The other week, I went on one of the loveliest blogger trips on the run up to Christmas. Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet – part of the McArthurGlen group – is around an hour drive from Manchester and is a place I don’t visit often enough, therefore I was super excited to head there and explore it in all it’s Christmas glory.
If you’re not familiar with Cheshire Oaks, it was the first and still remains the UK’s largest Designer Outlet, having opened in 1995. I remember going for the first time with my Mum and sister years and years ago, and being wowed by all the designer clothing and bag stores at reduced prices. It sticks in my mind as being a brilliant day out, but for some reason I’d only returned once or twice since.
It’s a magical, whimsical shopping wonderland with over 400,000 square feet of retail space, comprising more than 150 boutiques, restaurants and cafés. If you like your labels but don’t like hefty price tags, you’ll love it. It has the perfect mix of luxury and value, so I fit right in!
I always remember a particular bag shop from my first visit, which offered up to 60% off the RRP. My sister stocked up on Fiorelli, and the vision sticks clearly in my mind.
From athletic labels like Nike and Adidas, to high-street favourites, such as Marks & Spencer and Next, the variety is huge. Then there are beauty retailers, jewellery stores, and of course, your top designers like Burberry, Polo Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors and Hugo Boss, plus beautiful accessory brands like Mulberry, Coach and Kate Spade.
I headed along during a week night with a handful of local influencers to explore the beauty side of the shopping. I mean, towards the end of November meant it was the ideal time to explore gifts, so we headed to Molton Brown as the first stop.
Wait – I tell a lie. The very first stop was for a hot chocolate with lashings of whipped cream and marshmallows, which was blissfully lovely. We sat in the Christmas cabins and all gathered together and chatted, before making our way to the Molton Brown store and started out trying out the scents.
As we sipped some Prosecco and enjoyed mince pies, I fell immediately in love with the Molton Brown Mesmerising Oudh Accord & Gold Eau de Parfum, although in all honesty, there were some very close contenders for my favourite! I don’t like zesty, fruity scents, as I’m more for deep, vanilla, evening type scents.
After playing around with Heavenly Gingerlily and Fiery Pink Pepper, I chose the Oud fragrance and decided to keep this as a Christmas gift for someone this Christmas. I mean, Molton Brown always strikes me as a special gifting brand. You associate it with luxury hotels and lavish, pampering gifts. Well I sure do anyway!
I took away with me an array of shower gels and body washes too, so that I can keep a touch of Molton Brown for my own bathroom experiences too. Lovely!
Our next stop was to call at L’Occitane, another beauty brand that I’m a huge fan of. We started off by learning so much about the brand by the team instore, who were so incredibly insightful. I never knew how passionate the brand were about sustainability and have focused their product offerings on refills and cutting out unnecessary packaging.
The range of refills was something fascinating for me to see. I didn’t know they were so big on this movement, and it just made me fall more in love with the brand.
As you can see form the photos, I came away with some lovely products from L’Occitane to properly introduce me further to the brand. The Extra Gentle Soap might sound like a simple, fuss-free product, but I love having a subtle scented soap in my bathroom which can be used for both me and my partner, being gentle enough to use on our faces for those days I just want to slather up a bar of soap and rinse my makeup away without using a product with any acids, etc!
How fantastic is this little silver key too, which the team at L’Occitane personalised with my name? It’s such a handy little device which you use at the bottom of tube products, to help squeeze out the last of the stubborn products – like thick creams – so you can ensure you get every last drop of product.
L’Occitane have some really lovely ranges which make great gifts for Christmas, especially for those you are aware about packaging waste and would appreciate a gift that gives a nod to the environment, and encourages refills. So impressed!
Now, I wanted to save the best until last because I’ve literally been raving about Beauty Outlet at Cheshire Oaks over on my Instagram a lot since my visit.
For those who have never visited a Beauty Outlet store before (because in a way, you don’t see them everywhere, mainly at outlet shopping centres dotted around the country), it is an absolute beauty heaven. Not just the insane amount of brands and products lining the walls from top to bottom, but because everything is ridiculously affordable!
Beauty Outlet stock the full, extensive range of W7 makeup, which in my opinion, offers the best dupes of all the big name brands. I recently raved about a W7 ‘Stroke of Genius’ microblading eyebrow pencil, which is just as good as the £16 Smashbox brow pencil, which you can purchase for just £2.99 (sometimes it’s even cheaper!).
Honestly this eyebrow pencil is literally the best! I can’t believe how it works just literally the same as big name brands like MAC and Smashbox, but for a tiny fraction of their usual cost. It last ages and I honestly feel that if you need a pencil to shape your brows nicely, this is the one you need,
Some other fabulous makeup and beauty brands you can shop at Beauty Outlet include Models Own, Cover FX, Ardell, TIGI and Stila, to name a few… all at outlet prices, cheaper than you find them in the bigger name stores.
I can’t really put into words how incredible this store is – it’s just the best place for stocking up, and for buying gifts for people. We watched the girls who work in the store carry out a makeover using a stunning 24k gold W7 palette and it worked just as well as the Anastasia Beverly Hills palette – so incredible! I was mesmerized at how well the affordable makeup worked, especially as I’m all about affordability.
Also, as I am a bridal makeup artist alongside being a full time blogger, I had an absolute whale of a time eyeing up one huge dedicated wall just to false lashes. From top to bottom was every type of false lash from quality brands – like Ardell which is my go to for lashes – all at cut prices.
I’m desperate to go back and stock up on lashes for my 2020 brides without paying the full price I usually have to pay from places like Boots…
We finished our night with a group dinner at Comptoir Libanis, one of the many restaurants at Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet. This was my first time dining here, but had heard so many great reviews on the place over the years. The Cheshire Oaks restaurant was just stunning – the walls decorated to create that Middle Eastern vibe, with bold brights and intricate detailing all around the space.
Straight away simply from taking in the scent of the restaurant and browsing the menu, I could see this place bioasts authentic, quality Lebanese food inspired from Middle Eastern bold flavours, and also encouraging sharing food (which I love!)
And that is exactly what we got! Plates after plates, dishes after dishes of sharing breads and dips, spiced meats, potatoes, rice and salad dishes all with that Lebanese twist. I devoured the baked vegetarian dishes and breaded cheeses, but sadly had to leave before the desserts came out due to driving home, but my what a place! Genuinley loved it and would recommend anyone shopping at Cheshire Oaks to give this place well deserved visit. The most generous hospitality!
I am now the proud owner of a voucher for Cheshire Oaks, in which I’m desperate to head to for a visit before Christmas so I can get myself some presents for meeeeeeee! But then again, should I save it for the January sales are really load myself up with designer bargains?
Oh the decisions…