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.
Love Brownies opens new cafe and shop in St Albans
Love Brownies, a Yorkshire Dales-inspired chocolate brownie company, is to open a beautiful café and brownie shop in the heart of St Albans,creating a number of jobs and adding a premium brand to St Albans’ bustling high street.
Established in 2009, Love Brownies is known for its decadent brownies and delicious seasonal menus. Originating in the Yorkshire Dales, the brand has a growing network of brownie shops and cafés, with St Albans being the fifteenth to open in the UK. So what makes Love Brownies so outrageously delicious? It’s no secret: they bake each one individually, by hand, using the best ingredients possible.
The Love Brownies Range
The new Love Brownies shop in St Albans will offer a mouth watering menu of indulgent handmade chocolate brownies in a variety of tempting flavours, magnificent brownie milkshakes (with vegan alternatives), a range of premium, freshly-brewed coffees and the bold flavours of Northern Bloc ice cream.
Love Brownies’ Head Baker and Owner, Chantal Teal said: “The St Albans shop will be our first to open in Hertfordshire and we’re so excited to bring our award-winning brownies and delicious Dales-inspired menu to a brand new audience.
Inside Love Brownies St Albans
The inside of a Love Brownies is a unique blend of a cafe and shop. St Albans residents can pop in to the cafe for a drink and one of their fabulous brownies. Love Brownies merchandise and products can also be purchased in store. These include Love Brownies tea towels, Love Brownies mugs and Love Brownies aprons.
For those on the go, a delicious ‘Dales Kitchen’ breakfast and lunch menu with pastries and jam-packed sandwiches will also be available for St Albans residents.
Love Brownies’ Head Baker and Owner, Chantal Teal also said “The shop is in a fantastic location and we’re anticipating a busy summer! We’re so pleased to be bringing business into the area during a time that has been so difficult for so many and can’t wait to be a part of the St Albans community.”
Where to find Love Brownies in St Albans?
The new Love Brownies café will be located at Number 1, Market Place and will open to the public at 8am on Wednesday 21 July. For more information about Love Brownies or to see a sample menu visit www.lovebrownies.co.uk or follow @lovebrowniesbakery on Facebook and Instagram.
Bedford to get Euros final to make Italians feel more at home
After overcoming Denmark to reach the European final, England and their fans excitement to play Italy in the English home of football may have been dashed. UEFA have decided to move home advantage from England to Italy by demanding the Euros 2020 final takes places at Meadow Lane, Bedford instead of Wembley. Bedford is unofficially referred to a Britain’s ‘little Italy’ thanks to it large Italian population.
Why switch from Wembley to Bedford?
One of the talking points of England’s win over Denmark was the clear advantage England had over the Danes. With over 58,034 of the supporters at the game being England fans compared to the Danes 1,966, UEFA have decided that they want to remove home advantage away from England. According to UEFA’s Fair Play officials Stan Dupp and Fumagalli Enzo, switching the Euro 2020 finals from Wembley to Bedford means Italy can also benefit from playing on home soil at the same time as England.
Can Meadow Lane host 60,000 plus fans?
Absolutely not. But that is not a problem as Bedford High street will be pedestrianised and large screens will be erected all the way down to the embankment.
Ahead of the clash, England fans heading to Bedford have been advised to brush up on their Italian so we have created a ‘Nine step guide to speaking Italian’ below. These are probably the only nine words you will need to know for the game.
Nine steps to speaking Italian
Wendover welcomes Bel & The Dragon at The Red Lion opening
Today marks the opening of Bel & The Dragon at The Red Lion in the historic market town of Wendover. Located in Buckinghamshire, it becomes the seventh site in the popular Bel & The Dragon group.
Located in the centre of Wendover, in the foothills of the Chilterns, the new country inn will emulate Bel & The Dragon’s distinctly cosy and classic manner and will be managed by Matt Coupland, an experienced General Manager.
Inside Bel & The Dragon at The Red Lion Wendover
With 23 beautiful en suite bedrooms and an extensive selection of fine wine and British food, Bel & The Dragon at The Red Lion will be a sought-after destination for weekday and weekend breaks. Bel & The Dragon at The Red Lion is a historic grade II-listed coaching inn with stunning features dating back to 1669 and possibly earlier, with much of the original building still standing.
Bel & The Dragon at The Red Lion has been sensitively restored this year, with the aim of providing a premium, contemporary English inn, with sophisticated charm and historic character and also offers alfresco dining with 160 covers in a beautifully created covered and heated patio area.
Dining at Bel & The Dragon Wendover
With an emphasis on provenance and quality, our team of talented chefs have created a menu full of modern adaptations of simple classics. Think Devonshire mussels in a cider and bacon broth to start, followed by sustainable Cornish fish and crayfish pie or salt-baked saddle of lamb with seasonal vegetables to share, as well as a range of daily specials.
The pudding menu will be full of theatre, including the Bel & The Dragon classic of a flaming Baked Alaska, served with salted caramel ice cream, providing a perfect end to any meal.
As with all Bel & The Dragon sites, Bel & The Dragon at The Red Lion will offer an outstanding selection of wines at competitive prices. In addition, the comprehensive From the Cellar list includes some of the greatest vintages of the world’s most sought-after wines, and the use of the Coravin system allows guest to sample rare wines by the glass.
Word from the General Manager
Matt Coupland, who is originally from Lincoln, moved down to join Fuller’s eight years ago at The Paper Mill at Apsley Lock near Hemel Hempstead. After completing the Fuller’s Management Training Programme, and having acted as a holding manager at The Paper Mill, he moved to The Six Bells at Thame for his first general manager appointment. He subsequently moved to The Red Lion in Wendover and has played a key role in its transformation to a Bel & The Dragon.
Matt said: “This is a dream come true for me – it’s a fantastic site, in a great area, and Bel & The Dragon is an outstanding brand. I can’t wait to bring our fantastic menu and excellent wine list to the great and good of Wendover, and our stunning bedrooms to those who want to come and visit.
“I’m really looking forward to welcoming back locals and visitors alike and to working with the local neighbourhood to ensure Bel & The Dragon at The Red Lion takes a place at the very heart of the community.”
Directions to Bel & The Dragon at The Red Lion Wendover
Located in the centre of Wendover, in the foothills of the Chilterns, Bel & The Dragon at The Red Lion is an easy commute from within Beds, Bucks & Herts.
Bel & The Dragon at The Red Lion address
9 High St, Wendover, Aylesbury HP22 6DU