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With a PHD in fashion, a hair ambassadorship with L’Oréal Paris and a global audience, Victoria is the lady behind the award-winning fashion, travel and beauty blog, Inthefrow.

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How to Plan the Perfect Wellness Retreat at Bicester Village

This is a paid advertorial in collaboration with Bicester Village

24/01/18

Bicester Village Wellness Retreat

Shopping Mall’s are one of my favourite places to spend my time. Obviously. Lots of stores in the same area, often undercover or within a tiny walking distance, cafes dispersed here and there for refreshment and all of your favourite brands at your fingertips. Hence why Bicester Village has become the second most popular attraction in the UK. And low and behold, I have only visited once last week, for a dreamy wellness retreat and I am already itching to go back with Alex and my credit card.

Bicester Village is one of 11 collective villages in Europe and China owned by Value Retail. This one being located in the heart of beautiful Oxfordshire, accessible by a 46 minute direct train from London Marylebone. Who knew – I certainly didn’t or I would be there every weekend. The train drops you off pretty much on the doorstep and you start your walk down the one mile+ stretch of stores – it literally could not be more simple, so I’m annoyed I never researched this sooner. With 160 boutiques from the leading fashion and lifestyle brands, each offering exceptional value, discounts and savings of up to 60% on the RRP, it’s a shoppers haven. I saw not one but two pairs of my Dior shoes with savings of 40% off in the Dior store and my heart broke slightly.

But then when you want a rest from your shopping haul, there are a selection of cafe’s and restaurants to feed you for breakfast, lunch and dinner (why not make it a full day thang) plus valet parking, hand’s free shopping, a visitor centre and an onsite tax refund area if you’re shopping from abroad. I could go on, but feel free to find out about everything else Bicester Village has to offer on their website.

Yet, I don’t just want to tell you how to get to and from Bicester Village, but how you could make this into the most gorgeous wellness retreat weekend. That is what I just experienced and I am already thinking of ways to arrange to do this again for my Mum. So I thought I’d write everything down that we did, in a hope it might inspire your own retreat to the countryside.

Starting off the day, Bicester Village offers a VIP service by invitation only. Their gorgeous Apartment hosts special guests for the day with the most luxurious country interiors and wonderful service – but again you need to be invited along. If you book a personal shopping experience your consultation will take place in this space. But in honesty, there are so many other cafes to chill out in at Bicester Village, I think you will be fine to find somewhere else to sit and enjoy a moment off of your feet.
Fitness and Sports
Whilst shopping for some is a pretty fantastic and reputable sport, there are lots of other sports based stores and activities you could take part in if you fancy mixing in one of your usual hobbies with your shopping trip. We were lucky enough to take part in a yoga class wearing beautiful Lulu Lemon yoga gear – of which there is a boutique in the village. At the Lulu Lemon store, there are a number of Yoga events taking part at different times, so be sure to check here for an upcoming yoga event at the store.

But we did also take a trip into Rapha, the cycling enthusiast’s haven, where they have set up a set of Zwift bikes at the back of the boutique. Zwift bikes allow you to train indoors on a static bike, training alongside thousands of other people in their own homes who are also riding on the system. It’s like an Xbox live game, linking you with thousands of cyclists on a virtual track and allowing you to test your abilities against other riders. Such a brilliant idea and fantastic on those rainy days when you still want to cycle. Plus this store had a gorgeous cafe and a selection of vegan treats, so definitely worth popping in even if you don’t ride.

Boutiques
As I mentioned, there are 160 Boutiques at Bicester Village and they are constantly adding more. They have the biggest Ralph Lauren in the world, some of the best savings you will find anywhere and I’m pretty sure they have almost every brand you could name from kitchen goods to clothing to beauty and homeware. I found some of my own faves along the way including Dior, Balenciaga, the only Givenchy store in the UK, Celine, Saint Laurent and Acne. You will be spoiled for choice, honestly.
Daylesford Farm

Then onto Daylesford Farm. This is around 30 minutes drive from Bicester Village, so you may need a car with you in order to get there. Either that or order yourself a local cab and split the cost with whoever you is joining you. I promise it will be worth your trip. This is the most idyllic farm shop and cafe environment, with an abundance of home grown product from the Daylesford Farm on site, plus The Bamford Barn (clothing, body and home) for you to create the Daylesford look at home.

If I lived nearby, I would be here most days. A warm, friendly environment, locals enjoying their lunch and coffee dates with friends and the Bamford Haybarn Spa right next door for a treatment or two. It is just one of those places where you could spend a lot of your time and feel right at home. Plus, if you do like to eat meat, buying it from a place like this - where they rear and look after their animals in a more humane environment, is far more recommended than going to Tesco and buying value meat. Please do try to support local butchers and farms where you can.

Bamford Haybarn Spa
So picture this. You have been to Bicester Village for the morning, taken your car over to Daylesford Farm for a late lunch and now you can enjoy a number of treatments to end the day. Either that, or space this over a couple of days with a hotel stay in between… more on that below! But the Bamford Haybarn Spa is truly beautiful if you want to enjoy a relaxing retreat. The most stunning aesthetics, friendly staff and the wonderfully relaxing treatments. I could have spent the whole day in here.

We were treated to massages and facials, of which I fell asleep for the majority. And could then retire to the relaxation area looking out over the Oxfordshire countryside. But later, we also took a Meditation class. Whilst I’d love to say I was pretty great at this – I wasn’t. But I would look to practice more.

The White Rabbit Retreat
Get me back to this beautiful hotel immediately. This is what the countryside life is truly about. A cosy, friendly hotel, beautiful interiors and a warm fire in the hotel bar. The rooms were idyllic and so beautifully decorated, I could have spent a week here easily. I truly recommend this hotel if you’re looking for a really romantic, or special retreat away with a loved one. I would love to bring my Mum here to enjoy a little weekend away – perfect for Mothers Day!
Daylesford Cookery School
One final activity – ever fancied a cookery class? Daylesford offer an abundance of cookery classes depending on what you hope to learn – I’m not joking here, they can teach you pretty much anything. We took part in a class teaching us how to gut a fish, make fish broth from the leftovers, how to make Huevos Rancheros and also the most delicious Chia Chocolate pudding. The chef James was beyond wonderful, the kitchen we cooked in was the ultimate in homeware goals and the whole experience was just fantastic. I could not recommend this more!

Let’s just say I’m already trying to work out the logistics of my next retreat to Bicester Village. This trip truly opened my eyes to the beauty of the local area, the different activities to take part in and just how fantastic Bicester Village can be for a day trip. I cannot wait to return and I hope this post might have inspired you to plan your own retreat!

If you live nearby or know of any other gems in this local area that can be easily reached from Bicester Village, please do leave them in the comments for others to read and potentially add to their retreat itinerary!

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