Charlotte is a freelance writer and stylist living in London. Do also have a look at her Fashion Blog at www.fashionfetishism.com
Published September 26th 2013
I arrive in Kildare Village (one of nine Chic Outlet Shopping® Villages in Europe by Value Retail) and for a moment I need to check that I really am at an outlet shopping centre. I'm standing between several barn-style buildings in the middle of the rolling green countryside of Kildare, Ireland, on a beautifully sunny Saturday. The spacious stone walkway is adorned with miniature hedges, the occasional piece of garden furniture and wrought-iron lamp posts decked with hanging flower baskets. People, mostly families pushing prams, are wandering around carrying shopping bags while somewhere in the distance a fountain gurgles soothingly.
But there's no mistaking the names on the charmingly rustic boutique facades: Karen Millen, SuperDry, Coast…and the essential Starbucks up ahead of me behind a statue of a pair of Irish Wolfhounds (no real dogs allowed on site, but there are complimentary kennels). Upon my arrival I had noticed a heavenly-smelling Crêperie Angélie by the entrance and decided to go back later, but for now it was time to shop.
Usually I find the shops on a Saturday afternoon have too many people in them but despite an almost full car-park, Kildare Village barely seems crowded. I'm not sure if it's because of how spread out the shopfronts are or because the walkways between are outdoors. Or maybe it's because most of the children seem to be out of the way in the playground around the corner. Whatever the reason the stores had virtually no queues.
I decide to check out the Jack Wills store and I'm delighted to find that prices are significantly lower than high-street prices while it's also decent size with a good selection of products. Eventually I purchase a shirt (using a handy 10% off voucher I was gifted upon arrival!) and wander back outside to explore the rest of the shops.
I'm pleased to discover prices are consistently low while service is speedy and helpful. Eventually I break up my day of shopping with a glass of wine and a bagel at Dunne & Crescenzi before heading back out to pillage more great deals at the remaining shops. At one point I seriously consider buying a Samsonite suitcase to carry everything ( €100 less than normal retail price!).
Getting to Kildare Village was surprisingly easy. I made use of their coach service (€10 return from Dublin). For those coming by car there's a large car-park and the outlet is handily located next to the M7, just outside of Kildare Town proper (you can actually walk to it from the shops). For those who want to venture beyond the shops there is also the Kildare Town Heritage Centre, the historic Round Tower, St Brigid's Cathedral and the Irish National Stud and Horse Museum, home to top thoroughbred horses. Having seen them all before myself I can say they're all well worth a visit.
Finally, just before the bus back I managed to find the time to run by the Crêperie Angélie to get a (heavenly!) bannanatella crêpe to go. Delicious.