Strolling through sun-baked streets, window shopping and soaking up the sights is all well and good in Rome or Madrid but this is England, so it’s good to know that Exeter does modern shopping centres (with their roofs and heating) really well. And thanks to the Guildhall Shopping Centre, Exeter also boasts a stunning al fresco amphitheatre, which is a glorious place to shop, eat and watch the world go by when the sun does decide to come out.
Shopping centres in Exeter
A stunning conversion in the heart of Exeter, Guildhall brings together some of the city’s best shops and restaurants set around a beautifully restored Georgian neo-classical square.
Originally opened in 1976, Guildhall was given a stunning £7 million makeover recently and emerged completely reborn in 2017. This is much more than a shopping centre but more on that in a minute. First, let’s take a little retail tour.
If you’re looking for great value essentials, then your first port of call will probably be Primark. Spread across two floors, the affordable fashion superbrand caters for men, women and kids, and like all their branches, it’s always packed with bargain hunters. For a slightly more relaxed experience, head to Jigsaw for beautifully designed British casual wear or pick up something to pamper yourself with from The Body Shop.
Talking of pampering, did we mention that the Guildhall has its own spa? The Haven is a locally owned mini-chain with branches in Exeter and Kingsbridge and offers a tempting selection of beauty treatments and massages. It even has its own thermal suite featuring a sauna, jacuzzi, aroma room and intriguingly named rain dance shower.
Serious relaxation is harder than people think, so you’ll probably be feeling a little peckish by now and that’s where Guildhall really comes into its own. That’s because, alongside independent favourites like Coffee Pot and Ferns Cafeteria, it also boasts Queen Street; Exeter’s ultimate dining destination. Centred around the historic Market Square and overlooking the 12th-century St. Pancras church, this is a continental-style space where restaurants and bars spill out into the square itself. Pick up a menu, order yourself a cocktail and raise a glass to a great day’s shopping. And with our Exeter City Centre hotel just a leisurely eight-minute stroll away, you’ll have no trouble getting your shopping home.
This landmark development celebrated its 10th birthday in 2017 and has become a much-loved addition to Exeter’s thriving shopping scene.
With one of Britain’s most beautiful cathedrals as a neighbour, any modern building would have a hard job making its mark on the centre of Exeter. Princesshay meets this daunting challenge brilliantly. The award-winning development is home to over 70 shops, from international brands such as Apple and Gap to British favourites like All Saints and Neal’s Yard. You’ll find a great selection of local heroes too, including Devon beauty boutiqueThe Cove, which offers treatment rooms alongside handmade gifts and luxurious pampering products.
The pick of Europe’s best shops comes to Princesshay in the form of Danish shopping sensation Tiger. This maze-like store is a riot of colour and sells everything from art supplies and toys to homeware and cosmetics. And the real reason Tiger’s taken off in such a big way? Around 80% of everything they sell is less than £5.
Fans of high street fashion will love Princesshay’s selection of well-known favourites, including New Look, Zara, Topshop, Reiss, Hollister and more. That’s not to mention the UK’s largest Fat Face store. And when the shopping’s done, there’s no shortage of places to head to refuel. There are over a dozen restaurants to choose from, serving up everything from sushi to char-grilled steak and many have outdoor seating areas with views of the cathedral. But if you want the best spot in town to admire Exeter Cathedral’s gothic charms, then here’s a real insider’s tip; head to the café on the top floor of Debenhams. You won’t be disappointed.