I have been to Bicester outlet shopping mall in Oxfordshire, England, on four occassions each with varying degrees of success so I thought I would share some tips to help alleviate what can be an extremely overwhelming shopping experience!
As I live in South West London, I either drive (takes around an hour and 15 minutes) or get the train direct from Marylebone in Central London (average 58 minute journey time). On 3 occassions I have driven as I like the ease of travelling door to door and to have the car on hand to store purchases. When driving, you are always greeted at Bicester with signs recommending you to go straight to the over flow carpark to 'park and ride', and each time I ignore these signs and drive straight into the carpark in the forecourt of the shopping complex and always get an excellent space within 10 minutes. If you opt to take the train from Central London's Marylebone, then there will be a public shuttle waiting for you at Bicester station to take you straight to the outlet.
Plan Of Action
I recommend going to Bicester with a list of items you are looking for rather than to browse as Bicester is large and busy particularly on the weekends. I also find that I am less likely to make purchases I regret or panic shop when I have a loose idea of what I would like. On my last trip I went with my friend, Ali, we were on an exciting hunt for her wedding shoes, but that's not to say that our list didn't evolve once we were there! Once you arrive I would recommend working your way through the stores from the far right to the far left of the complex. (The complex is based on one long piazza.) You will observe particularly long queues to enter Gucci and Prada, for those stores the queue always diminishes later in the day so unless you are there for opening time then I would leave those stores till the end of you visit.
What to Buy
Don't arrive at Bicester with the expectation of snapping up the classic Gucci Marmont bag or signature leather belt in Black. Although there is plenty of fantastic stock, it usually does not consist of the sought after classic pieces, rather seasonal varients and less popular colours are available. For instance, Gucci had a wide variety of the Princetown Loafers but not in colours Navy, Black or White. This general principal applies throughout most of the stores at Bicester but especially for the luxury brands in order to protect the exclusivity of their brand.
When to go
If you take one piece of advice from me; let it be this. Bicester runs a couple of events per year whereby you can benefit from an additional 20% discount off the outlet price, I would highly recommend that you coincide your trip with one of these events. In order to be notified of these sales, head to https://www.bicestervillage.com/en/register/ to register for these alerts. I would also recommend going Monday- Friday during the day as it is significantly less busy opposed to the weekend.
Where to refuel
Shopping at Bicester is tiring and you will definetely need a pitstop or two! The good news is there are plenty of options to dine or grab some food on the go. Food to Go restaurants include Pret, Itsu, Curry Leaf Cafe, Simply Noodles and other pop up food stands. For a cocktail and something a little more substantial, there is Farmshop restaurant Cafe, Le Pain Quotidien and a branch of London's famous ' The Wolesley' which is where Ali and I ate on our last trip top Bicester. We both had a French Martini, Ali opted for the burger, and I the Mac n Cheese (I have a massive obsession with Pasta much to the dismay of my jeans waistband!) All drinks and dishes were excellent and service was prompt and friendly so I will happily recommend it.