Living in Kent, we are very lucky to be only 20 minutes away from McArthurGlen Designer Outlet in Ashford.
If you didn't know, McArthurGlen is the European leader in designer outlet retailing. They bring consumers their favourite brands at 30-70% less everyday. Not only do they offer a place to shop, they also have a wide variety of places to eat and a play area to keep the kiddies entertained. So, as we found out today, it really is an all day shopping experience!
Today, we were invited for a day out at McArthurGlen Ashford. My sister came along with me and I decided to bring the children as well, as they needed to be fitted for new shoes. I was a little worried about taking the children, as I know how easily they can get bored on a shopping trip.
When we arrived Millie was asleep (a rare occurrence these days) so we let Chester have a play around on the lovely play area. It was the perfect mix of climbing frames and slides for both younger and older children. It was nice to use it as a bit of a bargaining tool as well. If the children were good, they could have a play in the play area at the end too! If you pop into guest services, they have a treasure hunt, where you have to look out for animal stickers in store windows, if you manage to find all of them you can pick a prize from the lucky dip! They also have McArthur cars that you can hire out for £2, this all makes the shopping trip that bit more exciting for Children.
I arrived with a small list of things I needed to buy; trainers for me (mine are literally falling apart but I love them), shoes for Millie, trainers for Chester, and possibly School trouser for Chester.
With 70 stores to choose from, we were spoilt for choice! We started by looking in Hamleys, we then headed into The Works to keep the children happy and purchase some all important Loom Bands! They had a fantastic offer of 3 packs for £2, plus they had coloured s clips and a loom board too. I also made use of the buy one get one free offer on the School English and Maths workbooks, perfect to prepare Chester for year 1 in September!
We had Chester and Millie's feet measured on the Clarks ipad fitting experience, Chester thought it was totally awesome that an ipad could measure his feet!
We browsed around a few more stores, making sure we brought some yummy Lindt chocolate to keep up our energy! Some of the discounts were just incredible, in French Connection for example, they had dresses down to £19.99 from £139!
It was then time for Lunch. They have a variety of counter service eatery's such as Mcdonalds and Harry Ramsdens. Then they have a cafe, a Wagamama and a Pizza Express. We chose to eat in Pizza Express as we know it to be very child friendly. We met with Jon, McArthurGlen Ashfords Marketing Manager, so it was a great chance for me to quiz him about the outlet over lunch! Let me tell you, there are some big plans for the Ashford outlet, including a multi story car park, which I think is a fab idea! I also found out that the Abercrombie & Fitch store, which opened last year, was the first of its kind to open in Europe, and it has since paved the way for openings across Europe. Chatting to Jon, its clear that the McArthurGlen group are constantly checking the market and making sure that they are meeting the demands of the public.
Lunch was fab, the staff were great with the Children, very patient with them, even when they were getting a bit noisy by the end of our meal! Chester was given a 'winner' sticker for finishing all of his dinner, that totally made his day! I was surprised to hear that last orders are taken an hour after the shops close, so after a long days shopping you can sit down and enjoy some scrummy food. I have made a mental note of this, so that Craig and I can go back and enjoy a child free trip and a meal out one weekend!
We continued our shopping trip, sourcing out bargains, both children managed to get new shoes/trainers, Sarah managed to get some beautiful Wellington Boots in the Croc shop for a bargain £11.99. I sadly didn't find any trainers that I liked, but thats not to say there wasn't plenty to choose from, in fact I was amazed at the amount of choice. But our biggest bargains came from our favourite shop, GAP. They had a lot of 30-50% off sale items, which made for some great buys. But on top of that, we had a 30% off for this weekend voucher (including sale items) by being signed up to the McArthurGlen newsletter (so well worth signing up). So I bought a jumper and 2 t shirts for Chester, a hoodie and a dress for Millie and a top for me, saving a massive £56.68 and only costing £40.26. AMAZING!
One other thing that really impressed me about the outlet were the toilet facilities. They were amazingly clean, plenty of them dotted around. But the icing on the cake, for Millie, who as you know has recently finished her potty training, was the family toilet within the toilets. They had a full sized toilet alongside a child sized toilet. Millie was so happy that she could sit on a 'big girl toilet' all by herself, it was a nice little touch.
We ended up spending nearly 7 hours at the outlet, so its no surprise that by the end the children were getting very tired and grumpy. My sister and I were exhausted, so they must of been shattered! We let them have some time in the play area before heading home, it was only fair!
Some of our bargains...
We had a great day, with some fantastic bargains. With ample parking right in the heart of the outlet and wide walkways, which make it very pushchair friendly, I would certainly recommend that if you have a McArthurGlen near to you, to go and give it a visit. The locations can be found on their website here. This particular one in Ashford is only 37 minutes on the train from London, with free shuttle buses to the outlets front door!
I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. We were given a £100 voucher to spend at McArthurGlen Ashford and provided with lunch at Pizza Express for the purpose of this review.