The Avenues: One of the places I try my best to avoid at all costs.
However, I needed to drive up to Ardiya to drop by the Nikon Service Centre as my camera has decided to start glitching on me, and I needed to pick up an extra battery anyway.
I was hearing mixed opinions from people about the newly opened Phase 4, from "it's totally amazing, you HAVE to go!" to "It's the biggest waste of a space I have ever seen". Combined with the fact my sister was out for the holiday I thought it might be cool to head up there and get some architectural shots of the mall if anything.
I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the new extension, or the architecture at least. While my sister squealed with excitement and ran off into some new shop I'd never heard of, I took in the design of the place which really does give you the feeling of being stood on an authentic cobbled street. If it wasn't for the overwhelming aroma of perfume often present in Kuwaiti malls (and the roof overhead of course), I could have been standing in a bigger version of the York Shambles.
Obviously there isn't quite the same range of independent retailers though, so that feeling soon disappears and it's back to being stood in the Avenues staring at yet another H&M - which no, I didn't photograph.
If there was one thing I appreciated about Phase 4 it was seeing that Le Labo had finally opened up a store in Kuwait - one of only 35 boutiques in the world. Le Labo is a niche perfume house who hand blend their fragrances at their flagship store in Harrods, London, which are then flown in to Kuwait.
I'd first heard about this luxurious brand through a friend of mine from Hong Kong - Cathay Pacific previously supplied products from the Bergamote 22 line in their First Class amenity kits, and Etihad Airways use the products in their on-board A380 shower suites for those traveling in First Class or The Residence. This is a tasteful high end store for shoppers to choose from with an interesting background.
Markup is high compared to Harrods though, at £50 for a bottle of shower gel versus a more reasonable £25 in London. A 100ml bottle of perfume will run you just over £200. There's no denying that the interior of this shop is absolutely fantastic, and so unique for Kuwait.
To wrap up our little shopping trip we needed to get some food and thought we'd try somewhere new rather than the second PF Changs that had opened in the new phase. We gave the new Pinkberry store a miss too and decided we could always get one from one of the other four (?!?!) branches in the mall as we walked back the roughly 1.4km length of the mall to the car.
A restaurant that caught my eye was this new Mediterranean place called Cleo. The atmosphere looked cool and it was practically empty at this time of day unlike the heaving pizza place across the street (could you call it a street?) Plus, there aren't many open-kitchen restaurants in Kuwait that I'm aware of and there's just something about open kitchens that I absolutely love.
The food was delicious and stayed piping hot which made a nice change, thanks in part to the authentic iron pots it was all served in. The delicious humus and bread combined with attentive service made for a really pleasant meal - it was clear these waiters were trying to impress having only been open a week or two. Cleo have restaurants in NYC, LA and Miami, with this being their first one in the Middle East.
So if you haven't made it up to Phase 4 yet but fancy some Mediterranean food and super expensive shower gel, I'd say it's worth a look on an overcast day - even if it's just to appreciate the architecture.