Image from http://www.oxford-panoramas.co.uk/
Back on Valentines day we concluded our Perfect Date series of articles with “The Perfect Weekend Away” This week we are taking that a little further and starting a series items on the perfect Towns and Cities to visit for your Romantic Weekend and our first destination is Oxford.
Places to stay:
The Beautiful Old Parsonage Hotel on the Banbury Road is based on an amazing old building with a number of reasonable size modern rooms at the back of the hotel. There is a lovely sunny walled garden at the front of the hotel and a warm bar and restaurant with log fires for winter evenings. Our advice is to specify one of the old rooms at the front of the old house which are wonderful. The hotel is undergoing refurbishment at present so check before you book. http://www.oldparsonage-hotel.co.uk/
The Old Bank Hotel (sister hotel to The Old Parsonage) is Oxford’s chic, modern, boutique hotel, nestled between the beautiful frontages of University College and Oriel College on the High Street, it takes its name from the Victorian bank in which it now resides. It has a very nice restaurant and a great terrace for lunch in the summer months. http://www.oldbank-hotel.co.uk/
The Randolph is Oxford’s most traditional and luxuriously formal hotel, opened in 1864 in a handsome Victorian building, where it remains to this day. The Hotel is the place in Oxford to take a scrumptious traditional afternoon tea, centrally located and appointed beautifully, complete with a five star rating and truly attentive service (of the kind that its very hard to find nowadays) it is the ideal option for a luxurious weekend away in Oxford. http://www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk/our-hotels/macdonald-randolph-hotel/
The Malmaison Oxford, If you are looking for somewhere totally original to stay look at the Oxford Malmaison which is actually the old Oxford jail. Each room is made out of two or three of the original cells. The rooms are modern and well equiped and you will have something to tell your friends about. It’s also the location for the prison scenes from the original Italian Job – with Noel Coward. http://www.malmaison.com/locations/oxford/?gclid=CKb8qf7jkL0CFXMPtAod7VIAZg
Gee’s, is in my view, the most romantic place in Oxford. With a menu to die for, and a team passionate about using only locally sourced, seasonal and top quality ingredients, this is the place to make a splash for a dressy evening out. The restaurant’s cocktail menu is also great should you fancy an aperitif, and furthermore, the decor is fresh and welcoming with an art-deco edge, given that the restaurant is located in an extremely elegant, grade II listed 1930s glass house.
Quod – The place to be in Central Oxford, Quod is Gee’s metropolitan cousin, run by the same passionate team, located beneath the Old Bank hotel but with an entirely different feel and menu. The cocktail bar is impressive, and the restaurant has a real buzz, perfect for the city-slicker in you.http://www.quod.co.uk/
Browns is an Oxford institution, relatively central and with good food at very reasonable prices it is advisable to book ahead http://www.browns-restaurants.co.uk/locations/oxford/
The Turl Street Kitchen – Affectionately known as the ‘TSK’, Modern and clean in style, and extremely popular with the locals – booking ahead is essential. The menu is extremely inventive, and changes daily – the chefs pride themselves on their creativity. Pop in for a very reasonable, yet delicious lunch or dinner, complimented with quick attentive service which again uses seasonal ingredients with the utmost panache. http://www.turlstreetkitchen.co.uk/
‘House’ – My favourite watering hole (only when I’m in cash mind you). A civilised and sophisticated bar, tucked down a side street near Oriel college, its the perfect place to lose yourself in an expansive and totally delicious menu. Given that its civilised, its also ideal for couples looking to spend a romantic hour or two together, sipping their classic martinis, which I’d recommend unreservedly – they are deconstructed and served both beautifully and inventively – well worth a try. http://www.housebar.co.uk/
‘The Duke of Cambridge’ -On Little Claredon Street by the edge of the chic neighbourhood of Jericho, The Duke of Cambridge is Oxford’s other iconic cocktail bar – they do the best Mint Juleps I’ve ever tasted. http://www.dukebar.com/
You really can’t go wrong in Oxford, the city is full of a range of fun, cosy and bustling free-houses, each with their own personality. The King’s Arms or ‘KA’ and the ‘Turf Tavern’ are amongst the most famous.
If you want to see something truly eccentric pop along to the Wonderful Pitt Rivers Museum. This eclectic collection of the most amazing items from all over the world displayed under subject headings from shrunken heads to fire arms via native costumes will keep you amazed for hours.
The Ashmolean A beautiful museum containing a vast array of the most beautiful historical antiquities and artefacts. There are exhibitions on Ancient Egypt, Medieval Europe, Renaissance art works and sculpture and fine oriental chinaware and painting to name but a few. A must for any culture-vultures out there.
The Colleges The university is at the heart of the city, and with over 25 beautiful colleges, the extremely imposing Bodleian library and a wealth of other university buildings, taking a look at some of the most picturesque places in the university is a real treat.
Magdalene, Christchurch and New College are amongst the most impressive, but some of the smaller colleges such as St. Edmund Hall and Corpus Christi have their own unique charm and architecture. The University’s Botanical Garden’s are also lovely to take in on a sunny afternoon. Its also worth considering taking in some student drama during your visit, with over 70 shows a year, the university takes drama very seriously and the standard of drama is very high indeed.
In the summer the botanical gardens, which are near Magdalen bridge, make a beautiful and peaceful hours walk.
Antique and vintage shopping Oxford has a great vintage scene. The centre of the city hosts a number of Vintage shops, including ‘The Ballroom’ by the Magdalen College roundabout (a favourite with the student population) and ‘Unicorn’ on Ship Street – which with rail upon rail (and even pile upon pile) of cheap, yet unusual vintage clothes, sourced solely by the two owners – is an experience to say the least. This is complimented by a number of expansive antique shops on the High Street – I’d recommend ‘Antiques on High’, you can lose yourself in there for a good hour or two.
Explore Oxford’s architecture. Oxford is a truly beautiful city with a richly diverse architecture. Victorian and Edwardian townhouses sit alongside Medieval and Renaissance era colleges and libraries, its a lovely place to look around. North Oxford; Jericho and the Woodstock Road are very pretty and the streets are punctuated by lovely coffee shops and cafes to break up an afternoon’s stroll.
Suggestions from Aleksandar Cvetkovic and Nic Wing