Hot dogs, meatballs, and flat-pack furniture. It can only mean one thing – IKEA has arrived in Greenwich (Charlton to be precise). No better way to spend a few hours than getting lost, clocking up your daily steps, and arguing with your spouse about whether the chair will look nice in the house.
Date Visited: Saturday, 2nd February 2019 – soft-opening day for IKEA Family Card members with official opening on 7th February 2019.
Location: Millennium Park East, London SE10 0XA
Getting There: Various ways – buses such as 108, 129, 161, 472 and 486 from North Greenwich Underground (Jubilee line) or Charlton rail station. You can also walk (approx. 10 minutes) from Westcombe Park rail station. There is a car park on-site, however the traffic around the location is notoriously bad due to its proximity to the Blackwall Tunnel entrance. Today, traffic was okay however I can only imagine that on opening day it will be very, very busy as it coincides with a football match at Charlton Athletic’s ground. More details about the traffic issues are covered in the local ‘From the murky depths’ blog.
Cost: Free. Only cost is travel to/from IKEA Greenwich, and if you decide to pick up some items or food from the cafe.
Clean and organised. IKEA Greenwich replaced the previously sustainable Sainsbury’s at the same location. Besides having a lot of recycled material in the building, there’s not a whole lot of difference between this and the other IKEAs in Greater London. It is more accessible to those in London zones 1-4. However, I’m not convinced people will carry boxes of flat-pack furniture on the underground. There are delivery options, including a bicycle delivery service and eco-taxi service. Bus stops are directly outside the store, so being a local, it would be nice if cars are the last option to minimise local traffic – however this is very unlikely to happen.
That aside, it’s a great place to take the kids. With a creche service, small play area, and test furniture sections for them to test out, it will keep them busy for a while. Lots of drawers to open, beds and sofas to test, and chairs to spin around in. If they start getting hungry, then there’s the restaurant half-way around to fill up. If you visit on Monday to Fridays, there’s free tea and coffee for IKEA Family members.
Cara had loads of fun in the small play area. It literally has a few objects to climb and the tiniest slide, with a few touchscreens. However, she spent a good 30 minutes playing there. She also enjoyed the children’s furniture area where it has the small beds and pop up toys like tents and tunnels.
Food-wise, there’s options for children and adults. Given its price, it’s decent value and something different to the Nandos or McDonald’s in the area. We shared the meatballs, fish and chips and a couple of desserts. As it was still a soft-opening, the staff were still learning and being trained so service was slightly slower. I’m sure it will improve with time. There’s a few touchscreens with games on them in the seating area, and the self-tidy conveyor belt is a nice addition.
I’m not sure if it was because of pre-opening weekend, but there were lots of kid activities – face painting, make your own bunting, paint and plant your own pot plant. Again, great for the kids and Cara enjoyed it so hopefully they’ll keep that as a feature.
Some downsides will be the potential traffic if customers drive to IKEA Greenwich as opposed to taking public transports. Another might be the amount of furniture that will flood the second-hand market like Gumtree, although that would be more preferable than flytipping it. But overall, it was a nice morning out. I can see us visiting the cafe every now and then, walking around and picking up some knick-knacks.
- Avoid the peak times – I can see this place getting very busy. You just have to look at how busy the IKEAs at Edmonton, Croydon and Lakeside become. Try to visit as soon as the doors open, or an hour or so before they close to minimise the stress. Obviously if you’re taking the kids, then try to visit during a weekday.
- Make a day of it – close to IKEA Greenwich, there is the Pennisula Park shops. This includes Mothercare, Primark, Next, JD Sports etc. Perhaps wait for pay day…
- Great for DIYers and builders – If you’re furnishing a new home on a budget, then you’ll most likely visit IKEA Greenwich more than once. In addition to the store, there’s also other building and renovation stores – Howdens, Wickes, Topp Tiles, Toolstation, and Screwfix. Hire a van and stock up!
More Info: IKEA Greenwich
Burn Time: 5 out of 5 – with a creche, kids play area, and an entire store of testable furniture, including children’s bedding, you can spend many hours at IKEA Greenwich. Throw in a restaurant and roof terrace, and that’s your day gone.
Value: 4 out of 5 – even though it’s free to enter, we ended up walking out with a blue bag full of things we probably didn’t need for the house. More ‘nice to have’ type items.
Overall: 4 out of 5 – if you’ve been to an IKEA before, then IKEA Greenwich is the same. Slightly newer, more ‘sustainable’ and a lovely roof terrace with views of Canary Wharf. If they can sort out the traffic issues around there, then that would be ideal.
Looking forward to IKEA Greenwich opening, or dreading the traffic? Let me know in the comments below.