Ascot & Sunninghill
PUBLISHED: 12:36 14 August 2008 | UPDATED: 15:21 20 February 2013
One's best known for its racecourse, the other is often twinned with nearby Sunningdale, but these two villages make for a great day's shopping, says local resident Tessa Harris...
Ascot may not be the prettiest village in Berkshire, but it's certainly one of the most vibrant with four cafés, several pubs and restaurants and quite a few small shops. While Sunninghill, a couple of miles away, is much quieter, its high street is lined with interesting independents.
So why are Ascot and Sunninghill worth a visit?
Drop into Starbucks or Fego's in Ascot High Street on a weekday morning and you're likely to find large groups of well-dressed women chatting avidly over their coffees. These are the ladies who latté in this affluent neck of the woods and they will either be mothers with children at nearby independent schools or business women who are networking - or both.
It's not surprising therefore that after their skinny cappuccinos they may wish to pop into one of the nearby shops.
How do we get there?
Ascot is on the mainline rail link between Reading and Waterloo, or come off at junction of the M4 at Bracknell and follow the A 329.
So where do we park?
If you're lucky you'll find a spot in Ascot High Street itself, or in the Hermitage car park, a small parade off the High Street. Otherwise, there's a large free car park at the lower end of the High Street.
In Sunninghill, parking on the High Street is very limited, but there are two free car parks nearby.
If we're looking for fashion...
Fans of the TV series Mary Queen of Shops will know that one of the boutiques to be given the Mary Portas make-over was The Fit in Ascot. It caters for size 14+ women who want to look and feel really good about what they're wearing. The famous 'Tummy Tuck' jeans are on offer, plus some more unusual designers.
Nearby The Field offers fashionable designer brands, mainly to the under 40s market, while over the road is Moore, a super men's shop that stocks Ralph Lauren, Versace, Sand and Loake shoes.
Tom French is the exclusive jewellers in Ascot, in Hermitage Parade, where one-off pieces are regularly commissioned by savvy locals. As well as working with traditional gemss, Tom also crafts more unusual stones such as tourmalines and tanzanite. He's just finished working on earrings that were commissioned to match a necklace for someone who'd had a big winner in a race just up the road! Check out, too, his excellent range of gifts for men who have everything, such as Porsche cufflinks and wine glasses.
In Sunninghill Location, Location stocks ladies' fashions with plenty of 'bling' - lots of sequins, sparkles and embroidery characterise the designer clothes here. There's also a wide choice of eveningwear and accessories.
Ensemble opened last year and stocks a good selection of funky dresses and jeans.
Savvy shoppers will also make a bee-line for the Stock Exchange in Chapman's Yard, where you'll find row upon row of row of nearly-new designer wear.
And for the home?
Earlier this year the former Durning Library was transformed into a stylish furniture emporium. Woodstock of Ascot stocks a wide variety of top-quality furniture, including its hugely popular range of versatile Fatboy bean bags in a range of zesty colours.
They also stock traditional Lloyd Loom furniture, as well as popular ranges of black walnut tables, chairs and bedroom furniture.
In Sunninghill you'll find Dragon Shed, a fabulous shop that's brimming with gorgeous pieces of furniture, gifts, sculptures, mirrors and accessories. Their furniture is principally authentic Chinese. They do one-off pieces such as gilded chairs, or cabinets - a recent item featured original temple doors - and more contemporary pieces like a mirrored cocktail cabinet. We love their newly-arrived Chinese tea chests are painted in bright colours, too.
Sunninghill is also home of the Edwards & Godding's Aga shop. Their cookery demonstrations, held monthly, are always a sell-out.
Just outside the village, at Crossways, off Silwood Road, you'll come across Options Bath and Tile Studio, where you'll find everything you'll need for the bathroom, from design and planning right through to project management. If you're thinking of having a wet room, it's an area they specialise in, while their baths, including fabulous Castello baths, come from top European manufacturers. So, if you're looking for fashionable travertine tiles, then look no further. They also stock top radiator designs from Acova, Aeon and Bisque.
Also worth a mention
New kid on the Sunninghill block is Pink & Brown, a stylish gift boutique with a twist that's becoming a bit of a 'destination' shop. They stock all sorts of gorgeous lines including an exclusive range of handmade Italian luxury leather handbags, together with a selection of pashmina and silk scarves. There's also some fun jewellery in great colour choices, with a quality finish in glass, resin, ceramic beads which compliments their Silver Service jewellery by London-based designer Tilly Sveaas.
Other delights include some funky skirts from a super designer based in Brighton - Get Cutie. They also stock some lovely wedding and baby keepsake boxes.
Artis Studios is a photography studio in Chapman's Yard. They specialise in wedding photography and natural portraiture.
Cliff Roe, in Ascot, is an independent sports shop which offers excellent advice and service and next door is C.E. Lewis, the top quality butcher. The cheeky chaps who work here certainly know their cuts of meat and are real local characters.
Shopped till you've dropped?
The Sun in Sunninghill stocks a wide range of baguettes and pastries with comfy sofas on the mezzanine floor at the back.
Fego's is the place to head for in Ascot for eggs Benedict and great paninis. Starbucks is always popular, as is Ascot's and Mad Hatters, which tends to cater for an evening crowd.