Do you want to know a secret? Shopping at Westfield is an immensely satisfying experience. No, really it is! Everything you could conceivably need is in one place, you’re protected from the elements, and you never have to wait at a pedestrian crossing to get to a shop a few feet away. There’s an Apple store, which is a godsend if you live locally and your Apple device goes up the spout, and the range of food outlets is pretty good too. Basically, it’s the retail experience you’ve always wanted, but you might not have realised it yet.
Shopping is like sex: if you’re not enjoying it, then you’re not doing it properly. And the commonest error most Westfield detesters make is going there at its busiest time. Anywhere can be annoying when it’s packed, and while I can’t make the crowds magically disappear for you, I can give you a couple of tips. The first is: go by bike. That way you’ll avoid queuing to get in the car park. My second tip is the divulging of another secret: inside the Westfield complex there is a bike parking area which is more secure than the one outside, but it isn’t mentioned on the centre’s website and it isn’t signposted anywhere. I only stumbled upon it because I am incredibly nosy.
To find it, ride along the bus lane that passes by Shepherd’s Bush Tube station.
About halfway along, you’ll see the entrance to the valet parking service.
Go in, and head straight past the barrier.
Then, when you see a sign for the carwash, dismount.
Walk around the sign, and voilà!
You have reached the hidden bike parking area which is within sight of the carwash’s office…
…and barely anyone knows about it. Apart from, it seems, the employees of a certain fashion retailer. I know this because there is a sign denoting the company uses the facility…
…although you should observe that it doesn’t say the area is exclusively for their usage. And besides, it’s an internet retailer. They want you to stay at home and shop instead of literally getting on your bike and going to your local gargantuan retail park. Think of it as a victory for fitness and claim your parking space, like this cyclist did.
(He or she is being a little harsh on themselves. The bike wasn’t that bad.)