Students Day Out at intu Potteries AD*

For as long as I can remember, intu Potteries has always been my go-to shopping centre. It’s the largest in the area, home to over 80 shops, and I’ve been shopping there ever since I was a little girl.

More recently, intu Potteries has become much more than just a shopping mall. There is more to do than just spending all my wages in Primark and Topshop (and the Krispy Kreme stall). Since opening The Hive at the end of 2015, the centre have been home to six restaurants and a nine screen Cineworld. Having this kind of space where everything you need is in one area makes it an easy, stress-free day out.

Being a student, I like to have somewhere like this to chill between my lectures. Particularly in my first year when I had a busy timetable, I would have huge gaps between classes, and as intu Potteries is quite literally just up the road from Staffordshire University, it’s the perfect pitstop.

As I am graduating this year, my uni friends Melissa, Jade and I headed to the shopping centre before the Easter break. It will be so sad to not see them every single week, so we are making the most of these last few months of living nearby (and our soon-to-expire student discount!)

In The Hive, which you can access from both inside and outside of the centre, there is a whole new buzz to the place – pardon the pun. It’s hidden away from the busy main roads and has a little sunny outside area which is great for all the hot weather we’ve been having. There are so many options to choose from, from Chiquito and Coast to Coast, to Bon Pan Asian and Nando’s. We decided to head to PizzaExpress because they offer a whopping 30% off for students from Sunday to Thursday.

After ordering some drinks, a sloe gin for me, a cider for Mel and cocktail for Jade, we trawled through the food menu. We ordered starters to come out with our mains, getting the new Crab Arancini, PizzaExpress dough balls and garlic bread with mozzarella. For mains, I ordered a Margarita, after being seriously tempted by the other Italian dishes like the lasagne and bolognaise. Mel and Jade both ordered the Pollo ad Astra, since they’re both far more adventurous foodies than me.

The service was super quick, which is great for students as we’re constantly clock watching trying to figure out what time we need to be back in class. The staff were also really friendly; I think at least three members of staff checked on us throughout our meals! The food was made in a true authentic Italian style and was absolutely delicious. The bill came to under £20 a person, which is a bargain considering we had both starters and alcohol. If you really wanted to save, you could opt for a larger pizza for around £2 extra and share, instead of having individual pizzas.

Fuelled on carbs, we headed out of PizzaExpress and right towards Cineworld. I was desperate to watch the new Dumbo remake, directed by Tim Burton! At Cineworld, you can book your tickets on the little machines and select your seats before heading on in to the film. Student tickets are £6.20, saving 50p on a standard ticket, which means you can definitely upgrade your Tango IceBlast to the larger size or get the extra popcorn, right?

The film is everything I wanted from the Disney remake – and the best thing about going to the cinema in the week, in the day, is that it’s usually pretty quiet too! I don’t want to give any movie spoilers away, but Tim Burton has done a wonderful job, as per usual, and there are lots of ‘awww’ moments. Dumbo’s animation is the sweetest little creation and he is the most loveable character. There may even be a tear or two if you’re a sucker for animated animals!

After the movie, we headed back into the shopping centre and I pottered about the shops, passing time before I went to see Fame at The Regent Theatre. I picked up this suit from Miss Selfridge and had a nosey at the new skincare and homewear in Primark.

By the time I left intu Potteries, I had spent almost seven hours there, and it certainly felt like less. Time can pass you buy so quickly as there is so much to do! After our wonderful experience at PizzaExpress and the cinema, I’ll definitely be spending more time in The Hive, checking out the other restaurants during the day!

I was gifted spending money for this experience, but all opinions and views are my own.

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Where I am

Staffordshire, UK