The verdict: Westfield Stratford City

As Westfield Stratford prepares to celebrate its one year anniversary, I thought I'd share the report I wrote on Westfield when it opened last September KH checks out Europe’s largest shopping centre

Nothing is as thrillingly satisfying or as efficient at relieving stress, as a delicious day mooching around the capital’s shops. Up until now, all the action has centred on the twin colossi of Bond Street and Westfield in Shepherds Bush (which attracted 26m visitors in 2010 alone). But, as of 13 September 2012, those in the know have been wandering to Westfield Stratford City– a shiny, supersized £1.45 billion shopping mall next to the 2012 Olympic Village, that’s packed with shiny new shops for you to blow the budget in (it’s the new season, you deserve it!) Westfield Stratford City is further away from central London than its older sister, but easily accessible being served by both the Central and Jubilee lines.

Shop till you drop for: As you’d expect, there are umpteen options for all budgets and tastes. You can pick up serviceable basics for a snip at Primark, Uniqlo and Next, while Forever 21 is just the ticket for stylish young minxes – offering catwalk style at car boot prices. At the other end of the shopping spectrum is Tommy Hilfiger (we love the navy seersucker shirts and chic college knits), Hollister, Hugo Boss and Brit brand Hobbs who is celebrating its 30th birthday with an anniversary collection: expect original Hobbs designs with a 21st century twist. Perfectly representing the middle ground are big name chains John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Spanish supremo Zara, Cos – head here for quirky, clean basics – and Reiss. The latter is marking its 40th birthday with a new concept store.

Both sexes can get fashionably shod over at Aldo, Office and Kurt Geiger – or for more classic styles head to Clarks, which has launched a line of work shoes courtesy of Mary Portas.

For the sporty, there’s Nike, The North Face and Adidas among others (for Hammer fans, there’s a West Ham United store) and for the arty, Scribbler and Paperchase.

The new mall is also a good place to head if children are in tow as many shops seem to be dedicated entirely to East London’s ankle biters; from the affordable Mothercare (a temple to all things infant related) to the high end; the new Tommy Hilfiger shop features Tommy’s first UK kids range, while Russell & Bromley Kids is also present and correct. There are also some great gimmicks – Build-A-Bear workshops et al – guaranteed to lift little ones’ spirits.

On the beauty front, there’s a big branch of the British high street favourite Boots (whose generous loyalty scheme will keep you coming back for more), L’Occitane, Lush, Neal’s Yard, Kiehl’s and co in addition to more unusual offerings – Arabian Oud anyone?

For everything you need to set up camp in the capital, try Ozdilek and Dwell – both of which are good options for household items, while the White Company (due to open its doors soon)  will be home to some stylish furnishings. You could make a home from this trio of shops and not want for a thing.

If you’re looking for an original present, try Best of the Best – a haven for quirky gifts. A bookworm? Make for Foyles or WH Smith where you’ll find all the bestsellers plus magazines and the cutest of cards at very reasonable prices.

Foodies will love the fabulous food hall at M&S – arguably Stratford’s most stylish food shop and a far more pleasant experience than your average supermarket hell. Also check out Arabella Nuts & Delicacies for some healthy yet tasty treats and the Krispy Kreme outlet, for glazed doughnuts worth dumping the diet for.

Other stores to keep an eye out for include Kooples (expect chic tailoring from the Gallic brand’s first east end branch) and Fashion Rocks. But  be warned: this US based fashion giant stocks labels like D&G, Just Cavalli and McQ by Alexander McQueen and isn’t for shy retiring types, plus prices can be pretty steep.

Don’t leave without stopping off for a little something. For a fast food fix, the food court should sort you out; think burgers, bagels, the fattest of fries, subway sandwiches – in short, all the comfort food you could crave. More discerning diners will appreciate Wahaca (the Mexican market eating experience that has taken London by storm), Jamie’s Italian, Balans and The Real Greek, while there are plenty of trendy, upscale delis and cafes like Caffe Concerto, Zack’s Deli and Giraffe.

In addition to the myriad of shops, Westfield Stratford is a seriously good-looking mall being lighter and brighter than its Shepherd Bush sibling. Parking is also plentiful (there’s 5,000 parking spaces!) and rest assured that at the end of your spree, you’ll easily be able to locate your car thanks to an automated number plate recognition.

It’s a combination of these factors – along with the amazing entertainment options (Westfield Stratford City is home to a 17 screen cinema, All Star bowling alley and as of December, the UK’s largest casino) that help make this new kid on the shopping block, a much more civilised affair.

On the down side, not all the stores are open yet (hurry up H&M, Hawes & Curtis, MAC and Menkind!) but this is a minor quibble and for those with a serious retail addiction or an appetite for entertainment, there’s little not to like (especially when you consider that it has created 18,000 jobs) about the latest addition to Europe’s shopping scene. Just don’t forget to bring a big empty bag; your credit card is as likely to get as much of a work out as you will.

Westfield Stratford City is open 10am-9pm from Monday-Friday, 9am-9pm Saturday, 11am-5pm Sunday. For more on Westfield Stratford City, visit http://uk.westfield.com/stratfordcity.