Popular Shopping Destinations, Solihull, Warwickshire Life

PUBLISHED: 23:46 07 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:08 20 February 2013

Crescent Arcade

Crescent Arcade

The summer's here, the sun is shining and the shops are open! What better reasons do you need for a visit to Solihull. Warwickshire Life editor Colin Clark heads for one of the region's most popular shopping destinations.

The summer's here, the sun is shining and the shops are open! What better reasons do you need for a visit to Solihull. Warwickshire Life editor Colin Clark heads for one of the region's most popular shopping destinations.

Solihull's motto, Urbs in Rure, translates to Town in the Country and there is no doubt that, for parks, green space and surrounding countryside, the town is indeed well blessed.

But in these days when shopping is almost as much a hobby as it is a necessity, people love a bit of retail therapy. The internet certainly has its uses and supermarkets are almost invaluable but every so often it's just good to "hit the shops!"

And when they are looking for a shopping destination that has just about everything you could need, Solihull is indeed a big hit with many people.

Mell Square, Drury Lane and, of course, the Touchwood centre are a magnet for serious spenders and window shoppers alike. And don't go thinking this is a "woman thing" it seems that men are just as keen to snap up the latest fashion item or indulge in a bit of beauty treatment.

There are also pubs and eateries dotted around the place where you can grab a quick bite or enjoy some first class cuisine in very sophisticated surroundings.

There is a little bit of "friendly rivalry" between Touchwood and Mell Square but, in truth, the town benefits greatly from having them both with the adage "more shops more shoppers" proving to be true.

Over an alfresco espresso at Mell Square's Costa Coffee I did a bit of people watching and, more importantly, carrier bag spotting and it was clear that, just as I had expected, people were obviously using both of the centres.

I was lucky to have two young ladies as my guides for the afternoon and soon found myself being "taken to all the right places" if I wanted to really enjoy an afternoon's shopping.

Mell Square's House of Fraser was one of our first stops. The new season fashions with exclusive brands such as Linea and Episode as well as fashion favourites Jaeger, Paul Costelloe and Fenn Wright Manson makes it a perfect spot for adventurous trend-setters as well as those who opt for a less flamboyant, smart and stylish look.

Another store now with a foot firmly in the fashion market is Bhs with its selection of 1920's Deauville-inspired chic city separates, a modern "Out of Africa" safari collection, incorporating sophisticated mocha tones, prints and ethnic beading. There are also high-glam bags and an extensive selection of shoes and sandals.

If it's shoes you are after for that special occasion then Le Scarpe on Drury Lane is well worth a visit. Owner Jayne Tombs is renowned for keeping her eye out for the latest designs and is keen to maintain exclusivity by only stocking one pair of shoes in each size so you're unlikely to bump into someone wearing the same style as you! Bags and accessories are also given the same exclusive treatment.

Boasting some of the most stunning collections of individual garments is Bridge on Drury Lane. Always in line with the latest fashions and seeking to 'bridge' the gap between designer and high street prices, Bridge provides a great range of clothing, matching trends and seasons.

Moss Bros, Fat Face, Katherine Draisey and Madeleine Ann are other stores offering the best in clothing but Mell Square and Drury Lane aren't just about clothes. Bang and Olufsen offers the finest in home entertainment systems while Indigo Beauty Spa is the perfect place to stop off if you've shopped til you've dropped and fancy a little bit of pampering.

And if you're planning a wedding then Brides of Solihull offers great choices and the top designer dresses for brides, bridesmaids and, of course, proud mums.

But stop right there, this is meant to be a shopping guide and I can't possibly name every shop we call in. My advice is, if you want to find out exactly what Mell Square and its surrounding streets have to offer, go and see for yourselves. For my part, I'm taking a short walk and going to explore Touchwood.

The perfect destination for all your summer essentials, Touchwood has shopping experts in over 80 stores on hand to offer advice on the hottest items and key looks for the season.

The complex recently welcomed Swarovski, Apple, Ghost, Fabulous and Paperchase who join some of the best UK and international brands, designer retailers and independent boutique style stores, along with the only John Lewis department store in the West Midlands.

Famous for their beautiful stones, Swarovski has the world's most exclusive brand of crystal jewellery and figurines and offers shoppers with a new retail experience in fashion, jewellery, gifts, home accessories and 'must have' collectibles.

The UK's eleventh Apple retail store provides visitors with the opportunity to try Apple's entire product line, attend free workshops or visit the Genius Bar for free support.

Ghost's boutique has a luxury, modern and feminine environment that showcases the monthly collections. Ghost offers a stunning collection for women who want versatility and longevity from their wardrobes.

A contemporary jewellery boutique on Poplar Arcade, Fabulous sells carefully chosen jewellery from up and coming designers alongside well-known brands, including John Rocha, Lola Rose, Pandora, Dower & Hall and Marco Bicego. Owner Jo Stroud opened in Touchwood after her Leamington store, in the Royal Priors centre, proved such a great success. She is delighted by the response to the Solihull venture and is happy to see her male customers are on the increase.

"At first you have to wait for the ladies to discover you so they can then pass your name on to their menfolk. Once the men have got the message that we sell the sort of jewellery that their partners love then we become their first stop for present buying," says Jo with a smile.

Paperchase offers guests design led and innovative stationery, with an array of unusual papers and art materials as well as all the more widely available stationery, greeting cards, gifts and gift packaging.

Touchwood also has 20 bars and restaurants, which are open late into the evening and beyond, serving up everything from spaghetti to spritzers, dim sum to daiquiris and burgers to bubbly, while the Cineworld nine screen cinema shows the latest releases.

So, what are you waiting for? If it's shops you want then Solihull is the place for you.

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