Located at the heart of the town, Royal Victoria Place was opened by Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1992, and the décor is styled on the Regency period, so prevalent in Tunbridge Wells. It has plenty of parking. Everyone seems happy to shop here – it has a unique, satisfied atmosphere. With more than 90 top name stores, independent retailers and stalls, lots of cafes and restaurants spread over two floors, and a food court, it’s a place I love to visit and need little excuse.
In 2015, plans were released to redesign the centre, including adding an 8 screen cinema, more restaurants and larger shop units.
The spacious lower floor Food Court has good value fast food restaurants – McDonalds, KFC, Subway and so on, but it also houses Café Ismail, and The Nutmeg Tree Tearooms. This is a delightfully quaint tea shop offers great service and sumptuous cakes.
Throughout Royal Victoria Place there are little tucked away areas situated around coffee bars, where you can sit and sip coffee in peace, and there are some really good juice bars serving smoothies and fresh juices.
Naked Coffee is just outside, in Ely Court, and brews delicious coffee; a good book, and a large cappuccino and I’m happy.
Playworld soft play will keep the little ones entertained for hours, and just outside the centre is the state of the art Pure Gym, with everything you could want. To recover after your exercise session, there are some lovely pubs and bars around the outside of the Royal Victoria!
Christmas starts here with Santa’s Big Arrival and a visit to his Grotto, followed by a fabulously festive light show with dancing Storm Troopers (Star Wars) and celebrity guests. Several stores, including The Body Shop have pre Christmas sales and events lined up.
Royal Victoria Place has a good mix of high street shops and smaller independent retailers; Fenwick, Boots and Marks and Spencer have large presences and cover both floors. Generally the prices are good, and the shoppers tend to be quite affluent, and fashionable. Gap, H&M, Next, Hobbs and Superdry are all here, as well as Timberland, and Monsoon – there really are too many fashion retailers to list. Smiffy’s Serious Fun is a great gift shop to browse around, and Purple Piglet’s scarves are just right for winter warmth.
The stalls sell handcrafted wood and leather goods, gorgeous handmade soaps and sparkling jewellery - I’ve often found beautiful items at decent prices here.
The centre gets busy at weekends and school holidays, but is spacious enough not to feel crowded. Late night shopping is on Thursdays, but in the run up to Christmas shops stay open late every night.
On the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of every month there is a popular Farmer’s Market just outside the centre, selling mouth-watering produce from the Garden of England.
Mothers are provided with baby changing rooms, complete with microwaves and bottle warmers. Royal Victoria Place is a Child Safe Zone, and goes to great lengths to make sure everything is thought of; there is a Kids Club discount card offering savings in lots of stores, nursery and creche and Playworld soft play. Kiddy Karts are provided to ride around the centre on (or maybe carry your shopping bags!).
Family Friendly areas are situated in various places throughout, making sure everyone is safe and happy.
For disabled There are disabled toilets and mobility vehicles readily available, and the centre has made sure that everything is easily accessible, via lifts and ramps, with the concierge team always ready to help.
For the public there is free Wifi, and Euro change, payphones, passport photo booths, and cash points around the site, with the gym and Post Office located just outside. The car parks offer a washing/valet service whilst you’re shopping.
Parking at Royal Victoria Place is easy with more than 1750 (pay) spaces available at both Royal Victoria Place Car Park and Meadow Road Car Park, just across a road. There are mother & child/disabled bays all conveniently placed close to the lifts and main doors, and it’s all clearly signposted. Motorcycle/bicycle bays are provided. Mobile phone payments make things even easier, and the car washing/valet service means you can return to a sparkling car, with no hard work involved!
Tunbridge Wells is accessible via the A21 - the centre is clearly signposted. It is well served by rail services. Leave the station from the Mount Pleasant exit and a brief walk up Mount Pleasant will take you to the main entrance. Bus services are frequent and stop right outside.
Located in the heart of Tunbridge Wells, the Royal Victoria Place is close to everything the town has to offer; the Pantiles, famous for their health giving natural springs are just a short walk away. This elegant colonnaded walkway is full of fine dining establishments and tiny, tucked away retail gems – it’s not hard to see why the area has won so many awards. It has a lovely atmosphere, especially on a warm, sunny day. There are art galleries and cinemas, spooky ghost tours and Go Ape! High Rocks climbing experience situated about half a mile from the shopping centre. The surrounding countryside is full of historical attractions – Scotney Castle, and Finchcocks, near Goudhurst, are just two of many.
Tunbridge Wells is a safe place to walk around – obviously keep wallets, bags and phones safe, but I feel perfectly happy here, and don’t feel anxious at all. I love shopping here, and will seek out any excuse to come, so my main tip would be to write a comprehensive list and try to stick to it, or you’ll be going home with lots more bags than you intended.