(Re)Discover St Albans

30th March 2012

One of the country’s most beautiful cities is only a stone’s throw away…

The Cathedral and Abbey Church of Saint Alban dominates the skyline, as it has done for over 900 years. Its imposing façade and dramatic rooflines root the city firmly in the past; this is a place that has heritage running through it like the writing in a stick of rock – but don’t let that fool you into thinking that you’ll find somewhere old-fashioned or out-of-date. Far from it. St Albans is bang-on-the-money for today with great shopping centres and streets housing everything from national chains to quirky independents, plus museums, theatres, bars, cafés and restaurants.

It’s also surprisingly compact – and therefore convenient. It’s possible to eat and drink, shop, sightsee and be entertained all in one day, and still have energy. Locate yourself at the foot of the Clock Tower (the only remaining medieval example in the country) and the signposts in front of you are a fine indication of this: the furthest point, for example is Roman Verulamium, 16 minutes by foot through the park or along pretty Fishpool Street with its elevated pavements and mix of architectural styles. From where you’re standing, amenities and attractions radiate in all directions. The stations are both 12 minutes or less, and the Abbey Station down the hill has a regular and useful service to Watford Junction. The lovely wide open market place and the city centre are three minutes away.

The market, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, is huge (160+ stalls huge), but it’s only the tip of what the city can offer the enthusiastic shopper. In addition to the retail outlets that line St Peter’s Street, as they have done for centuries, there are modern ‘side streets’ reminiscent of the alleys of the past: the meandering route of the Maltings, for example, calls to mind the twists and turns of the architecture of old: half close your eyes and you could be back in a medieval street; open them, and you’re firmly in the modern day with all the advantages that that brings. In 1944, the Greater London Plan observed that ‘the centre is spacious and the shops are good, and the shopping area is capable of further expansion without altering the town’s character’ and it’s clear that good care was taken to heed this advice. There’s plenty of evidence of the city’s varied past (and organised walks such as A Pint, A Prayer & A Primer, An Amble in the Shambles and Aristocrats, Paupers and Philanthropists led by St Albans Tour Guides bring this fascinatingly to life) but a positive outlook that embraces the present and looks to the future ensures a vibrant atmosphere and a rich cultural experience for residents and visitors alike.

St Albans has come a long way since the Benedictine monks laid the first stones of the Abbey. Their ethos dictated that cordial hospitality should be shown to guests at all times. In the 21st century, that tradition of welcome and hospitality is alive and well, not only in the cathedral but throughout the city…


2 Hatfield Road • St Albans • AL1 3RP
01727 730777 • www.darcysrestaurant.co.uk
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Celebrating its tenth year in August, Darcys is an independently owned restaurant in the historic town centre. It’s a suave combination of moody cocktail bar and dining rooms over two floors, with a courtyard for fine weather eating – and a welcoming feel as soon as you walk through the door.

Many customers arrive early to chill out in the lounge bar. The Mojitos here have quite a reputation and the wine list hails from both the old and new world. With glass in hand, you can get your taste buds excited by the possibilities of the eclectic menu. Darcys prides itself on its fresh and innovative food and eclectic menu. Big hits from the Pacific Rim rub shoulders with Euro-accented dishes. The kangaroo dish is a great favourite…

Gallery Rouge

27 Chequer Street • St Albans • AL1 3YJ
01727 860401 • www.galleryrouge.co.uk
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Situated in the heart of the historic town centre, Gallery Rouge is an innovative, exciting art destination, offering a unique product range for the 21st century art lover. Within a relatively short time it has created an enviable reputation as a gallery with a difference. Representing an international collection of artists, it has worked hard to showcase a wide and diverse selection of work, as its last two exhibitions demonstrate: modern master Salvador Dali on the one hand; contemporary photographer Terry O’Neill on the other.

Whether you are a seasoned collector or are buying your first piece of art, enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff look forward to helping you find work that is perfect for your home or office.

The Maltings

01727 844226 • www.maltingsshoppingcentre.co.uk
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In the heart of St Albans, the Maltings Shopping Centre offers a vibrant and cosmopolitan atmosphere, making shopping a pleasure for the whole family. With a fantastic selection of over 57 shops, cafés, restaurants and family-friendly events throughout the year, the Maltings has something to suit all tastes and ages, and best of all, it’s in one place!

The Maltings is proud to house the Maltings Arts Theatre and the St Albans Library. Shoppers can come to the centre and take a relaxing time away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, shop till they drop then revitalise before heading home. Just a stone’s throw from the station and with over 800 car parking spaces, the centre is easily accessible throughout the year, making shopping at the Maltings simply yards better.

Marshalswick Furnishing Co

19 The Quadrant • St Albans • AL4 9RB
01727 852520 • www.marshalswickfc.co.uk
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Marshalswick Furnishing Co have been supplying and installing curtains, blinds and tracks to satisfied customers throughout Hertfordshire for over 30 years. They have a beautiful showroom at The Quadrant, with plenty of free parking, where you can browse at your leisure and select from a wide range of fabrics by Harlequin, Romo, Sanderson and many others. If it is difficult for you to go to the showroom, their home consultant Michelle will be pleased to visit you to help with ideas and advice – free of charge, of course.

Marshalswick also offer one of the widest selections of Flooring: Carpet, Wood, Laminate, Vinyl, Amtico, all at very competitive prices. With free no obligation estimates and expert fitting they really do deliver a complete service. You won’t be disappointed…

Satin Bow

62 Holywell Hill • St Albans • AL1 1BX
01727 845586 • www.satinbow.co.uk
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Satin Bow Bridal offers a fantastic selection of high quality wedding dresses and bridal gowns, with both a made-to-measure service and an off-the-peg range. Alongside their own bespoke range are bridal designers with distinctive signatures. Victoria, Satin Bow’s owner, has over 15 years experience in the fashion industry, and has worked as an in-house designer for some of London's most high-profile couture bridal companies. The Satin Bow collection is made from high quality fabrics that translate into modern, forward-thinking silhouettes: traditional with a contemporary twist, or slimline with lots of glamour.

Satin Bow combine striking designs, beautiful fabrics and a personal service to help the bride find that unique wedding dress, at an affordable price, for their special day.

Simply French

9 Holywell Hill • St Albans • AL1 1EU
01727 811622 • www.simplyfrench.me
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Renowned for its exciting collections at affordable prices, Simply French Fashion Boutique offers a personal, friendly service so that women of all ages can create their own style and enjoy a relaxed shopping experience. Each season they select from leading Parisian prêt-a-porter brands, including Jeff Gallano, Serena Kay, Carat, Rinascimento, Sagaie, Brighton, Jus d' Orange, Sonia K, Leo Guy, Patoushka, Siste’s, Rendezvous, Sam & Lili and Absolu. It is also the exclusive St Albans stockist of French Dressing Jeans, described as the ‘French Secret’ of the best fitting jeans in North America.

Simply French likes to develop a special relationship with its discerning customers, and keep them abreast of the latest trends and exciting brands that arrive regularly from Paris.


21 Holywell Hill • St Albans • AL1 1EZ
01727 851354 • www.shimto.co.uk
Sponsored Content

Shimto is St Albans’ premier dress agency, where discerning clients can buy and sell beautiful designer and top-end high street clothes and accessories. Shimto stocks clothes you no longer need and splits the proceeds with you when they sell.

Owners Pip and Patsy have always loved fashion and realised as students that well-cut clothes made from good fabrics always looked better than their chain-store equivalents. What they needed, they figured, was a dress agency that specialised in quality fashion with some vintage and some quirky, unusual pieces. If it could include fabulous shoes, bags and accessories, so much the better. Shimto has been recycling the fabulous way since 2006 and now they sell online it's even easier to find your treasure in this Aladdin's Cave.

Wharton Goldsmith

1 George Street • St Albans • AL3 4ER
01727 859489 • www.whartongoldsmith.com
Sponsored Content

Every girl dreams of that romantic moment when the man of her life drops to his knee and, presenting a beautiful diamond engagement ring, asks for her hand in marriage.

But will he get it right? Having to choose the metal, shape, design and size is difficult – but here’s the solution. Specially developed to create the perfect start to a long and happy marriage, the Proposal Ring is an iconic Christopher Wharton design in polished sterling silver with a brilliant ‘look alike’ diamond in a size that relates to the budget, and engraved ‘Marry Me’. He proposes; she accepts. Then they choose the perfect ring together! Whartons has a wonderful collection of modern and traditional designs in a wide range of prices starting at just under £1000. The Proposal Ring itself is just £125.


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