As part of our ongoing guide to shopping in Beds, Bucks & Hertfordshire, we have created this guide to shopping in Watford. If you have not been to Watford before, this guide will give you an overview of where to go and what to expect when shopping in Watford post-covid.
Watford – A brief history lesson
Watford began as a settlement in the 12th century when a market was granted to the Abbot of St. Albans as the lord of the manor. He chose a site along a route already used by travellers, where the market continued to be held until 1928.
With employment high and most enjoying a reasonable income, the early 1960s saw a growth in consumerism. During the Swinging Sixties, Watford like many other places in Hertfordshire started to change into the town we know today. This period saw the birth of the Harlequin Shopping Centre – although not built until 1990, planning started as far back as 1963.
Since then, Watford has grown to become a popular shopping destination for people of all ages. Being home to Hertfordshire’s largest shopping mall, Watford is also well known for its football club and its popular tourist destinations. These include the Harry Potter Studio tour at Warner Bros Film Studios and Cassiobury Park.
Shopping destinations in Watford
Watford has three main shopping destinations. The main shopping centre is intu Watford. The second shopping destination is Watford High Street which is also home to the third, New Watford Market.
1. intu Watford
Formerly known as The Harlequin Shopping Centre, intu Watford has undergone some major changes recently. Coronavirus has hit Hertfordshire’s largest shopping destination hard. The large Debenhams has gone and will be replaced by The Beauty Hall by Next, an upmarket beauty hall being launched by fashion retailer Next. John Lewis Watford closed in July and there have been some other closures to restaurants and small retailers.
Despite the closures and with over 25 fashion retailers over two floors, intu Watford is still a favourite destination amongst fashionistas. Stores include Accessorize, Aldo, Hugo Boss, Clarks, Ernest Jones, Fatface, H&M, Hollister, Jack Wills, Jack & Jones, JD, Joules, Kurt Geiger, Levi’s, New Look, Next, Office, Phase Eight, River Island, Superdry and many more.
2. Watford High Street
If intu Watford is for the fashionistas, Watford High Street is for the foodies. Watford High Street is still extremely busy despite the drop in footfall due to COVID. Many of the restaurants that reopened after the lockdown are still relatively busy. They are operating with social distancing measures which mean they are limited to the number of diners they can host at any time. Our favourite Watford restaurants include:
- TGI Fridays – Watford Central
- Five Guys Watford
- Côte Brasserie
- The Florist Watford
The good news is Watford Bid has been working in the background to ensure shopping in Watford is safe. From supporting many of the local retailers with track and trace to installing social distancing signage, the Watford Bid team have been busy in the local area and online.
3. New Watford Market
Another shopping destination in Watford is New Watford Market. Unlike the traditional markets, New Watford Market combines a mixture of inside units and street stalls. These stalls offer a range of products and world foods. The design of New Watford Market has been the subject of local debate. The inside units were made from 42 recycled shipping containers. This means some units have only one side for entry and exit.
New Watford Market has been hit-and-miss with locals and some of the traders themselves. The concept is great for artisan stalls and micro-businesses. Traditional market traders prefer open spaces with lots of footfall. Unfortunately, New Watford Market doesn’t have a lot of either.
Travelling to Watford
Watford has great transport links by car or rail. Watford has three stations bearing the name Watford. There is Watford Junction, Watford High Street and Watford Station. Watford Junction is served by both train and London Overground services from Central London. The main train terminus is London Euston Station, and the National Rail train service takes about 20 minutes. The Overground train service takes around 50 minutes.
Watford High Street is a London Overground station with fast links to Euston. Watford High Street also connects to the interchange at Watford Junction, just one stop to the north. Situated in the south end of Watford’s busy High Street, the station is just minutes’ walk from the shops, including intu Watford Shopping Centre.
Parking in Watford
Parking in Watford is pretty easy and we will start with the easiest place to park, the intu Watford car park. intu Watford has 4 individual car parks, totalling 2,773 parking spaces. These include disabled and parent and child spaces. Passenger lifts and escalators give easy access from each car park directly to the shopping centre.
Right next door to Watford High Street is CitiPark Church. With great access to intu Watford and IMAX Cineworld, CitiPark Church is located on Exchange Road, Watford and has over 550 spaces.
Depending on the time you visiting Watford, you can park on some of the residential roads but ensure you have either paid where applicable. Pay attention to parking during enforcement times – Watford Borough Council is notoriously known for strict parking enforcement.
If you don’t mind walking, parking is also available at Watford Junction Station. There are 763 parking spaces at the mainline station. Again, slightly pricey but cheaper than a parking ticket.
Shopping with kids in Watford
If you are shopping with children in Watford, there are a number of places and activities to keep them entertained. The No.1 destination for kids in Watford is Rock Up Watford. Located in intu Watford, Rock Up is the thrilling indoor climbing centre. It is strongly advised to book in advance especially for busy times such as weekends and school holidays.
A brand new Bingo Brunch experience is coming to Watford’s Barrio
On 5th November, the newly opened Barrio venue will launch its bingo brunch concept, La Isla Bonita 80s Brunch, in Watford. Translating to ‘The beautiful island’, La Isla Bonita Brunch aims to recreate that perfect tropical holiday feeling, with food and cocktails galore, bingo mayhem and 80s music all afternoon-long.
Already a popular party experience at Barrio Shoreditch, the 80s themed musical brunch is scheduled to run every Saturday from 12pm, and will include a two-course brunch, welcome cocktail and a variety of bottomless drinks (prosecco, spiced rum sangria and Sol beer).
Once guests have finished tucking into a menu of delicious burgers, including Queso Libre as a vegetarian option and Saint and Sinner as the vegan burger plus Barrio Churros, the musical bingo commences, brought to life by a captivating host and nostalgic 80s tunes by Barrio’s best DJs. Brunch goers can expect witty bingo calls, group singalongs and impromptu tableside performances. Prizes for winning the brunch also include a very tasty £100 bar tab.
For £35 per person, over-21s can enjoy 90 minutes of bottomless drinks and then eat, bingo and party until 5pm.
Those interested can book the first La Isla Bonita 80s Brunch at Barrio Watford for a special launch price of £25 (valid for 5th and 12th Nov brunch dates).
More about Barrio Watford
On 20th October 2022, Barrio Familia opened its first out-of-London venue in Watford, bringing Latin-inspired cocktails, authentic Mexican eats, a killer happy hour offering, live entertainment and DJs, plus an immersive 80s Bingo Bottomless Brunch.
Following the announcement of the group’s flagship site, and world’s largest tequila bar, in Covent Garden which is set to launch in early November, Barrio Familia has opened Watford’s first Tequila bar this month.
Bringing the spirit of the Latin Quarter into Watford, the new venue will have space for up to 200 guests to enjoy a brand new, freshly crafted cocktail menu, delicious Mexican inspired food creations, including their signature tacos, and famous Latino party vibes.
The outside terrace is also being turned into Barrio’s popular tropical yard, offering the perfect space for another 80 guests to gather with like-minded ‘amigos’ and sip cocktails, enjoy a meal and experience a fiesta like never before.
Barrio Familia was acquired by Nightcap in November 2021 and has since gone from strength to strength. New venues; Barrio Watford and Barrio Covent Garden will add to their growing portfolio of sites in Shoreditch, Soho, Angel, and Brixton. After opening the first Barrio site in 2007, the group’s vision was to have a Barrio in every big party neighborhood in the UK and Watford will play a huge role in that exciting expansion.
Each of the Barrio Bars sites offer a full-colour, full-flavour experience, and of course, plenty of Tequila. The group plans to open seven days a week and be the perfect new spot in Watford for all occasions, from lunches and daytime drinks to brunches and late night partying.
Jim Robertson, Managing Director of Barrio Familia, commented:
“We are incredibly excited to be taking our Latino party outside of London for the first time. This is a fantastic venue and we can’t wait to welcome the residents of Watford into the Barrio familia and bring the party! I believe Barrio will be a fantastic addition to Watford High Street that will suit all types of occasions and bring a feel good bar that welcomes everyone. We have some amazing things planned for Barrio Watford, so watch this space and get ready for the biggest fiesta in town!”
The Wellness Hub in Berkhamsted welcomes IV Boost therapy clinic
IV Boost – a renowned IV therapy clinic on London’s Wimpole Street – has opened at The Wellness Hub in Berkhamsted. Founded in 2005 by medical director Dr Joshua Berkowitz, IV Boost takes a holistic approach to health and wellness to help boost and restore the body’s natural ability to be well, energised and able to resist ageing.
“We are delighted to welcome Dr Josh and the IV Boost to The Wellness Hub and are excited to be offering our customers these fantastic IV therapies,” says Emma James, MD and owner The Wellness Hub on Lower Kings Street. “IV Boost prides itself on its medical skills and personalised approach which mirrors our commitment to offering bespoke wellbeing solutions. I have no doubt its services will prove popular in complementing and enhancing our existing range of therapies which include physiotherapy, massage, beauty therapy, sports massage, Pilates, personal training and yoga.”
“We have been very impressed by The Wellness Hub and have been made most welcome here,” says Dr Joshua Berkowitz. “IV therapy is increasingly popular as a means to achieving optimum health and we have been looking for a new clinic outside London to meet the growing demand for our services.
“The Wellness Hub is the perfect site for IV Boost and we look forward to meeting its customers. We recognise that IV therapy will be new to many people and clients can rest assured they will have a consultation before any therapy to ensure it suits their exact needs.”
IV Vitamin Therapy
Intravenous (IV) Vitamin Therapy has been practised for many years, often to support conventional medical treatment of a wide range of health conditions. It is the fastest way to deliver nutrients throughout the body because it bypasses the digestive system and is 90-100% absorbed directly into the organs (compared to 20-50% absorption if taken orally).
A vitamin shot is an intramuscular injection that treats various vitamin deficiencies. It is absorbed into your bloodstream via your muscles. Unlike vitamins taken orally, vitamin shots bypass the digestive system and result in a 90-100% absorption rate. Many people feel the effects within hours of the treatment which takes just a few minutes to administer.
Medical grade ozone is a highly active and reactive form of oxygen which is prepared by a highly skilled practitioner just before being administered. Ozone therapy can restore optimum oxygen levels in the body by increasing the red blood cell count and this, in turn, stimulates the release of oxygen into the body’s tissues.
Diagnostic testing gives a very clear picture of your health and can help pinpoint problems that may be missed through consultation or ‘standard’ blood tests offered by GPs. IV Boost uses a leading London laboratory which offers a very quick turnaround of precise, accurate results.
IV Boost can deliver a range of non-surgical treatments to enhance the appearance and treat the visible signs of ageing. These rejuvenating treatments use the latest evidence-based products and cutting-edge technology to deliver safe, effective and long-lasting effects. Performed to the highest standard, each treatment plan is tailored to address individual concerns to optimise results.
About IV Boost
IV Boost is located in The Wellness Hub, 26 Lower kings road, Berkhamsted, Herts, HP4 2AE
Air Aesthetics & Wellness opens in Christopher Place St Albans
Air Aesthetics & Wellness is a brand new, state-of-the-art clinic in St Albans’ Christopher Place that’s just been launched by Dr Claire Oliver. It promises to bring a touch of ‘Harley Street to Hertfordshire’ with its doctor-led, FDA-cleared treatments that not only help with skin health and rejuvenation from the inside out but also collagen banking and even guaranteed fat loss. Air Aesthetics & Wellness strap-line is: “Still You, but on a really good day.”
What does ‘Still You, but on a really good day’ mean?
Air Aesthetics & Wellness prides itself on its holistic, ethical, and natural results approach to aesthetics and wellness. They strive for beauty and confidence from the inside out and help clients to be the best version of themselves through a 360-degree approach encompassing advanced clinical skincare and rejuvenation, clinical facials, beauty treatments, diet and nutrition, and – just as important – exercise. In short, it’s their aim to turn back time, making you a fresher version of your best self.
The luxury clinic offers pioneering, FDA-approved aesthetic treatments that are not only doctor-led, but that deliver proven and safe results without the need for invasive surgery and downtime. Alongside the treatments, there is a dedicated Wellness Clinic offering advice on nutrition, functional medicine, Menopause/HRT, and intimate female treatments associated with ageing.
Dr Oliver and her team have worked hard for over a decade in Henley in Arden and Birmingham and have won many major awards including ‘Best Clinic – Midlands and Wales’ in the 2021 Aesthetics Awards. They are hopeful that St Albans will be equally well received.
Air Aesthetics is doctor-led. What does that actually mean?
It means they can offer the best, advanced skin rejuvenation treatments available – and you can be safe in the knowledge that you are being treated by a highly trained doctor. Dr Claire Oliver (pictured) is both Medical Director (GDC 70918), and founder, and still leads the clinic. Claire has over 20 years’ experience as an aesthetics practitioner and has dedicated her professional career to the study of skin health and ageing. She remains passionate that healthy skin really is at the heart of looking good, feeling great and being confident in your own skin.
Dr Oliver is supported in St Albans by Dr Zartash Badar, as well as a team of highly skilled, medical aestheticians – three of whom have been employed from the local St Albans area.
What brings you to St Albans?
“I’m extremely excited about launching our clinic in St Albans. We’ve invested over £750,000 in the clinic and will bring Harley Street standards to Hertfordshire. Our mission, at Air, is to make it much easier for clients in St Albans to access doctor-led, 360-degree skin rejuvenation and fat loss solutions in a beautiful clinic environment – without the need to trek into central London,” said Dr Oliver.
What has surprised you most about St Albans?
“We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the welcome we’ve already received in St Albans: from our neighbours in Christopher Place to residents dropping in, saying hello and stopping to speak. We are keen to partner or work collaboratively with local businesses to create interesting events enhancing the experience St Albans offers – so we’d welcome people to drop by and speak to us,” added Dr Oliver.