on January 8, 2013
McArthurGlen is Europe's leading designer outlet operator with many centres across the UK, France, Austria, Holland and Italy. This review concerns the Livingston branch.When I first moved to Livingston it was a very young new town. The Almondvale centre had just opened with a grand total of 2 supermarkets, a few shoe shops, a bakers and a few various other establishments. Bleak is the word that springs to mind. Changed days now. These days, only Edinburgh surpasses Livi in the Lothians for shopping facilities, and I think East Kildride is the only place in Scotland which has a bigger covered mall.Opened in 2000, the most recent addition (as far as indoor shopping goes) is the McARTHUR GLEN Outlet Mall. This is Scotland's largest designer outlet with over 100 shops, a cinema, restaurants and bars all under one glass roof.You can't miss MacGlen. It's a question of turning off at the Centre Interchange on the main spinal road (A899) and driving straight along. You can actually see MacGlen from the spinal road anyway, its big glass dome is visible from a good distance away. Parking's not a problem either, with plenty of ground level parking all around and a massive multi-storey at the far end.MacGlen is an outlet mall and therefore isn't home to things like supermarkets etc. What it does have, is a multitude of designer-name stores such as...och, I'd be here all day if I listed the stores. Take it from me, lots of big name stores are there, and all of them offering big discounts on their merchandise. Of course, that doesn't always mean cheap. Armani manage to still have rip-off prices on some really minging gear (but then what does a style-challenged bumpkin like me know about that sort of thing?).Fashion's probably the main attraction for people coming to MacGlen. As I said, many big names are represented here, from Aquascutum to Windmoor. But there are other goodies on offer too. There's Revlon for your cosmetic needs, or if you've overdone it with the slap, how about a power-sander from the Black & Decker shop? Or if make-up just won't solve your appearance problems, Antler and Samsonite do a natty line in bags...and suitcases.What's that? You say that's like the kettle calling the pot black? No problem. All your pot and kettle needs can be satisfied in the home furnishing area - an open-plan space which houses a collection of retailers pandering to the home decor enthusiast. Edinburgh Crystal, Denby, various furniture suppliers and obviously, or my weak link would've been even weaker, kitchen goods.There are plenty of sports and outdoor shops too, if that's your bag. Regatta, Reebok and Tog 24 to name but three - there are probably a half-dozen more.There are also toy shops in the form of an ELC and a Toyworld but only one book shop - Banana books; a Virgin music store: candle shops; paper shops; chocolatiers; a fitness centre; and with various Costa Coffees (or whatever) dotted around, the list is endless. Actually, it's not, because I'm ending it here. If you want to know what's there and what's not, you can have a peek at the website: http://www.mcarthurglen.com/centres/home.cfm centre=livingstonOf course, it's not up-to-date and some of the shops listed aren't there anymore, while other ones that aren't listed are. Confused? You will be.For me though, the best part about MacGlen isn't being able to buy overpriced clothes at an almost reasonable price. While I have been known to nip up (I live just a five minute walk away) and purchase the odd t-shirt (and sometimes one that's not odd), I like the entertainment side of it.The mall consists of two thoroughfares, with the open-plan home furnishing area at one end, and another thoroughfare at right angles at the opposite end. It's this opposite thoroughfare, under the big glass dome, which is home to a number of bars, restaurants and the cinema.The cinema is a multi-plex and in total seats around 1800 hardy souls. It's sited on the upper level, and this is where you'll also find a vast array of fast-food outlets. All the big names are there, except KFC, but they've opened a new place around 200m away in a retail park.Downstairs there are restaurants which are arranged around a central water feature and sculpture underneath the dome. A little further along the thoroughfare is where you're most likely to find me, propping up the bar in Wetherspoons - enjoying a foaming pint of ale and discussing the burning issues of the day. Or just getting quietly sloshed. Where you won't find me is across the road in The Chicago Rock Bar - pure numptyville.MacGlen is open from 9am to 6pm Monday to Saturday (8pm Thursday), and 11am to 6pm Sunday. The entertainment area is open till midnight.There's an information kiosk close to the dome where you have handy little maps of the mall, as well as tourist information for the surrounding area. There are also a row of cash machines here should you need some of the folding stuff.In conclusion, MacGlen is an attractive proposition for a day out - it must be, because it's always busy. I suppose though, the added attraction of this outlet centre over so many others, is that it's not in the middle of nowhere. However, although it's in a town centre, it's under 2 miles along a dual carriageway from junction 3 of the M8, so access is really easy.The fact that it's in the town centre means that you've also got a more regular mall of around 150 shops alongside, not to mention a couple of retail parks, hotels, nightclubs, parks and even a premier league football stadium in the immediate surroundings.The only downside is that, unless you're not very careful, going there can involve shopping...
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