The best shopping centre in the UK?
Manchester has a lot going for it, one of the biggest and most happening cities in the UK. We have a slight bias here, we love this city! Whilst the city centre shopping experience is amazing, with hidden gems, shops for all occasions and covers a vast distance, there are some negatives. The cost of parking can be steep if you don’t know where to park (see our guide to the cities best car parks) if it rains you get wet (it usually does in Manchester) and there is a fair distance to cover!
Enter, The Trafford Centre. From the outset in 1998 it’s developers had grand plans, if you know anyone in the construction trade, who is good at their craft and lives in the Greater Manchester area chances are they played a small hand in the construction of this amazing building.
The Intu Trafford Centre has it all, shops, food, entertainment, free parking and stunning architecture. Even though the building is over 20 years old, it is maintained to the highest of standards. There isn’t a wall in need of paint, a cracked tile or a piece of brass that hasn’t been polished to within an inch of its life! The standards are high, but this makes for not just a place to shop and eat, but an experience like no other in the UK. Every attention to detail has been taken care of, you could quite easily miss some of these small things, but they go together to make you feel relaxed, happy and eager to spend your hard earned money.
Whether you are after budget clothing from H&M or Primark (a concession inside Selfridges) or after this season’s must-have fashion from Victoria’s Secret or All Saints, the Trafford Centre has it all.
The Intu Trafford Centre is a two story, parade of shops, at one end you have the John Lewis department store and the other Debenhams, two flagship stores for their respective brands that have a huge range of products to choose from. Making your way along the vast open plan corridor style walkways from one end to the next, you pass shops such as Waterstones, Mama’s and Papa’s, Next, Apple and many more.
Whilst the two flagship department stores prop up each end of the Intu Trafford Centre, the centre is dedicated to Selfridges, spanning both floors this is a mix of concession based shops and food outlets. Selfridges opens the pathway to the food section of the Trafford Centre.
They split food outlets nicely, the downstairs mainly comprises of places you can buy food from and sit together to eat. If you are with family or friends and all want something different, this is great. If you would prefer to visit one of the many restaurants, then take a wander up the escalators to find brands such as; TGI Fridays, Barburritos, GBK, La Tasca, Bills and many more.
Some brands appreciate that sometimes you want to dine in and other times take out and eat with your friends all from different places, one of my favourites that offers an outlet up and downstairs is Barburittos. If you haven’t checked them out, their burritos and bowls with hot rice, the meat of your choosing and varying degrees of spicy salsa are worth a look.
When it comes to places to drink, that is something the Trafford Centre is lacking. Not that it really needs it, the associated troubles that come with a bar scene aren’t really the crowd they are trying to attract. However, if you fancy a cocktail or two there is a cocktail bar upstairs and various restaurants such as TGI Friday’s also serve them by the goldfish bowl!
After a hard day shopping, followed up with a lovely meal out, what better way to finish the evening off than with a game of bowling or a film at the cinema? The Trafford Centre boasts an IMAX cinema experience, perfect for the movie lover.
If cinema or bowling isn’t your thing, how about a game of crazy golf? Whether it’s 9 or 18 holes of tricky obstacles that you’re after, it’s a really good laugh with friends to end the evening. There is also laser quest, a climbing wall, amusement arcades and a few more treats along the way.
I have met one or two people who actually don’t like the Intu Trafford Centre. These are rare species I will admit, but you can’t please everyone I suppose.
In the main, a shopping centre that has free parking, undercover shopping come rain or shine, has a vast array of shops, food and entertainment will disappoint only a few.
Monday – Sunday 10:00 – 22:00
These times do change at times such as Christmas and bank holidays.
Intu Trafford Centre, Stretford, Manchester, M17 8AA
0161 749 1718