Guest Blog from mytunbridgewells.com

We invited Clare from mytunbridgewells.com to #SeizeTheDay at Royal Victoria Place, here's what she had to say...

"A day with my daughter at Royal Victoria Place

A young girl holding a doll, shge is sitting on a chair in shop and her mother behind the chair.

As we settle back into regular routines after the summer holidays and a rocky 18 months, I appreciate more than ever getting to take my toddler into Tunbridge Wells to enjoy all of the things we missed. I can finally make the most of my mornings with her before she goes off to school and filling our time is easy with so many things to do!

Each week we visit Royal Victoria Place after dropping my sons off to school for a bit of shopping, food and of course the fantastic Gymboree class we both enjoy going to with friends. There are some other activities that we like to do to, which you might not know about, and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you.

It seems like I wasn’t the only one who missed my regular dose of shopping, as in a recent survey by Royal Victoria Place, it was revealed the top three things missed by those in Tunbridge Wells when most non-essential shops and indoor dining were closed was:

  1. Picking up shopping in real life when you needed it rather than waiting for delivery (37 per cent)
  2. Testing make-up, beauty or fragrance products in-store (23 per cent)
  3. Trying on multiple outfits in one day (21 per cent)

It is something that I completely took for granted and I am so glad to be able to have the opportunity to shop in person! Here are some of our top recommendations for things to do to seize the day at Royal Victoria Place:

Some of our favourite stores

A young girl with a toy wheelbarrow walking in a toy shop.

There’s no doubt that retailers across the country were hit hard during the pandemic, sadly resulting in some of them needing to close. However there are also some super shops in the centre that rely on our custom more than ever and I can spend many hours shopping there and because I know exactly which shops there are in the centre. I usually go in with a rough list of what I need and almost always come home with what I was hoping to get.

There are too many shops to mention but the ones I frequent the most are Kids Stuff for getting last minute gifts as well as birthday and Christmas presents for my own children; WHSmith for stationary, books and cards; Oliver Bonas for gorgeous gifts; Lush Cosmetics for ethical beauty products; Boots for cosmetics, kids clothing, baby products, presents, photos and more; M&S for food and clothes for all the family; Renaissance – an independent clothing boutique for a reasonably priced and superb selection of styles. And of course Fenwick which I have written in details about below. The list goes on but I need to stop somewhere!

Gymboree Play & Music

A young girl crawling through play centre equipment,

We have been going along to this lovely class since my daughter was just a few months old and Gymboree Play & Music have just celebrated their first year at Royal Victoria Place. Happy Birthday!!! The location is fantastic for us. We usually park on the 4th floor of the carpark where there are electric doors with direct access to Level 1 very close to where Gymboree takes place. The automatic doors can be really handy especially if you are pushing a buggy and perhaps trying to direct a toddler too!

Lucy and her team are so welcoming and full of energy and as the classes are divided into several different age groups, there is always an age-appropriate session available. They offer a free trial, so if it is something you are thinking of taking your little one along to – you can see for yourself how good it is!

Fantastic Fenwick

Fenwick is just the most gorgeous store and somewhere I could spend a lot of time in! After Gymboree, we sometimes head directly for The Terrace Cafe on the top level for a much needed coffee, occasional brownie (try the cookies and cream one!) and/or brunch! They are very relaxed in there and the kids seem to like the booths as well as the sofa area. They do a great kids menu at The Terrace too and I have taken my older two sons here a couple of times as a treat. I’m told the afternoon tea is delicious too.

The entrance to the Terrace cafe

The top floor of Fenwick (where the cafe is located) has a gorgeous homeware section as well as a jam-packed toy section too. It always feels calm up there and customers are welcome to browse for as long as they like. A recent addition that I hadn’t know about is the Mamas & Papas concession next to the toys. They have several different pushchairs and travel systems which parents can try out and there are clothes, accessories and toys from Mamas & Papas there too. The baby changing facilitates are terrific too and always so clean, and there’s a separate feeding room for mums who need somewhere quiet to feed their little ones.

The cosmetics and beauty department on the ground floor level is a joy to wander around. Some of my favourite brands their include Mac, Jo Malone, Molton Brown, Benefit and Charlotte Tilbury. If you fancy giving your makeup bag an overhaul, you can book into some of the concessions for a consultation and they give great advice!

Reading Book Swap Shop!

A room with books and chairs and illustrations on the wall.

There’s a brand new Little Monsters Reading Book Swop Shop in the Customer Services Unit located on Level 1, next to Gymboree Play & Music. This recent addition is a small library where children can swap books or sit and read with a parent/carer. Children are welcome to take a book home and encouraged to bring a book in to donate from home next time they visit. The swap shop is aimed at 0–5-year-olds but there are books there for older children too.

If you are interested in hiring one of the kiddy cars for free, then I can highly recommend this for keeping a toddler occupied while you try to get some essential shopping done. My daughter is happy enough to wander around the shops with me but my sons needed to be enticed a little more with the promise of going around in the car. You’ll just need to fill in a form and show some ID to do this.

There’s also a comfy seating area within the customer service unit where shoppers are welcome to stop for a break or feed their child in a calm and quiet area.

The Tunbridge Wells Toy Library

children playing in a room with toys.

New to Royal Victoria Place, The Tunbridge Wells Toy Library is a local community initiative, providing all children free access to toys and the world of play.

Located next to the entrance to Central Market on the Lower Mall, the Library is bursting full of toys and games. It doesn’t cost a penny to join – all you need to do is take along your ID and proof of address, fill in the joining form with your info and then let you child choose which toys, games, puzzles or books they would like to borrow for up to one week.

I would love to know more about your favourite places to visit at Royal Victoria Place. Is it stocking up on some delicious food from M&S? Or maybe browsing the book section of WHSmith? Perhaps it is eyeing up the goodies at Hotel Chocolat?"

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