We’re very lucky here on the south coast to have a multitude of options when it comes to days out, or weekends away.
We live just outside the new forest & 45 minutes up the road is Gunwharf Quays.
To call it just an outlet shopping centre doesn’t do it justice. Yes it boasts more than 90 stores with massive discounts, but it also has over 30 restaurants, coffee shops and bars, a cinema complex, hotel, bowling alley, art gallery, night club, casino, & you can even take boat trips from the marina.
As if that wasn’t enough, in 2005 the 180 metre tall Emirates Spinnaker Tower was built. A huge structure, Initially created to celebrate the new millennium, it has become an icon of the city of Portsmouth, visible from 23 miles away! As part of our trip we were invited to take a tour up the tower-more about that later on.
We had a plan for our day trip. As a family of six we like to know when and where we’re going to eat/shop/entertain the kids-but you could definitely rock up and just explore for yourselves. The centre maps are clear & concise-as is the website if you need to delve a little deeper into any details.
On arrival you are guided into the 24 hour 1500+ space car park. Parking is priced from £2.90 up to £20 (for a full 24 hour stay). But if you don’t drive, or would like a to have a few drinks the Portsmouth Harbour train station is just a few minutes walk away.
Our plan was to shop for a couple of hours-we were given a gift card by Gunwharf with which to shop, an amazing idea for a gift for a birthday-or perhaps an anniversary?!
First on my list was The White Company. Hit with the most beautiful aroma the moment we walked in, I had to treat myself to a candle, I went for the ‘Seville’ scented one.
I also picked up a gift for a friends baby, everything is so beautifully packaged, I can’t wait to hand the stylish little black & white bag over!
I like the mix of ‘high street’ & designer stores, it means there’s something for everyone. Joules & Gap are both wardrobe staples for us, & I was surprised at the vast selection of items in both stores-I wondered if ‘outlet’ meant that just the odd sizes or least popular colours would be on offer-but not so-there was actually a BETTER selection in many of the shops we visited in comparison to their high street family. In Joules I picked up a really cute summer outfit for Annie-her first little pair of flip flops, she hasn’t taken them off yet! There’s a great mix of different stores, from beauty- L’occitane being one of my favourites-to homewears such as Denby & Christy.
We couldn’t resist popping into Cadbury & Lint stores as well, we stocked up on Easter gifts & of course some treats to eat on the day!
Gap is perfect for us as you can shop for the whole family in one store. Everything from pj’s to babygrows. Personally I’m always drawn to their basics-their cotton tee’s are really good quality. Not to mention the fact that the whole store had an extra 20%-30% off of the (already slashed) ticket prices, so they were brilliant value. I now can’t wait for summer as I absolutely love their 100% cotton dresses!
When we visited the queue for the tills was right round the store(testament to the bargains!), we chose not to pick anything up as it was the end of the day & I didn’t want to make the kids stand around any longer than necessary for fear of meltdowns(theirs or mine!)-I was on my own with them & just know when to draw the line!
I was on the lookout for a shirt for Nigel in Ralph Lauren and it would have been easy to compile and entire outfit-as everything is so stylish & classic. (It’s a huge store with everything from towels to handbags!) Will helped me pick out a few things he thought Daddy would like so we could show him when we got home!
Nigel has a stag weekend next month & needs a wardrobe update, but as he couldn’t make it with us on this occasion we’re going to pop back together sans children he can spend some time trying everything on everything they have to offer.
Shopping makes you hungry, & Gunwharf kindly arranged a complimentary lunch for us at Brasserie Blanc. A beautiful, fresh modern restaurant with cuisine to match!
The staff were so attentive-especially to the children-sometimes it can be a little nerve wracking taking them to anywhere other than a burger bar, but we needn’t have worried, they gave them crayons to keep them occupied & talked us through the menu so we could select foods we knew they’d enjoy. I went for the traditional roast lamb, It was so tasty, the puddings were out of this world, we were presented with their signature soufflé-a pistachio one..not what I’d usually go for but it was delicious-we’ll definitely be back!
We broke up the day with a bit of fun. Firstly we had a ride on the ‘mini ports’ the cutest little boats, the kids all argued over who was going to be captain, but Will had it under control and didn’t want to get off!
Next, we headed to the Spinnaker tower, it didn’t disappoint, it was a fairly clear day and the views across the solent were breathtaking! Admission is very reasonably priced for a family, there is even a cafe at the top of you want to sit for a while and take in the view.
It was such an incredible structure, and the girls stepped into the glass floor in trepidation, but Annie was soon skipping across it, stopping briefly to watch the shoppers below.
Staff were really friendly and knowledgeable and we learned a lot about the tower. Poppy & Will even had a go with a VR Headset, apparently it was very realistic(Will was NOT keen!)
Whether you’re a couple looking to dine and shop or a family planning a great day out, Gunwharf has it all. We could have done with another whole day to do and see everything, Nigel & I have stayed in the on site hotel in the past which is a brilliant idea if you’re a family(or have lots of heavy shopping bags you want to deposit!!). We’ll be back very soon to see what bargains we can pick up, stock changes constantly so there’s always something new to catch your eye!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our little day trip!
Lots of love,
As previously mentioned, we were given a gift card to enjoy our day at Gunwharf Quays, but all words & opinions are my own and a true reflection of our experience there.