I hate shopping. I will do pretty much anything to get out of going to a store or browsing online. So when I got invited to a sneak preview of the new Westfield Stratford City, Europe’s largest urban shopping center, I wasn’t sure if it would have anything for me. What exactly does a non-shopper do at a mall? I was curious to find out. So I went to east London to see for myself.
I arrived at the building site yesterday and met up with the other invitees in the Westifield’s management office. We saw a short presentation on the shopping mall, complete with information about access by public transport and new shops like The Sting, Forever 21, and Tommy Hilfiger’s first children’s retail store.
But it wasn’t the shopping information that caught my attention. It was everything else. Throughout the presentation and the subsequent site tour, I discovered that there are quite a few things with which a non-shopper can entertain herself at this new shopping center in London. Here are a few:
Restaurants at the Westfield Stratford City
In addition to retail shops, the shopping center is slated to have restaurants. I’m not super excited about the food court (McDonald’s. Bleh.), I am interested in the other dining options. Those include Wahaca, The Cow, Jamie’s Italian, Rhythm Kitchen, which will be a new Caribbean restaurant, and Franco Manca, which serves some of the best pizza in London.
Grocery Shopping at the Westfield Stratford City
In addition to restaurants, the Great Eastern Market will feature 16 small food retailers in a traditional market setup. There will be speciality providers and delicatessens, and the area will feature food demonstrations.
There is also going to be a gigantic Waitrose in case I want to subject myself to more expat grocery shopping experiences.
Olympics at the Westfield Stratford City
Once I get my food fix, I can also get my London 2012 Olympics fix. That is not least because the shopping center is right on the doorstep of the famous new Olympic stadiums. In fact, it’s so close that there is a walkway between them.
If I ever get Olympics tickets (doubtful after three failed attempts), the shopping center could be a starting point for the games. And if watching the events is as exhausting as participating in them (you never know!), there are three hotels at the shopping center where I can crash for the night.
Other Non-Shopping Stuff at the Westfield Stratford City
To entertain myself between now and the Olympics—and during the Olympics (Let’s be honest. I’m not getting any tickets.)—there are also a few other alternatives to shopping. One is a cinema. Another is a bowling alley, complete with a bar and restaurant. A third is a children’s play area. Okay, so they might not let me in to the last one, but it looks like a lot of fun.
When the tour of the building site ended, I took the tube back to central London. It didn’t take as long as I thought it would, but the distance from where I live means that I probably won’t be a regular at the new Westfield Stratford City. That said, I discovered enough non-shopping options that I might just have to pop back over for a visit when it officially opens on September 13th.