I live in Liverpool and frequently travel the thirty miles or so to this excellent shopping mall and it's well worth the journey. The Trafford Centre may be regarded as a temple to decadence by some, but confirmed shopaholics, like me, regard it as close to paradise!
Built on a previously derelict piece of land, just south of Manchester, it quickly established itself as a premium shopping experience, with a mix of upmarket department stores, multiplex cinema, dining venues and a plethora of designer labels.
Some years ago, the centre was extended to include several furniture and lifestyle stores, linked to the main mall by a covered footbridge.
This was the site of the first Selfridges store outside London and the branch, though much smaller than the original, stocks many prestigious fashion brands including Armani, Hugo Boss and Vivienne Westwood. The are also excellent, top of the range selections of audiovisual kit, kitchen equipment and hi-tech gadgets.
Other large stores include John Lewis, Debenhams, Marks & Spencer, BHS and more, interspersed with many designer boutiques.
The food hall is spectacular and built around a huge mock up of a cruise ship. There is everything from fast food to more elaborate fayre and dishes to suit every possible taste. Carluccio's is particularly good as is the tapas bar, Las Iguanas.
On the upper floor, there is a large, multiplex cinema, so it really is possible to have a full family day out here.
The shops are on the pricey side, as one may expect. This was built as an exercise in opulence and no expense was spared. Shoppers walk on marble floors and are surrounded by gilded columns and hand painted frescoes. Unlike most large malls, the avenues are curved and the roof is of glass construction, so one does not feel as closed in as you do elsewhere. I particularly like the great dome in the centre, which, I believe, is almost as big as that of St Paul's Cathedral.
Perhaps the biggest bonus for shoppers here is the vast number of free parking spaces. The only drawback is that bottlenecks tend to develop on the access roads at busiest times and it can occasionally take ages to get out. That said, the opening hours are long (typically 10am to 10pm), so if you time your journey to avoid the rush, there isn't usually a problem. Open until 11pm before Christmas.
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