My memories of the old Whiteley outlet village was quiet, cold, windy and a bit boring. I only visited there a few times and it wasn’t very appealing.
Well how different can the new Whiteley shopping centre be! It is bright, modern, clean and a fantastic choice of shops.
I was invited along to have sneak preview of the shopping centre along with tales of a twin mum to see how it worked for families and to offer my feedback. I was really looking forward to it opening anyway so jumped at the idea of a tour around and to check out the stores.
I loved the way the centre felt, the building walls are in a lovely wooden slatted style and full height glass fronts. There are trees dotted all around (birds nesting in one already!) and lovely sized flat paved walk ways. There isn’t any steps to deal with, apart from 1 set at the Tesco end but there is a ramp provided. It is all eco friendly with the rainwater being saved and drained underneath to water the trees, there is recyling bins provided throughout and solar panels on the roofs.
It doesn’t feel squashed in and I can imagine even when it is busy you will still have space to walk around easily. All shop doors seem to be automactic which is great when you have hands full of shopping or pushchairs.
There are great sized benches dotted around for you to sit down, some with bronzed animals on! Keep an eye out as they are hidden in places around the centre! Although lots of them are at childrens height, so I can see lots of little people fussing them and being very interested in playing with them! There is also a few small play tables near these benches for kids to fiddle with.
Now being a mum of 3 children the facilites are very important to me! Try getting in a small cubicle with 2/3 kids, its very hard!! Not a problem at Whiteley, they have provided supersized cubicles for both men and women which in each have solid walls and door, a baby changing pull down table, toilet (which flushed by its self!!!) wash basin and hand dryers. It is big enough to get a pushchair in (or 2/3 kids in my case!) Perfect!
The parking is free for the first 3 hours then is £1 for each hour after for 2 hours extra. They do not charge after 6pm either, so if you want to stay for longer then arrive at 3pm and you can stay until closing for free! They are in talks with local bus companies/council and would love to provide a bus service there if the demand is there, but this is something they are working on.
They have provided a great range of food resturants, Prezzo, Frankie and Bennys, Harvester, CHiMiCHANGA to name a few.
If you are wanting something a little bit more special to eat there is Montagu’s cafe bar and bistro, this is a completly new place and the menu has a very tempting range of food on offer. They are going for a slightly upmarket style of food and a open kitchen style area so you can see your food being cooked by the chef (he mentioned he worked with Jamie Oliver at some point too!) but they are going to be offering a better quailty of food for your money. It would be a lovely place to go along to in the evening and have a really nice meal.
There is also a good range of coffee shops and places like Subway, M&S Cafe and Fablous Bakers for more smaller food options.
We visited Dean’s Diner for lunch, WOW this place is great! It is a 60′s style american diner with a retro jukebox and funky red and white stripey seating! There is a very cool feeling to this place and it is very new to me as we have not had somewhere like this local before.
They do the most AMAZING Nutella milkshake (see below!) They brought out a bit of everything for us to try, the food was great and fab taste to everything. We had onions rings with dips, cheese burger….
Burger with bacon, potato wedges and pulled beef wrap.They added chips, sweet potato chips and a glazed chicken too
My kids are going to love Deans Diner, even if we just end up going in there for one of their fab milkshakes, I know I will be going back with the family!!
We went around and visited a few of the shops and had a chat with the owners and managers, my favourite shop has to be Little Soles. This is one of the independant shops that they have taken on. Little Soles is a children’s shoe and accessories shop and is owned by 2 local mums with 5 young children between them. You feel you are getting a really good quailty product and time spent with you to make sure you have the best shoes fitted for your child.
Also in this side of the centre is an area which they have also filled with independant shops, this includes a green grocers, bakery, sweets and treats and an xpress beauticans. This is where they have a smaller car park that you can only park in for an hour so you should be able to park outside and nip in and get your fruit and veg or bread. Boots is going to have a late night pharmancy which will be handy if you need medicines when your normal pharmacies are shut.
I think that the new Whiteley shopping centre is a great place to visit with family, friends, evenings out or just to have a mooch around on your own. There is a great range of shops that are very useful and good for your everyday needs.
It is opening on Thursday 23rd May at 11am with lots of fun things happening! This opening event is lasting for 4 days over the bank holiday weekend. I would check out their website for opening offers www.whiteleyshopping.co.uk/offers
* I would like to thank Whiteley marketing for giving me the oppotunity to come along and visit and Deans Diner for lunch.