet of retail space for a range of brands, rooftop terraces and a five screen cinema, it’s a centre with a lot to offer. The centre opened during October half term and I couldn’t visit at the time as it was also my husband’s birthday. He’s not one for a bit of retail therapy. So once the kids were back at school and he’d returned to work, I’d arranged to explore with a couple of friends.
One of the things that had struck me right from my first visit to John Lewis back in September last year, was the open plan feel that was clearly going to feature in the Westgate design. Sometimes large shopping centres can feel really claustrophobic, but you really don’t get that feeling with the Westgate Oxford at all.
Set over three floors, even the enclosed elements of the Westgate Oxford feel light and airy on cold drab autumns days. I’ve enjoyed exploring the new Westgate Oxford three times over the last three months, with friends and latterly with my son.
Whilst he enjoyed looking round Smiggle, I’ve relished in having Joules, Seasalt and White Stuff right next door to each other. There’s really something for everyone to be found when exploring the new Westgate Oxford, from Hugo Boss and Tommy Hilfiger through to Primark, River Island and Next, Superdry to Uniqlo. I know I’ll also be found wandering the shelves in Blackwell’s bookstore in the months ahead, and jewellery lovers are also well catered for with Ernest Jones and Goldsmiths.
John Lewis has long been a favourite of mine, and finally having a store close to home is just great. Set over three floors, the store has all the brands you’d normally expect to find as well as the likes of Boden, Kuoni and Charlotte Tilbury. They also have their own in-house Opticians service, Nail bar and three different eateries, including the rooftop KuPP restaurant, which I’ve now visited a couple of times. If you like Scandinavian food, I can definitely recommend it.
If you’re hungry or thirsty then exploring the new Westgate Oxford will help solve both of those issues. The Westgate Social is home to a range of international dining options which I’m looking forward to sampling in the months ahead. From the burito’s in Benito’s Hat to Ned’s Noodle Bar, there are lots of tasty options to explore. Restaurants and eateries within the centre include the Lebanese delights of Comptoir Libanais, Indian cuisine with Cinnamon Kitchen through to Nando’s, Costa Coffee and the Breakfast Club. I’ve also been reliably informed by a number of sources that The Alchemist and their rooftop bar, offer the most amazing cocktails.
I’d been provided with a Westgate gift card as part of my review experience, which arrived in time for me to bag a few bargains in the post-Christmas sales after a trip to the Panto at the Oxford Playhouse with my son. He quite enjoyed being my fashion stylist for the day. The gift card can be purchased on-line or directly from the Guest Experience Pod within the centre itself. Not all of the retailers and eateries within the Westgate Oxford centre are currently included within the scheme, and a full list is shown on the website. But the vast majority are, and I had no issues on my visit.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve spent time exploring the new Westgate Oxford a few times now, and I think the area is a welcome addition to Oxford and the surrounding area. You may well find me back there later this week too.
disclosure: I received a Westgate gift card to enable me to complete this review, but my thoughts as always remain my own honest opinions.