As many high streets up and down the country are becoming like ghost towns, this has led to more extravagant shopping centres where people no longer go to just shop, but also as a weekend break.
The best shopping centres in England has it all – a wide variety of shops and restaurants, bars, entertainment facilities, surrounding parks and lakes, and major landmarks – all contained within a huge area.
So if you’re looking for something to do on the weekend, why not take a visit to one of our top 10 best shopping centres in England. You no longer have to go abroad for world-class shopping experience.
Best Shopping Centres in England…
- Location: Greenhithe, Kent
- Area (m2): 155,700
- First Opened: 16th March 1999
- Number of Shops: Approx. 330
- Parking Spaces: Over 13,000
- Parking Cost: £FREE
At night, Bluewater lights up the nearby darkness – situated in Greenhithe, Kent, Bluewater Shopping Centre is surrounded by greenery, lakes and lots of parking spaces (never worry about having to waste hours searching for a place to park!).
Adopting a triangular floor plan, this shopping centre almost looks pleasingly symmetrical, but there are still plenty of ongoing improvements as of late 2018. For example, the expansion of West Village dining and specialist retail area, meaning more shops for customers!
Bluewater caters to the more upmarket visitor, having approximately 330 shops including John Lewis, Zara, Uniqlo, GAME, HMV, Nespresso and more!
And never forget about the fancy food and restaurants – there is a wide range of cuisines on offer so if you fancy some Italian, you can go to Zizzi’s or Jamie’s Italian or perhaps Comptoir Libanais for some Lebanese food. There are also many cafes and fast food places to choose from.
If you are bored of shopping or eating, you can also check out all the leisure activities available – go watch a movie at the cinema, jump about in the Gravity Trampoline Park or take a pleasure stroll around the Bluewater Nature Trail.
2. Westfield London
- Location: White City, Greater London
- Area (m2): 241,547
- First Opened: 30th October 2008
- Number of Shops: Over 300
- Parking Spaces: 5,500
- Parking Cost: £3 (0-1 hours), £6 (1-2 hours), £8 (2+ hours on a weekday), £9 (2+ hours on a weekend)
England’s and Europe’s largest shopping centre is located in White City, West London – there are plenty of ways to get there thanks to nearby transport links, so you can explore all of Westfield, as well as the nearby Shepherd’s Bush market.
Elegantly designed externally and internally, this 5 floor building uses lots of glass roofing for optimised lighting and is soon to undergo more development concerning extension. When this is completed, there will be more retail space, as well as new offices, new streets, more public space, and over 1500 new homes (as of Sept 2018).
With over 300 shops and counting, you can shop all you want – whether you’re looking for clothing, jewelry, stationery, or entertainment, you’ll be able to find it all here at Westfield. There’s even a separate section called “The Village” which houses 35 world-class luxury stores.
With an entire floor and more dedicated to food, you can also be sure that you’ll fill your stomach! Whilst you’re in Westfield London, entertain the family at the cinema, take the kids to KidZania – an indoor city run by kids, or attend events hosted in different shops. For example, currently at John Lewis, there is the Cross Stitch Workshop.
3. Westfield Stratford
- Location: Stratford, Greater London
- Area (m2): 175,000
- First Opened: 13th September 2011
- Number of Shops: Approx. 280 (and 70 restaurants)
- Parking Spaces: 5000
- Parking Cost: £2.80 (0-1 hours), £5.60 (1-2 hours), £6.70 (2+ hours on weekdays), £8.40 (2-3 hours on weekends), £9.80 (2+ hours on weekends)
One of London’s other major shopping centres, next to a smaller shopping centre (the Stratford Centre), is yet another Westfield, but on the east side of the city. It’s near train stations, as well as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which a river runs through.
With three floors and about 175,000m2 of space (22,000m2 of which is occupied by John Lewis), Westfield Stratford takes fourth place in largest shopping centres in England. Whilst it is not first place in size, it has been reported to be the first to use on a large-scale Pavegen floor tiles which utilises kinetic energy.
Approximately, there are 280 shops, including Primark, Paperchase, Urban Outfitters, Swarovski, and many more. Out of the three floors, there is one floor dedicated to food and there are 70 restaurants scattered across the shopping centre.
Furthermore, there are many leisure activities available such as the All Stars Lanes for bowling, the cinema, and various events all year round (in September, there will be the pop up fashion and design zoo!)
4. Intu Lakeside
- Location: Thurrock, Essex
- Area (m2): 133,780
- First Opened: 25th October 1990
- Number of Shops: 245
- Parking Spaces: 125
- Parking Cost: £FREE
Intu Lakeside – arguably Essex’s favourite shopping centre. Located nearby a large retail park that features Decathlon, SportsDirect, Ikea and a Currys megastore, Lakeside sits beautifully besides the 100,000m2 Alexandra Lake (thus the name ‘Lakeside’). Recently, it has undergone some refurbishments, which included new Italian porcelain flooring, new ceilings, new lighting, accompanied by new glass roofs for extra natural light.
Additionally, there are now new and faster lifts, additional escalators, and automatic doors for optimised travel within the shopping centre.
With 245 stores and about 50 cafes and restaurants, Lakeside shopping centre caters towards working-middle class shoppers with well-known fashion brands such as Primark, JD Sports, H&M and Zara.
The top floor contains the food court area where you’ll find fan favourites including Nandos, Five Guys, KFC, Taco Bell, Wasabi and more. For a more serene and romantic atmosphere, take a walk to the outside boardwalk where you can eat and drink at the restaurants overlooking the glimmering lake.
Coming soon are many new leisures including Nickelodeon Entertainment Centre, Hollywood Bowl, Puttshack for some Crazy Golf, and Flip Out, an indoor trampoline park.
5. Intu Trafford Centre
- Location: Trafford, Greater Manchester
- Area (m2): 180,900
- First Opened: 10th September 1998
- Number of Shops: Approx. 280
- Parking Spaces: Over 11500
- Parking Cost: £FREE
The Trafford Centre – the third largest shopping centre in England and also Manchester’s most popular. It lies near Legoland and Sea Life which you can visit before or after completing all of your shopping.
Trafford shopping centre’s unconventional and lavish architectural style offers a unique shopping experience – you’ll almost feel like you’re walking through a palace!
Offering over 280 shops including large department stores such as John Lewis, Selfridges and Debenhams, Europe’s largest food court (the Orient), and the UK’s busiest cinema, Trafford Centre not only has impressive architecture, but also impressive services and facilities.
There is the Orient (the 1930s liner food court), which offers 1600 seats as well as interesting designs from all over the world. A large number of entertainment facilities can also be found, such as the 20 screen Odeon multiplex cinema, Paradise Island miniature golf, a Namco funscape with bowling and arcade games.
6. Liverpool One
- Location: Liverpool
- Area (m2): 154,000
- First Opened: 29 May 2008
- Number of Shops: Approx. 170
- Parking Spaces: 3000
- Parking Cost: from £2.70 per hour
A short distance away from the River Mersey, Liverpool Cathedral and Liverpool’s Chinatown, Liverpool One is the largest open air shopping centre in the UK, therefore you can appreciate the sky and enjoy the fresh air between the six districts.
Liverpool One can be easily identified amongst other shopping centres due to the use of different architects. There hasn’t been many developments in the past decade, except for in 2009 when the final residential blocks were opened.
Each of the six districts at Liverpool One are specific to different tastes, for example, if you’re after something designer and luxurious, you can head right over to Peter’s Lan. On the other hand, if you’re searching for technology, fashion and food, you can visit Paradise Street.
If you’re just looking to have some fun with the family rather than food and shopping, you can go to the Odeon cinema or Jungle Rumble Adventure Golf.
7. Bullring Shopping Centre
- Location: Birmingham
- Area (m2): 127,100
- First Opened: 4th September 2003
- Number of Shops: Over 200
- Parking Spaces: 3100
- Parking Cost: £2.50 – £3.50 (0-1 hours)
Not too far from the Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum and the National Sea Life Centre, the Bullring Shopping Centre is surrounded by historic sites, landmarks and large markets. It consists of two main buildings – the East and West Mall – and both buildings sit comfortably underneath a 7000m2 glass roof, known as the SkyPlane, which appears to have no visible support.
Throughout the centre, there are a number of interesting artworks, including sculptures such as ‘The Bull’, many of which are photographic attractions.
Housing one of only four Selfridges in the UK, the 4th largest Debenhams and John Lewis, there are over 200 shops to shop from.
When you’re fed up of shopping, you can settle down at one of the many cafes, coffee shops, restaurants or bars, or just grab something on the go in the centre’s concession stands – like bubble tea or frozen yogurt from Mee Cha.
8. Westgate Oxford
- Location: Oxford, Oxfordshire
- Area (m2): 74,322
- First Opened: 1972 (original building); 24th October 2017 (enlarged building)
- Number of Shops: Over 100
- Parking Spaces: Around 1100
- Parking Cost: £3 (1 hour) to £25 (24 hours). Evening tariff (5pm – 6am) of £3.50
In the world famous university city of Oxford, there lies a large shopping centre – Westgate Oxford. Located near Oxford Castle, the Clarendon centre and the Oxford war memorial, you’ll be able to find this 74,322m2 shopping centre with its large glass roof and street-like walkways inside.
Most recently in 2016-17, Westgate underwent a large refurbishment and now, it’s larger, more modern and offers rooftop dining experiences with a view of the Oxford skyline, as well as more places to shop at.
Some of the new 100 shops that were opened in Westgate Oxford included John Lewis, Uniqlo, Molton Brown and MAC. But it wasn’t just more shops that opened; a five screen Curzon cinema, a gym and a library were presented too.
Coming soon will be the Escape Hunt, where you are locked in a room for 60 minutes with the goal of getting out. For the meantime, though, you can check out the Junkyard Golf Club!
9. Cabot Circus
- Location: Bristol
- Area (m2): 96,200
- First Opened: 25th September 2008
- Number of Shops: Over 120
- Parking Spaces: 2500
- Parking Cost: Varies from £2 – £18, depending on number of hours and day
Adjacent to Bristol’s main shopping district Broadmead, is Cabot Circus – the surrounding area was developed due to the opening of this shopping centre, so there are now offices, hotels, residential apartments and shops (though there are already plenty within the Cabot Circus).
The large glass-panelled roof over the shopping centre shelters over 120 stores. You can find them in the divided three streets and multiple levels.
On the top floor, you can find the cinema and eateries, such as Yo! Sushi, Bella Italia, Nando’s and more – on the upper ground floor, you can find cafes and restaurants, including Five Guys and Pret.
For leisure, there’s a 13-screen Showcase Cinemas and multiple events through the year consisting of fashion shows and student events.
- Location: Southampton
- Area (m2): 75,600
- First Opened: 28th September 2000
- Number of Shops: Over 125
- Parking Spaces: 4000
- Parking Cost: £2 to £10 (dependent on hours and car park)
Dominating Southampton’s previous largest shopping centre Marlands and located nearby the docks, Westquay shopping centre takes up about 75,600m2 of space and offers over 125 shops, including famous and popular stores such as John Lewis, M&S, Next and Waterstones.
Westquay shopping centre has undergone rapid transformation over the years, and is now a modern construction marvel, utilising geothermal energy to power the building’s heating.
In 2012, the food terrace was re-developed, therefore there were new additions of restaurants and old restaurants were refurbished. In addition, the outside terrace area was enclosed, making it more suitable for all types of weather, and there were many changes to furniture for optimised comfort and aesthetics.
If you’re here at Westquay to have fun and not through shopping, then you can always get a strike at Hollywood Bowl or catch a flick at Showcase Cinemas.