Christmas Shop, Drop and Dine at Aberdeen Union Square

Wednesday 13 December 2017
Post in collaboration with Union Square

Unwrap Christmas at Aberdeen's Union Square Shopping Centre. Extended late night opening hours, hands-free shopping via the Union Square PLUS app and plenty of restaurants to refuel at whilst shopping, no matter what your dietary requirements. 

I'm all for anything which can help make the chaotic run up to Christmas that little bit easier. Whether that be quaffing mulled wine at any opportunity, bribing my kids to wrap presents, delegating food preparation or a bit of out of hours shopping to beat the crowds. The folks at Aberdeen's Union Square invited me to visit them for a Shop, Drop and Dine evening to celebrate the unwrapping of the centre's late-night shopping hours, experience the convenience of their hands-free shopping service and taste a range of festive and free-from dining options. The plan was that I'd share my visit on Facebook Live however technical gremlins got in the way and my wifi connection wasn't strong enough as I moved around the centre to keep me broadcasting constantly. So where technology failed me here's a virtual walk through of what we encountered on our #USQShopDropDine

Late Night Opening Hours
Forget squeezing your shopping into a busy lunch hour or already manic weekend. Instead head for the shops after work or even later. In the run uo to the big Ho Ho Ho, Union Square's stores (over 50 of them!) are now open until 9pm on weekdays, 9am to 7pm on Saturdays, and 10am to 7pm on Sundays. The centre will also be open from 10am to 5pm on Christmas Eve for any last minute panic buys. (Gents - I'm talking to you here!)

After 6pm parking is just £1 in the College Street car park (accessed via the railway station) or £1.50 in the main car park. We arrived just after 6pm and got a parking space in the multi storey no problem. (I should confess that I made my husband park up for a couple of minutes to make sure it really was after 6pm. No way was I paying £2.50 for 5 minutes of the previous hour. Ever the Aberdonian!) You do need to leave by 4am the next morning or it goes back to normal rate - so no going clubbing!

Hands Free Shopping

Love shopping? Hate carrying the bags? The one thing I miss from when my kids were toddlers was the ability to pile all my shopping underneath the buggy and on the handlebars. It is so much easier to shop when your hands are free. Sometimes I do head back to the car midway through a trip and drop off my haul but that's not always possible or practical. However now I've discovered that I can can leave my shopping bags with the Union Square Customer Service Team for free! To take advantage of this service you need to download the Union Square PLUS app and register your details. Visit the customer service desk with your bags (at the bottom of the escalators between Costa and Patisserie Valerie), scan and redeem the QR code and agree to the T&C's. They'll place your bags in a secure container and you'll be given a receipt. You need to collect your bags 15 minutes before the desk and the shops close. If for some reason you get lured away by eating, drinking or the cinema they'll keep them safe until the next morning.

Click and Collect
Another service that's available that I previously had no idea about is Click and Collect. We all know how frustrating it can be to wait in for (and then miss!) your Internet shopping delivery but if you place an online order with a retailer who offers CollectPlus you can get your parcels delivered direct to Union Square where the Customer Service team will look after them until you are ready to collect. And if it isn't right you can also deliver it back using the same service – meaning no more waiting in for delivery drivers. Likewise for Amazon orders you can pick up your goods at a time that's convenient for you. You'll find the he Amazon Lockers in the East Mall, towards the bus station, just after WH Smith.

Child Safe
Ever so slightly tempted to use this on my husband but resisted. When shopping with young children check in first at the Customer Service Desk and pick up a Child Safe Band. Just write your mobile number on the band, put it around your child's wrist and if they wander off security staff will aim to reunite them with you as quickly as possible.

Union Square Gift Card
If in doubt - Gift Card! What do you buy the person who has everything? The Union Square Gift Card can be used in all the centre's stores and restaurants plus Cineworld and Jurys Inn hotel. Gift Cards are available in denominations from £5 to £500 and are valid for 12 months from date of purchase. Buy them from the Customer Service desk or online at

Don't Shop Hungry
Fuel up for your shop or enjoy a well deserved meal afterwards at one the centres nineteen restaurants. Many are offering special festive discounts and deals ahead of Christmas and you can find those on the Union Square PLUS app. Our mission was to go on a festive and free-from Safari Supper and sample cocktails, starters, mains and desserts in four different locations. Tough job - but someone had to do it!

After the stresses of a failed Facebook Live I was sorely in need of a cocktail and the festive offerings at Giraffe did not disappoint. Three Christmas Cocktails are available - Gingerbread Martini, Panettone Fizz and Smoked Pomegranate Margarita. Thankfully I'd brought along a designated driver so was able to sample them all. If I'd had to order just one it would have been Gingerbread, I'm kind of obsessed with it. It was amazing and armed with the list of ingredients (vanilla vodka, pear brandy, gingerbread syrup, pink grapefruit and lemon juice) I'm going to attempt to try and recreate it at home. The Panettone Fizz contained my favourite Amaretto and also went down a treat, not so much the Margarita - but then again I'm not a whisky or tequila fan. Sláinte Mhaith if you are.

Next stop for our Vegan and Vegetarian starters was Yo Sushi. Not somewhere that I'd ever have considered for those particular dining options. I reluctantly turned my head away from all the seafood goodies making their way round the conveyor belt. First up was Tofu Katsu Curry. Not a great start as tofu is not something I'd ever choose to eat. Avocado Maki, Vegetable Tempura and Yasai Roll were the other 3 of a total of 33 vegetarian dishes on the menu that we tried, of those 19 are vegan. When it came to the taste test we really enjoyed all of the dishes. Even the tofu (which has been Voted 'Best Vegan Curry' by PETA). I may have to rethink my stance. Avocado Maki would be something I'd opt for anyway but my eyes were certainly opened to colourful plates containing more than simply raw fish. 

Vegan, Veggie and Gluten Free in a burger joint? This could be interesting! Byron Burger. Not an obvious choice for free-from dining. We sampled a couple of dishes to suit each dietary requirement. First up gluten free. Classic Cobb Salad and Skinny Bun Free Byron Burger. Vegetarian - Holy Macaroni and Bean Patty. Lastly Vegan - Portobello Mushroom 'burger' and House Salad. As if that wasn't enough we also had sides of Onion Rings and Sweet Potato Fries. Suffice to say we did not manage to even get close to clearing the table. Thank goodness they offer take away boxes. Our server explained that as everything is prepared fresh to order they are happy to mix and match the menu to suit all dietary requirements and have allergen information available should it be required. We were particularly impressed with the Cobb Salad. Not something I would have ever considered ordering but it was a real showstopper (and the leftovers made a fab lunch the following day!) The Holy Macaroni is a Christmas special with a warming glow from roasted green peppers, green chillies. Oh so moreish. I'm a fan of bun free burgers as I'd rather fill up on beef, bacon and cheese rather than bun but it hasn't crossed my mind that this was a GF option. Any of their burgers can be served in this way with a small house salad replacing the bun. Always really useful to know which restaurants are happy to swap around items on a menu whether that be for allergies and intolerances or just picky eaters like my daughter.

It's a good job that there's always room for dessert as otherwise we would have really struggled at Carluccio's, our final stop of the evening. Aperol Spritz for me an a Cappuccino for my designated driver as we drooled over the Menu Festivo. Orders were placed for a Coppa di Limoncello Mascarpone and a Meringa al frutto della passione. Shall I translate? Mascarpone limoncello cream drizzled with limoncello syrup and served with raspberries and crumbled amaretti biscuits. Absolute heaven! Across the table was an equally delicious glass of meringue, passion fruit cream, fresh raspberries and raspberry coulis. Just when we though we could take no more, two Cioccolata Fiorentinas arrived. Thick Florentine drinking chocolate served in an espresso cup - the perfect end to our #USQShopDropDine

Time to head home with full bellies and a few more gifts crossed off Santa's list. And yes we did remember to return and collect our bags from the shop and drop point. Hands free shopping is for life - not just for Christmas!

Disclosure: This is a commissioned post for Union Square. As always, all views expressed are my own.

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  1. What a useful guide for a visit to Union Square! The touches like click and collect and the shopping bag service are so lovely. Sounds like a great range of restaurants - something for everyone!

    1. I'm a regular shopper there anyway but discovered so many services that I didn't know about. Hand free is definately the way to shop!

  2. I've half a mind to take a special trip to the mainland for some Christmas shopping! Loved this post - I spend a lot of time in Aberdeen en route to/from the Shetland Islands, so it's nice to hear more about the food available there. I do love Byron Burger, but had no idea they offered such a fab free from range!

    1. Oh do let me know next time you are making a trip down. Would be fab to catch up for breakfast again at Patisserie Valerie.
      Merry Christmas when it comes!

  3. Love this Claire! A great idea, as we often lug bags back to the car. So this really solves it! Wish you and your family a merry Christmas when it comes xx

    1. Thanks Pamela - same to you and yours, hope Santa is good to you!
      Would also work well if using public transport.

  4. Didn't know about half these services!
    As for tofu, I've never been a fan either but ate lots in Thailand & I think I'm converted!

    1. You and me both! I'm definately going to keep an eye on the App from now on.
      Think it might take a wee bit more until I'm a Tofu convert.


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