St James Quarter – Edinburgh

I’ve been desperate to get through to see the new St James Quarter in Edinburgh since it opened in July and I finally managed a visit a few weeks ago. If you haven’t heard, it’s a new £1bn development in the heart of the city with shops, restaurants, accommodation and a cinema spanning across 850,000 sq ft or in other words, heaven on earth. Expectations were high and as with anything with a lot of hype and hysteria surrounding it, I wasn’t sure it would be anything special however expectations were exceeded and I was honestly blown away by it.

First off, it’s brought some of my favourite stores such as Stradivarius, & Other Stories, Bershka and Pull and Bear to Scotland. We’ve never had these shops on our doorstep having only browsed them while in London, Milan or Paris previously. Sure they were accessible online however shopping in store let’s you see things differently and often you’ll spot something you would otherwise have scrolled past.

Secondly, the stores are laid out in a minimal and aesthetically pleasing way. There is loads of space and things are neatly placed enabling you to actually see them without having to move things out of the way in the process. Shopping habits have definitely changed and convenience is key. I’ve only physically been to the shops a handful of times this year and every time I’ve left feeling underwhelmed and disappointed by what’s available. I couldn’t see myself navigating another in store sale ever again however sale shopping at the St James Quarter is a much more attractive prospect.

Thirdly and deserving of it’s own slot, the Zara is out of this world. Two of my all time pet peeves about in store shopping at Zara are the customer service (or lack thereof) and the clutter. This store has self serve checkouts meaning you don’t have to engage with staff, what a luxury. The changing rooms are massive with loads available so less chance of having to wait. There’s a separate desk for returns meaning the normal checkouts are kept for in store purchases only. The layout of the store and placement of products is incredible. You can see all the items neatly on the rails and easily find your size. They don’t have shoes and bags hidden underneath clothes or out of reach. They are visible on shelves and clearly on display. They’ve really thought it out and I hope other stores will be refurbished with the same approach.

The only part we didn’t visit was the food hall. There was a small queue for entry and we were hangry and impatient by this point so headed to Starbucks instead for a quick tea break. I’ve only heard good things about the food hall and being able to try foods from various stalls and menus sounds right up my street.

The best thing I found about St James Quarter in general was the customer service. I had pre-booked Guest Mobility Services and they were in touch prior to the visit giving helpful information about exactly where to park to find them. On arrival they couldn’t have been more accommodating and made sure we knew how to use the equipment and took us along to the lifts to start our visit. After a first whizz round all the stores, we decided to do a second round and make some purchases. Pushing a wheelchair and carrying shopping bags is not an easy task especially when some of the items were delicate and fragile. We stopped by Guest Services who helped us set up DropIt which for £5 allows you to shop hands free, leaving all your purchases either at the checkout desk of each store (note – not all stores offer this facility) or by dropping the bags at the various DropIt desks throughout the centre. You can either collect your bags at the end of your visit or have all your purchases delivered to your home anywhere in the UK which is incredible. This is particularly handy if you bought anything bulky or heavy or are on a city break and travelling on public transport or limited by baggage restrictions on the plane. It takes all the hassle out of shopping and means you can enjoy your day to the fullest. The staff were incredible and helped us back to the car with our purchases which was greatly appreciated.

More shops are due to open between now and December including Harrods Beauty which is another first for Scotland. I can’t wait to visit again and do some Christmas shopping with everything you could possibly need under one roof.