Considering I don't live too far from the designer outlet I haven't actually visited all that often.
When I have, I have come to the conclusion that finding my way round ie if I want to get across to the Colosseum part of the area where the cinema and bowling are located, is about as straightforward as finding Elvis on the moon.
Let's face it, the entire retail shopping area was and is, designed for cars. there's hundreds of them all over the place as there are vast amounts of space dedicated to car parks.
Many of the shops are way beyond my usual spending budget, and when I have been here it's usually owing to the fact that I ve already been in the vicinity while watching a film at the cinema nearby.
There are plenty of places to eat, there are some areas dedicated to play for children.
There is a big sainsburys supermarket and the usual Maccies and KFC,which pleased my son when we went.
But my sense of direction was wayward, and I managed to find myself lost when trying to prise my way out of the place. I felt like I was going round in circles when passing some luxury beauty store for the second time...and I also felt like we had spent around 6 hours there instead of the actual solitary hour it was.
I prfer to shop in Ellesmere port town centre itself, in spite of the fact that it looks like Beirut on a bad day.
Living a 10 minute drive away from cheshire oaks, I have worked part-time in a few shops there and done a lot of shopping!!!! Cheshire Oaks has certainly improved from when it was first built but the brands that are moving in are becoming more and more exclusive to the high end market which is great is you can afford them as you get good prices (for the brand) and less teens hanging around. Cheshire Oaks does spoil you for choice certainly in terms of fashion and food and with the colosseum on the other side with popular restaurants, cinema, boots and M&S it's easy to see the attraction. I do think though if your looking for super bargains you will be looking in warehouse and claire's accessories (high street names and quality), however there are often cases where you can pick up great bargains in the bigger named stores. I got a cardigan from Hobbs for £20 which was a silk cotton and cashmere blend. It was beautiful and soft and an absolute bargain!!!! I would be cautious if your coming from far away as it is a gamble unless you fit into a 'super small or large clothes size as even in sale season, if your not interested in clothes but looking for other things, or you live close by, it is worth popping down every once in a while for a nice meal and some good deals.
Cheshire Oaks is one of my favourite days out for shopping. It's only about an hour's drive from where I live and offers something a bit different. As it's a designer outlet the stores sell items cheaper and you can often pick up a bargain, this isn't the kind of place to visit if you've got something in mind that you particularly want to buy though so bare this in mind.
It's easy to find, located off junction 10 on the M53 and is a short distance from Chester and Liverpool. The parking is completely free which is a huge bonus and there's loads of it so you won't struggle to find a parking spot.
The shops are laid out in a circle round the car parks with shops on both the left and right and most of it is under a cover so if it rains your day won't be ruined. There's a huge selection of shops from women's and men's clothing, accessories, cooking shops and confectionary. There are expensive designer shops such as Radley and Armani as well as high-street stores such as Next, Gap and Animal so there's something for everyone. A full list of shops can be found here www.mcarthurglen.com/uk.
Food and Drink
There is also a wide selection of food places, there's cheap, fast food places such as Spud U Like and MacDonald's as well as sit down restaurants like Pizza Express and Wagamamas and a few cafes. There's also a few food stands located round the place.
There are plenty of toilets dotted round and cashpoints as well as information booths. There is a large play park located next to the big M&S outlet store which is also right next to a café where you can keep an eye on your children from.
Cheshire Oaks makes a great alternative for a shopping trip to high streets and shopping centres and I thoroughly enjoy looking round the shops every time I visit. Make sure you take plenty of money and spend your time routing for the bargains.
Cheshire Oaks outlet has a lot of stores selling designer brands and other brands that you would normally see on the high street. They offer goods that are (on the whole) cheaper in price. They sell a range of things that are/have been on sale previously in their standalone stores and goods that are specially made for outlet stores.
Getting There and Opening Times
It's located just off junction 10 of the M53 near Ellesmere Port. It is very easy to get to via the motorways, although when coming off the motorway it is very easy to end up in the wrong lane if it's somewhere new to you. Keep an eye on the lanes as it's not signposted as well as it could be. Current opening hours are Monday to Friday from 10am until 8pm, Saturday from 9am until 7pm and Sunday from 10am (11am for bigger stores) until 5pm. On bank holidays it's open from 9am until 6pm.
There's lots of parking available, which is a good job as it gets busy, especially around Christmas. Lots of spaces are located outside the shops in two separate car parks so you can jump out of the car and start shopping straightaway! There's also a multi storey within a short distance. The parking is free which is one of the reasons we visit so much as Liverpool costs us £10 to park for the day in the city centre!
The shops are varied, mostly clothing and accessories, although I don't think there is a huge choice for women of around my age (20s to 30s) for clothing, as most of the womenswear shops there are perhaps aimed more at middle aged women. For clothes, I only really ever look in Warehouse, Coast, Marks and Spencer and Next - there used to be an Oasis but that recently closed. Some of the clothes in Next and Marks and Spencers (more so in Next) are specially made for outlet stores and are labelled as such so you do know before buying and I've never noticed these being lower quality. I generally find that most things from the shops at Cheshire Oaks tend to be cheaper than in high street stores, although not all by massive amounts - I do sometimes come across an exceptional bargain though. I find that saving a little on each item can add up although it's false economy if you end up buying lots of impulse purchases like I do when I'm there!
I also like to look in Dune, Kurt Geiger and Clarks for shoes as they offer big discounts sometimes. I ended up with a pair of £100 shoes in Kurt Geiger for £29 a few weeks back and having looked on the internet when home, it seems the only reason they were discounted was because they were from last year's range which really doesn't bother me. Other womenswear stores include LK Bennett, Phase Eight and Karen Millen amongst others.
For accessories there's a great Radley store but it gets very busy and I find it's a bit hit and miss as to whether they have what I'm looking for. It does house a wide range of handbags and accessories though, including Tula too. In addition, there's a Fiorelli store, although most of the bags in there are in fact Nica and other similar brands. The last few times I've been in there's only been a small section of Fiorelli bags in the corner. There are other accessories shops dotted around too so the selection is good.
My husband has a wide selection of stores to choose from - that's one of the reasons he likes to visit as everywhere else we go usually has hundreds of womens shops and about two mens! At Cheshire Oaks, he is well catered for. His favourites are Lacoste, Penguin, Nike, Adidas, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Henri Lloyd to name a few, all of which offer good discounts. My husband bought a Ralph Lauren polo top for £25 last time we visited when the RRP was £60.
For children, the selection is limited - mamas and papas and a clothes store that I've never heard of and that's about it. There are lots of shops that sell children's clothing within them but I've always found that there is only a small amount compared to adult clothing. There is also a shop selling gadgets but this is not aimed at children, it's aimed at adults. The lack of children's shopping may pose a bit of an issue for us when our daughter is a bit older.
Other stores include Cadbury's although a lot of their stock is just as expensive as supermarkets. There's a WHSmiths and the Works shops, although I haven't really noticed too much of a discount on things in these stores. There's a Body Shop, Whittards of Chelsea, Pro Cook and Antler to name a few others - there are far too many shops to give a complete list! The Cheshire Oaks website shows them all if you want to take a quick look - the outlet owners can be reached at www.mcarthurglen.com/uk.
Eating and Drinking
There are a selection of places to eat and drink dotted around - our favourite is Harry Ramsdens, although it's always full when we visit with only a few seats. There's a Café Rouge, Spudulike, Pizza Express, Wagamamas, Ed's burger diner and red house brasserie. Further away from the shops is a TGI Fridays but it's a short walk from the main shopping area. There's a McDonalds in the centre of the shopping area that has a drive thru so handy if you want to call in on the way home! There's a Starbucks, Costa, Pret a Manger and an independent coffee house for drinks. There's doughnut stands located around the pavilion too that sell bottled drinks if you want something on the go. The doughnuts are delicious and the smell tempts you as you walk around!
There are toilets every so often so you're never far away from them incase you're caught short. There's a play area opposite the Marks and Spencer outlet that is large but it gets full, or it seems to be whenever we walk past. The pavilion is supposed to be non-smoking throughout. Neither of us smoke anyway but I've seen other visitors taking sneaky cigarettes as they're walking around even though they make regular announcements to politely point out that it's all non-smoking. I assume staff tell them it's not allowed if caught!
There's a Sainsbury's located very close so you could combine a weekly food shop with goodies shopping - this isn't something I've ever fancied doing though! There's also a Sainsbury's petrol station on the way out of the shopping area. There are more shops located around the back of Cheshire Oaks, although as far as I'm aware, not part of Cheshire Oaks itself. It's like a retail park and is somewhere we've not visited so I can't give many details on it. I know last time we drove past (around a year back) I spotted quite a large Mamas and Papas and a Next and there's a few other shops there too if you've not shopped enough! For more dining options, there's an area called the Coliseum that is a short walk away that offers bowling, cinema and more restaurants such as Nandos and Frankie and Benny's, but again I've never been to this area as we find it's a bit out of the way and there's enough to amuse us on the Cheshire Oaks site. The other areas seem to offer enough things to do for another day out!
Cheshire Oaks is a great place to shop, we can spend the whole day there and still not have visited all of the shops. The only things I think could be improved are the womens clothing stores to cater for younger women more and children's shops - a toy shop would be a great addition as at the moment there's not many shops for children. I rate it 4 stars overall as we always enjoy ourselves a lot, it's just the lack of certain types of stores letting it down.
Thanks for reading :o)
Cheshire Oaks is an out of town shopping centre which is based not far from where I live. As such, I am a regular visitor, and have had varying degrees of success when shopping there.
==Where is it?==
Cheshire Oaks is based in Ellesmere Port, just off the M53 at junction 10. For anyone not familiar with the area, this is somewhere between Liverpool and Chester. Public transport links are a bit hit and miss, and are only really useful for local people, otherwise you'll be changing trains and catching buses just to get there. It is very easily accessible by car from the M53, making it a popular destination at weekends and on Bank Holidays.
Most shops on the shopping park are open between the following hours:
Monday to Friday: 10am til 8pm
Saturday: 9am til 7pm
Sunday: 10am til 5pm
Bank Holidays: 9am til 6pm
The cinema and restaurants are open later than the shops, and I wouldn't take it for granted that every single shop will be open between these times. This is a rough guide for the shopping park and individual shops may vary. If you're making a trip for something in particular, and are going outside of normal shopping hours, it's worth checking beforehand.
Parking is free and there are numerous spaces, I would advise (from experience) that you make a mental note of where your car is before walking off, otherwise it's very easy to get lost and spend hours searching for your car.
Personally, I tend to avoid coming here at weekends and on Bank Holidays, due to the fact it gets very busy and everything from parking to queuing to pay becomes an issue. Obviously, this is an option for me because I live locally, therefore I can just go in the evenings after work when it's much quieter. However, if you're planning to come at the weekend, I'd advise getting there early to make sure you can get parked up. Sometimes, if I'm driving past here on a weekend or Bank Holiday, the queues on the slip road leading to this shopping centre can back up onto the motorway, THAT'S how popular it is!
==So, what's the fuss about?==
I sometimes forget why it's so popular here, until I go looking for something and remember just how many shops there are. Cheshire Oaks offers a mixture of shops, I have outlined the kind of thing you can expect below, but for full details see the website http://www.cheshireoaksdesigneroutlet.com.
Women's fashion - Oasis, Next, Monsoon, Warehouse, Coast, Claire's Accessories, Jigsaw
Men's fashion - Fred Perry, Armani, Bench, Hugo Boss, Henry Lloyd, GAP
Sports - Adidas, Asics, Sports Direct, Regatta
Household - Kitch N Sync, Le Crueset, ProCook
There is another part to the park which houses stores such as Boots, Argos and a Next store which offers the current range, as opposed to discounted end of range stuff. These are "normal" priced shops. There is also a leisure park which has a Vue cinema, and several chain restaurants such as Prezzo, Nando's, Frankie and Benny's and Bella Italia. This is a good night out if you enjoy the cinema, as you can watch a film followed by a meal, and you have a good choice of restaurants and free parking.
The thing that makes Cheshire Oaks different to most shopping parks, is that most of the merchandise is discounted. Generally speaking, the shops stock end of range or discounted goods, meaning you can pick up a bargain. For example, the Monsoon shop sells end of range dresses, which are only available in certain colours and sizes, so you can get lucky and pick up a dress which previously cost £120 for around £40. This is how I picked up my bridesmaid's dress. The Next shop sells a mixture of normal goods, and items which didn't get sold in the Next sale, so again there are bargains to be had.
The downside to this is that you are not guaranteed to pick up what you need, although is this not the case in any shopping centre? For example, if you're looking for a particular item you've seen online on the Next or Warehouse website, chances are they won't stock it here, as they will be trying to get rid of the previous year's range.
I would say I have mixed feelings about this shopping park. Sometimes I've picked up real bargains. Other times, I've come away empty handed and disappointed. I would say it's best not to rely on coming here when you have something specific in mind, but rather it's better for browsing. My mum and dad shop here all the time, and they often pick up bargains, especially for the house. It has a Lindt (Lindor) chocolate shop which is something I come here for regularly...not because I'm obsessed with chocolate but because they offer things that are different to other shops/supermarkets, so they make excellent gifts.
More often than not, however, I come here prepared to part with my money, but don't actually find anything I want to buy. It's a bit hit and miss, but if you're just looking for a day out somewhere different, it is possible to pick up some bargains depending on what you're looking for.
(This review also appears on Ciao under the username Gingerkitty)
The Cheshire Oaks Village is part of the McArthur Glen outlet villages, however out of the three that I have visited (Windsor and York) this is by far the biggest one..
It is next to a retail park which has various restaurants and a cinema so it could be a bit confusing trying to find it as you have to go through this retail park before finding cheshire oaks..
However, when you get there its well worth the confusion! I have not seen such a huge range of shops including designer labels such as Karen Millen, Nicola Farhi and All Saints being a few. There is also a monsoon and coast which is a first. My other half was also happy as they had lots of outdoor clothing type shops together with Charles Tyrwhitt and TM Lewin for those top end shirts and suits. They also have various home shops too
I had also visited the website prior to going and joined as a member. This entitled me to 10% off my shopping for the day and all I did was print off my email confirmation, take this to the visitor centre and they will give you a card which gives you details of all the shops participate..
We spent 3 hours here and only got half way round...unfortunately we had to leave due to the 3.5 hour drive home (as we had popped in on our way back from a weekend away) but I will certainly make the trip back!
It's set outside but there is a cover outside all the shops so if it rains then you are covered until you want to walk across the car parks back to the car. The carparks are located in the centre of the shops and there are 3 but the shops are located round the edge so it doesn't really matter where you park!
I remember going to Cheshire Oaks when I was very young and hating it, all these shops and no fun parks or anything for when you are little. Well how that changes when you are old enough to enjoy shopping as now I love this place and frequently visit. I am lucky enough to pass by here on my way home from work sometimes so when I do I like to have a look around. Plus when me and my Mom are bored we sometimes to choose to visit and spend a good 5 - 7 hours here as we love it. Here is why it is so good for shopping.
Cheshire Oaks is located just out of Chester and is well sign posted from the Motorways. It is just off the M53 which you can easily get to from the M6 so travelling here is very easy. I am unsure how you would get here on public transport but it is so easy to drive to and find and then when you get here there is a massive car park which is free to park in so great! There are always a few spaces to be had but once we were driving round for a good 20 minutes before finding one so I recommend getting there early to beat the crowds.
So this isn't just a normal shopping place but it's full title is Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet so you can basically get a lot of high street brands for a lot less money than you would do just going up town. Every shop here sells some normal priced things and then a lot of it is discounted hence the outlet side of things.
When you get there and have parked up you will notice that all of the shops go around the car park in a kind of square so you can easily see where our favourite shop is. Now it is an outside shopping centre which as you can imagine in the rain doesn't sound like fun. There is however a lot of shading from the rain in terms of roofing so I have quite happily walked round in the rain. You do however get wet running from your car and also crossing the pedestrian crossings to get to the other side of the centre.
Let's go through some of the shops first. So for those of you who are interested in fashion and want to buy some clothes Cheshire Oaks has some great high street stores including Jane Norman, Oasis, Monsoon and Warehouse. All of these shops are quite big and all of them have great offers on at all times. I brought a lot of my normal T Shirts which cost me £8 for £4 and got a nice scarf for half price too.
There is also a massive Next clearance centre which is fantastic as they sell so much and there is so much choice. Most things are half price or less and then you get some special offer clothing that you will not find in the normal Next high street stores. Plus when you have got stuff from here you can take it back to a normal Next if it doesn't fit as that is the only issue, there are no changing rooms but when you are getting cheap things you don't mind so much giving it a risk.
Other fashion shops include Petroleum, Karen Millen, Coast, Fat Face, Bench, Moss, Timberland, Mexx and Ben Sherman and those are only the ones I can remember. There is a great choice and they are not small shops so we spend a good half hour in each to take a good look. This is why I spend hours there (and lots of money ).
There are not just clothes shops at Merry Hill in that sense as you have got childrens shops and sports shops too. Sports wise and there is a big adidas shop, the North Face shop is nice and the Regatta outdoor shop has some good things. I don't spend much time in these though. For children there is a Gap outlet and a pumpkin patch and that does not include the childrens sections in places like Next.
Cheshire Oaks is also a great place for gifts and other things for your home. There is a nice big Clarks for shoes and luggage and it sells a lot half price. It was buy one get one free last time I was there which I thought was pretty cool. Then there is a Dune, Ecco and a Fiorelli shop to name others for shoes and handbags. Then for your home there is a Whittards which is my favourite shop as it sells tea service seta and some really nice sweets and chocolate. There is also a Past times, Denby outlet and a perfume outlet to choose from.
Now all of this shopping sure makes me hungry so I always love a shopping place that has some good choices for food. If you want a snack then you can choose from Cadburys discount shop (yummy and sells mishapes for £5 and you get loads in a bag), Starbucks coffee, Thorntons, Krispy Kreme doughnuts or Holland and Barrett. If you fancy something more substantial they have a McDonalds, Pizza Express, Cafe Rouge and Chozen noodle to name a few so great choices.
Well that is all I have to tell you about on my review of Cheshire Oaks. As you can see from the above I have not even mentioned half of the shops and I am sure you will agree that there is a great choice. The fact that every shop you go into is an outlet shop is fabulous as you know you are going to be able to find some bargains. I took £100 with me last time and it all went but with that I got 2 pairs of shoes, 5 items of clothing and also a suitcase so not bad going at all.
In conclusion I think Cheshire Oaks is in a great location due to being off the Motorways, is easy to find and once you are there you should love it. Even my Dad loves it here and my Dave so it is a suitable place for all. Go on spend a day here you know you want to!
Thanks for reading.
I am sorry to disagree with some reviews here.
The concept of Cheshire Oaks is good. Location is convenient, layout is well designed.
On the plus side, it enjoys all the usual high street "known names";
MacDonalds, the Pizza outlets, the coffee outlets, etc.
However the clothing/fashion/accessories/etc stock on sale by virtually all outlets is clearly the unsaleable items from their high street outlets.
I discovered shop after shop selling absolute "tat", and at ridiculous prices too.
Many goods were clearly damaged, and should simply not be on sale.
I am quite an ardent sales shopper, and love a bargain as I'm certain most readers do also, but a bargain is likely to be very rare here.
I would simply summarise based on my recent experience at Cheshire Oaks, by advising readers; "Be prepared to be ripped off" by poor quality, overpriced, last season's goods.
With apologies for my honest opinion.
The Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet Village is in a pretty good location. It is close to a number of towns and cities, such as Ellesmere Port, Chester, Liverpool and Birkenhead, which makes it easily accessible.
There are a huge range of stores available in this 'shopping centre' with over 140 stores, there is bound to be something you might need or want. Some of the shops featured in Cheshire Oaks includes: Calvin Klein, Claires, Tripp, Millies Cookies, Oasis, Next, Lacoste, Gap, Tog 24, Sony Carphone Warehouse, Cadbury, Molton Brown and Revlon.
The opening hours are pretty reasonable, especially for those who can not usually attend the usual 9-5.30 shops due to work. Most shops in Cheshire Oaks are open Monday to Friday between 10am-8pm, Saturday between 10am-7pm and Sunday between 10am-5pm. Different opening times apply on bank holidays.
Whats great about Cheshire Oaks is not only the accessibility but the free parking! There are zones A, B and C and even a sheltered carpark. Cheshire Oaks now even has the facility to let you have your car washed while your shopping! Im not too sure of the price, but it is pretty reasonable.
Some of the shops here I would not usually shop at, but do so when I am here, as there are huge discounts available here. Sometimes it can be abit too much of looking through the discounted rails for me though. If you go to Cheshire Oaks more than once a month you may also notice that the stock can sometimes be the same, but can be rather stressful. They stock rotation is not always very good and that may be the reason for the shopping area offering the discount prices in the first place. You will usually find things that are out of season, which is a reason why I dont like going here very often.
Having said that, you really can grab yourself some really good bargains if you look hard enough and know what you want. I have in the past bought some realy bargain suitcases, clothes, shoes, underwear and stationary.
I do like Cheshire Oaks, but only in small doses and infrequently.
Cheshire Oakes Designer Village , also called McArthur Glenn, is located just off the M53 and M56 junctions at Ellesmere Port in the North West of England. The village has now become more of a town in itself and boasts a wide range of shops selling designer names at discounted prices.
The village has numerous carparks, including several in the middle of the shopping village and an undercover car park to the side of the village, just a stones throw from the shops. There are several cafes, and a food hall which has a number of different places to eat, including pizza, pasta, McDonalds, sandwiches, jacket potatoes, and fish & chips etc. A couple of coffee shops also give you the opportunity to sit outside if the weater permits. There are also ample toilet facilities.
Designer labels are abundant at Cheshire Oakes and although mainly clothing stores with names such as Calvin Klein, Kurt Muller and Tommy Hillfiger, the village also has a range of household equipment shops and gift shops.
Head on past the village and you do come to a large sub village which contains many high street stores selling dvds, books, chemist items and has its own multiplex cinema and restaurants. So shop all day and relax at night with a good film, meal and a nice bottle of wine. Perfect for a day out, wether you live nearby or are visiting the area on a break.
This McArthur Glen outlet village is definitely the best of all the
outlet villages I have been to (namely East Midlands, York, Doncaster
Lakeside and Castleford). It is ideally situated just off the M53 only
half a mile from the M56, if you aren't from the area (which we aren't),
it is ideal to combine it with several other local attractions for a
weekend away (Chester, Chester Zoo, Liverpool, North Wales, Blue Planet
Aquarium to name a few).
All the shops are laid out on a massive circle with parking in the
middle, there are also other car parks outside this area meaning you
shouldn't have a problem parking (we never have). There are a few food
carts dotted around selling hot dogs, crepes, donuts, drinks, crisps etc
and then a main food hall with a McDonalds, a sandwich place, jacket
As for the shops, there is nearly everything you can think of ! M&S,
Next, Oasis, Lacoste, Burberry, Henri Lloyd, Levi, Fred Perry, Original
Penguin, Mexx, Ralph Lauren, Nike, Adidas - the list goes on and on.
This outlet village has all the usual outlet shops and more and we
always seem to find something we want at a good price. It really doesn't
bother me if it's last years stock, I'm not that much of a trendsetter!
It is a much larger outlet than any of the others and can take a good
couple of hours to walk round, if not longer - depends how many shops
you go in!
It is round the corner from the Coliseum leisure park which has more
parking a bowling alley and restaurants - Frankie and Benny's, Bella
Italia etc. There's a TGI Fridays on the entrance road to Cheshire Oaks
as well. It is also next to a Sainsbury's supermarket and petrol
We are quite pleased we don't live too close as I think we could end up
spending a lot of money here! A couple of visits a year curbs our
spending somewhat but it is a fantastic place to grab a bargain.
I'm a man. I don't like shopping. It's a rule. Being dragged from store to store when I'm not at work is not my idea of fun, but when the other half suggested a trip to Cheshire Oaks, I jumped at the chance because I really do like Cheshire Oaks!
We live in Sheffield and there's plenty of shopping areas around us (Meadowhall), but I was quite happy to make the 85-mile trip to Cheshire Oaks as it's a genuinely good outlet village. Now, the term "outlet village" is normally one that fills me with dread, fear and boredom as they're usually absolutely crap - the same bunch of useless high street shops that I don't buy anything from.
But, Cheshire Oaks is different. I like my designer brands and so I'm quite happy to wander round shops such as Penguin, Burberry, Lacoste and Henri Lloyd. The only problem is the fear that my credit card may actually melt through over-use!
Cheshire Oaks is located on the outskirts of Chester and takes about 90 minutes to get to from Sheffield, although I'm sure I could get it down to less than an hour if they built a motorway over the Pennines! It's directly next to junction 10 of the M53, although it isn't greatly signposted once you exit the motorway... I'd provide you with directions, but Cheshire council obviously want you to get lost on the way, so who am I to spoil their fun?
The first thing you'll notice about Cheshire Oaks is that it's absolutely massive! I've been to outlet villages in Doncaster, York and Mansfield and Cheshire Oaks must be 3 times the size of them put together. There's a massive car park and we didn't have trouble finding a space - it did seem busier when we left though, with people queuing up to get into spaces... serves you right for not getting up really!
As well as the blokes' designer stores mentioned above, there's also plenty of sports outlets and ladies' shops to be dragged round too, as well as plenty of places for food including McDonald's. There's a Millie's Cookies and about a million coffee houses scattered around too.
More info is available at: www.cheshireoaksdesigneroutlet.com
Cheshire Oaks Outlet Centre is located at Ellesmere Port, just off the M56 at Junction 10 of the M53 and is well signposted from both motorways. Ellesmere Port, for those who don't know it, is a rather sad and unloved place on the Mersey estuary which, if you are seeing the glass half-full has a fairly interesting Boat Museum or if you are a glass half-empty soul, it's got a massive and sometimes very smelly oil refinery on its doorstep. Fortunately the refinery isn't as unpleasant as it used to be when I first started visiting about 15 years ago. At that time, the areas around Ellesmere Port was the only place that I could be sure that the strange smells in my elderly Austin Allegro were coming from outside and not from the engine.
Cheshire Oaks is a McArthur Glen outlet centre, and is one of seven in the UK and 20 or so Europe-wide. At the time Cheshire Oaks first opened in the mid 1990s it was the largest such designer outlet centre in the whole of Europe although I believe it may have now slipped down the rankings a little despite several phases of expansion. I've visited several other such centres and for me Cheshire Oaks remains the original and best option for Outlet shopping. I've been visiting the Oaks since it first opened and still go back every couple of months. It's on my route to work and once in a while, a girl's just got to give in to temptation.
I think it's worth noting that I hate shopping. Unless I'm haggling over rugs in a far flung exotic place or getting a cracking good bargain, I just can't be bothered. Shopping is not a leisure pursuit for me - it's a necessary evil to be got through as quickly and painlessly as possible.
~ What should you expect?~
Cheshire Oaks currently has around 140 stores and seems to be benefiting from the economic problems of the past year. Many people who don't want to completely abandon their 'labels' can still find the brands they love at significant reductions. It's not all about clothes though, Cheshire Oaks also has great choices for household items, books, toiletries, travel goods, and more handbags than you could get through in a lifetime. They aren't all fancy labels either - in addition to the upmarket stores like Jaeger, Austin Reed, Burberry and Charles Tyrwhitt, you'll also find plenty of mid-range stores like Next, Gap M&S and Oasis. Two of my favourites are Nitya and East, although in the case of Nitya the clothing is pretty impractical and needs a major reduction to be worth looking at.
~ Size 8 top, size 22 bottom?~
It's hard to imagine that such figures exist but if you really want to be sure of a bargain, it probably helps to be a bit oddlly shaped. This is a familar problem associated with outlet clothing or even High Street sales - for example unless you are lucky, you might find the suit you love is only available in a jacket that would be tight on a midget and trousers that would be baggy on an elephant. It's a bit pot luck at times. It can be particularly frustrating for women looking for the 12 to 14 sizes in many of the stores as this seems to be what everyone else wants and the commonest sizes go first (or are less available to start with).
~ Bargains for your home as well as for you ~
For household items there are some real bargains to be had. I have a Denby dinner service and got a tip off from the store that my dinner plates will be on offer one week at half the normal discounted price so I was straight in to pick up another half dozen. I've often seen kitchen knife sets discounted to less than 20% of their normal price and have picked up some cracking bargains on saucepans. This is the sort of stuff people tend to cut back on in a recession. If it's a choice between little Jenny's new school shoes and a fab new stock pot, most people will make do with their old kitchen equipment for a little longer.
~ The stores that just don't 'get' it ~
Some stores seem to be offering very little in the way of discount and I'm not entirely sure why they are there - the BOSE electronics store, for example, doesn't appear to deviate from the standard store pricing and they can be found in quite a few outlet centres, perhaps trying to pick up the bored husbands who want to look at gadgets and escape from their wives with their shoe and handbag fixations.
~ How long do you need? ~
How long is a piece of string? It depends on you and what you are looking for as well as just how much stamina you have. When I first started going to the Oaks, it was a bit of a day out and I could easily spend a whole day just wandering round, stopping off for lunch in the food hall or one of the many cafes and restaurants that are scattered around the centre. These days with the Oaks on my everyday route, I take more of a Commando approach - I plan my mission, I get in, identify my targets, grab what I need and blitz my way out again in 60 to 90 minutes. And by going in the evenings and adopting my SAS-raid approach, I benefit from great attention from the staff, no queues in the changing rooms and no crowds to contend with. In the run up to Christmas they were open until 10pm every evening, instead of the usual 8pm closing time, so I had lots of opportunities.
~ Finding your Way Around ~
Challenge number one is to find a parking space which may take some time if you go at peak times. Challenge number two would be remembering where you left the car. Car Parking has been improved and expanded a lot in recent years and I seldom struggle for a place these days, although fortunately I've never had to resort to the massive multi-storey at the back of the site.
The stores are laid out in a large ovoid ring so you can - if you choose - start at any point and just keep going in one direction until you get back again. There's no risk of missing anything if you keep your eyes open.
Special events are sometimes held at weekends and I once attended a motor-themed day with motorcycling exhibitions and a chance to see famous film cars such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (much smaller in real life than you expect), some Bond cars and even the De Lorean from Back to the Future. In the run up to Christmas, the lights and the fantastic giant Christmas tree will really help to get you in the mood to part with your cash.
~ So will you be blown away by the bargains?~
That depends very much on what you are looking for, how picky you are and what constitutes a bargain in your eyes. I'm seldom disappointed but then I'm not the sort of person who HAS to have this years key colour, shape, whatever. It's also important to keep in mind that prices are good for what you get but if you are looking for bargains, you might do better to check the low-end High St stores. 70% off Austin Reed is still almost always going to be more than full price in Primark or Matalan.
Remember also that if you get carried away and get home with a car full of stuff and you can't remember why you bought it, most stores will exchange unwanted items for up to 30 days. If not, they'll make you aware when you buy that no returns are possible on a particular item.
If this sounds like your idea of a great day out but hell on earth for your partner or family, you can offload the non-shoppers at the Boat Museum, the Aquarium or maybe the multiplex cinema or bowling alley in the nearby Coliseum Centre.
Cheshire Oaks is just outside of Ellesmere Port and is just off the motorway. It is a designer outlet village which has shops such as Bench, Vans, Jane Norman, Gap, Next and Levis with products at a discounted price. It is great for a day out as there is lots to do. There is an outdoor play area for the kids and a large food court with a MacDonalds, Harry Ramsdens and other healthier and vegetarian options. They also have a Cadburys outlet shop which is great for discounted chocolate! There is plenty of parking areas including a multi storey and I have never not been able to find a space. The parking is also free! Nearby there is also a retail park with large Boots and Borders stores amongst others and it is very close to a Sainsburys store and petrol station. The facilities are always clean and available. There are also numerous stalls selling hot dogs, donuts and coffees if you want a snack whilst you are wandering round. If you have never been to an outlet village before it is definitely worth a trip as you really can pick up some bargains!
Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet Village is in Ellesmere Port in Cheshire. It is sign posted well and easy to find. It is basically a Discount outlet, with top name brands such as Next, Nike, WHSmiths and Jaeger. There is also a large Travel agents.
The outlet village is all one level, so easily accessable for wheel chairs and push chairs. Maps are on display in several areas, for your ease in finding the shops you are looking for. There is also a food court with several eateries such as Harry Ramsdons, MacDonalds and KFC.
All of the parking at Cheshire Oaks is free, with a Multi Storey car park for over flow. As with most outlet villages, there is no cover when it rains, unless you are in a shop.
Cheshire Oaks also has an entertainment section, The Colluseum. This contains a Mutli Screen Vue cinema, a Bowling Alley, Nightclub and several restaurants. This section also offers free parking.