There are plenty of designer outlets in the UK, and that's a wonderful thing, but you know what they say about having too many choices. Perhaps you have a little cash floating around or need to plan a few outfits for your upcoming summer holiday. These two factors amount to a very good opportunity to hit one of these high-fashion and highly discounted hubs, so you may as well be fully prepared and ready to rock.
Put a date in your diary, call your friends, lace up some comfy sneaks, pack a snack into your handbag and get thee to your nearest (or best) designer outlet soon. But first, learn all about the best ones in this country. We're providing you with the essential facts like addresses, opening times and such, but also the key tidbits of information that only experts know. Like where do you go for certain brands? Which outlet suits you if you've got classic taste versus eclectic style? Is there a particular day that's best to visit Bicester, Hackney Walk or any of the other leading malls?
Keep reading to check out each of the best designer outlets in the UK—and decide which one you'll visit next.
What It's Best For: If you want to make a day out of designer discount shopping, Bicester definitely has the highest reputation for it. Not only is the store offering better than many (hello, Prada, Céline and Alexander McQueen at up to 60% off all year round!), but there are also quality dining experiences, a charming gifting boutique for Christmas and luxury services such as valet parking and a reward card system. It also recently underwent an expansion to 160 stores, so you'll also find luxe lifestyle shops and brands such as Bamford and Cowshed.
Bicester has great connections to Oxford and London Marylebone, and it won't take as long as you think to get there.
Top Tip: Get there before 9 a.m. and aim for a midweek shopping spree. Our inside sources say this is the most successful time to pick up the best of the best.
Opening Times: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (7 p.m. on Sundays)
What It's Best For: Minimalists, high-fashion lovers and hipster girls alike will all fit right into the mix at Hackney Walk. Alongside classic brands like Aquascutum, Joseph and Pringle, you'll also find the epic Matchesfashion.com's outlet and a great hub for Nike.
What's excellent about the location is that you're right in the hub of East London, so you're not out on a limb restricted to the confines of a traditional outlet. You can head back into town or soak up some local culture in Hackney, Shoreditch, Dalston and more.
Top Tip: Check out The Box—it's a sample sale concept store that hosts three to four sales of premium fashion per month. You'll find in-season samples, catwalk pieces, limited-edition stock and one-offs usually reduced to up to 80% off. Previous sales have included Liberty London, the first-ever UK J Brand sale, Isabel Marant and A.P.C., plus curated multi-brand sales with the likes of Mother of Pearl and Eudon Choi included.
What It's Best For: Burberry superfans, gift hunters and anyone looking for classic, high-quality pieces to cherish for a lifetime, this is your destination. It's just down the road from Hackney Walk, so you may as well visit while you're in the area, right? Discounts range from 30% to 60% off.
Top Tip: Shop for a great winter coat out of season (i.e., before the autumnal weather hits and everyone else has the same idea), as it's the outerwear everyone raves about in reviews.
Address: 29-53 Chatham Place, Hackney, London E9 6LP
What It's Best For: Chesire Oaks (which is part of the McArthurGlen group of outlet stores) shoppers rate the fact that there are so many stores here. You'll find designer brands like Coach and Paul Smith next to premium high-street labels like Kurt Geiger, Reiss and more, so it's ideal for those with varying budgets. You can even stock up on those M&S basics you always love. What could be better?
Top Tip: According to online reviews, the staff is reportedly very friendly here, so if there's something you're looking for or have any questions, this seems like the place to do it.
What It's Best For: Handbag obsessives, of course! But don't forget that this British brand offers great womenswear (we're particularly keen on this season's corduroy jackets and pretty dresses) as well as fantastic footwear and smaller accessories.
Top Tip: If you're looking for a specific piece, call the shop before you go to see if it's in stock. (We're after an Amberley Satchel.)
Address: 25 Swinegate, York YO1 8AZ
Opening Times: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (5 p.m. on Sundays)
What It's Best For: Particularly good for lifestyle brands, as you could pick up some Bose speakers or Le Creuset casserole dishes. Also better for smaller budgets as the store offering isn't as premium as others—the best ladieswear brands include Reiss, Hobbs and Jaeger, for example.
Top Tip: According to online reviews, it appears that there is some confusion surrounding parking—so do be sure to check this out properly before visiting to avoid any surprises.
Address: Charter Way, Chapel Hill, Braintree CM77 8YH