Advantages Great location and Transport Links, Free Parking, Plenty of Shops and Places to Eat
Disadvantages Extremely busy at times
|Is it worth visiting?|
Conveniently located just off Junction 34 on the M1 motorway you can't really miss Meadowhall as you approach it due the large domed glass central roof which is visible from the motorway and as you get closer to the Mall itself and its multiple car parks you really get an good idea as to just how huge it looks from the outside.Boasting over 12,000 free car parking spaces in expansive covered and open air areas which surround the perimeter of the mall and even an over flow carpark for the busier times of the year, over 1.5 million square foot of floor space inside and attracting over 24 million visitors every year Meadowhall is the probably the largest shopping mall in the South Yorkshire area, it has well over 300 stores inside, a cinema complex, a large food hall and even a landing pad for a helicopter if you want to arrive in style.
The "Meadowhall Interchange" transport station takes you right to the door if you travel by train or bus and public transport runs on a regular timetable if you can't or don't want to drive there. I've never taken the bus to Meadowhall before so can't comment on the reliability of the bus service but have used the Interchange train station and found it to be clean, tidy and reliable with trains arriving and leaving on a regular basis. Because I live in a town close to Sheffield I always drive to Meadowhall and parking my car is normally easy enough with plenty of spaces usually available in any of the numerous car parks although because I know the place well I tend to stick to the same car parks which are handily located near to the shops I know I want to visit. There are lots of designated Disabled spaces and convenient drop of and pick up points at the entrances and although Bank Holidays and the run up to Christmas tend to be extremely busy and parking can be a bit of a pain strategic circling of the car parks and a little bit of patience eventually pays off and once parked up you're free to enter the centre from any of the multiple entrances which are easy to locate.
Obviously it's the shops and stores that have drawn you to Meadowhall in the first place, so what does the Mall have to offer? I've already mentioned the 300 plus shops and stores; these range from all you would expect to find on the high street - Boots, WHSmith, Superdrug, Clinton Cards, HMV, various toy shops and Department stores etc to banks and building societies through to upper end jewellers and designer outlet shops. You really can do all of your shopping under the one roof in one visit if you wanted to and if you need a break in-between shopping there is the "Oasis" food hall where you can grab a bite to eat from a number of different fast food place or even sit down and have a 3 course meal in a candle lit restaurant. All budgets and tastes are catered for and there is plenty of choice available, there are literally hundreds of tables and chairs set out in the large atrium style food hall which has a lower and upper level and finding somewhere to sit and eat doesn't usually take much effort although be warned that weekend dinner times do get exceedingly busy and the centre is usually packed to the rafters.If you wanted to make a day of it there is a "Vue" multi-screen cinema showing new release films with comfortable seating and concession stands where you can buy your popcorn and hotdogs from. There is a crèche where you can drop of children if you want to let them play whilst you shop and the centre on the whole does try and cater for your every need.
Even though I've admitted in the past to not being fond of shopping in general I don't mind Meadowhall at all, I like the convenience of all the shops I need being under the one roof, it is always spotlessly clean and it doesn't matter what the weather is like outside as you are dry and warm inside. On a Bank Holiday it can be a bit of a pain to find a parking space and then have a leisurely walk round due to the thousands of people that descend on it but normally during the week it is a pleasant place to visit and I can easily spend a good few hours browsing round the shops and find plenty to spend my money on.Speaking of money, given the amount of choice available you can end up spending a bit more cash than you had planned to, but when you consider you can turn it into a full day out of having a look around, doing some shopping, then grabbing a bite to eat before visiting the cinema to watch a film all without having to go outside it can and often does make for a fabulous and entertaining day out.
Getting around inside is easy enough, there are plenty of stairs, escalators and lifts dotted around and because the Mall is located only on a lower and upper level it never feels overwhelming or daunting when walking around inside. I've never known any of the lifts to have an 'out of order' sticker on them in all the years I've visited Meadowhall and the place always seems to be maintained to a high standard and is always pleasant to walk around.Although jokingly referred to as "Murderhall" or "Meadowhell" by locals when it comes to Bank Holidays and Christmas it still is the best place to visit to do some shopping I find and I have been a regular visitor over the years and even if I just fancy a cup of coffee or a meet up with friends its proximity to where I live means its convenient for me to travel to. Even if I don't have any high street shopping to do the fact that it has a huge Sainsbury's and Marks and Spencer means I can even do my supermarket shop there if I want a change from my local Tesco or Morrisons and as its just a quick run down the motorway for me I its a place I visit on a regular basis.
Smoking is of course illegal now indoors but there are designated and marked smoking areas located outside which attract those of us who do smoke and the ones situated by the Oasis food court now have covers over them which make far them better than they once were when crowds of people used to huddle by the doors during bouts of bad weather. Upstairs the outside smoking areas are generally located away from the shop doors themselves but people do tend to ignore the fact that the ashtrays aren't by the doors and throw their cigarette butts onto the floor which I must admit I think is a bit unfair on others but I smoke where I'm supposed to and believe that others should too.The Christmas season is always a nice time to make a visit to Meadowhall as the interior is always elaborately decorated with animated displays and plenty of impressive looking decorations and festive lights on show. There's usually a 'turning on' event where celebrities come to switch on the lights although be warned that space is limited and in recent years many people have been turned away. Although I personally avoid the place like the plague when it comes to events as the chaos is a little too overwhelming for me from what I saw on the local news it always looks well organised and other people seem to enjoy it even if it would be my idea of hell!. Christmas shopping is orgainised (and often organised) madness the closer it gets to that time of the year and usually the opening hours of the stores are extended to accommodate the needs of shoppers and whilst I tend to do a lot of my Christmas shopping online now I have been known to join the crowds and push my way through the masses to get to a specific shop for something special. Sale time as you can imagine can also be insane at Meadowhall, particularly the ones straight after Christmas and my advice would be to get there early and secure a parking space as it can get incredibly busy at times which in turn makes it not quite as much fun as it should be but there are often some great bargains to be found and had if you're willing to get stuck in.
A highlight and one of my favourite parts of Meadowhall is "The Lanes", a strip of small shops which run adjacent to the Oasis food court who sell arts and craft type wares and the home of what was my favourite shop in the whole of Meadowhall itself, the small 'Last Picture Show', a small store packed with posters and film memorabilia and a great place to pick up some nice bits and bobs which I like and frequently visited until its closure earlier this year. Sadly it's no longer there but wanted to mention it anyway as I loved the place and spent far too much money in the place over the years although there are still many other shops which manage to extract my cash. There's also a traditional pub located in this area too which is handy to call into for something a little stronger than tea or coffee and it also serves pub grub which makes a change from the other burgers and fast food that seem to dominate the rest of the area.
Located just off Jct 34 of the M1 Motorway
Mon - Fri: 10:00 - 21:00 (extended at Christmas)
Saturday: 09:00 - 20:00
Sunday: 11:00 - 17:00
Please note that parts of this review originally appeared on dooyoo under my username, it has been updated and revised for ciao.
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