A Weekend In Oxford
Oxford – known as the ‘City of Spires’, a fact which I find utterly depressing! Imagining ornate protruding roof columns and a petit handful of photographic opportunities, I was mildly excited about our trip away, nurturing thoughts of having more fun in the 5 star hotel we were about to check in to. It turns out I was misled, misinformed, misguided. Don’t get me wrong-the hotel room was a beauty (especially after a complementary upgrade to a suite), but there would be no need to lock ourselves in with gin and chocolates – this town is impressively elegant.
Restaurants and Bars
The history of the place feels a little overwhelming, the world’s future brain-boxes riding around on old bicycles makes you feel inspired, the amount of amazing food on offer makes you feel hungry and the extensive collection of Cocktail Bars makes you feel dizzy! If you find yourself there for the night you should definitely check out The Duke of Cambridge and Raoul’s, two of the best cocktail bars in an area known as Jericho – now a grid of Victorian terraced streets with window boxes and pretty doors, but once the area just outside of the old city wall’s where travellers would rest if they’d arrived after-hours when the gates had closed. I imagine they just strung up their donkey, slipped into Raoul’s and ordered a Cosmopolitan.
For brunch we stopped at Gee’s – Oxford’s iconic Glass House. Somebody got the brief just right here – traditional to the max but on point down to the detail. Food’s great, staff are lovely and the decor transports you to another beautiful era.
Not in the city for long, and trying to not rush our weekend either, we chose to spend a few hours in the Natural History Museum, ogling Dodo’s and Dinosaurs alongside wide-eyed children. The neo-Gothic architecture is pretty impressive too, but then everywhere you stroll in this town the buildings blow you away!
Take It All In
For a better view of it all, the Radcliffe Camera is lodged between Brasenose and All Souls College’s – for a couple of quid you can take in the birds-eye perspective of Buckbeak the Hippogriff and peek into the courtyards and gardens of some of the oldest College’s in the world. The first time I came to Oxford, years ago, I missed out because I thought the grounds of these colleges were out-of-bounds to Joe-public, but actually you can stroll to your heart’s content and imagine what life would have been like if you’d just taken Latin and Lacrosse a little more seriously! And that’s what we did for the remainder of our weekend here in Oxford – with Google maps in hand we snaked through the passageways and cloisters, trying old garden gates which could have been locked or simply just closed to keep the unseen quadrangles a little more secretive. Go on… try those doorways and passages, this town is hiding magical things if you just dare to find them…
City of Magic
Small enough to cross in half an hour but brimming with distractions and an atmosphere which makes you want to linger. The spires ARE beautiful but I think it’s time to re-label Oxford, therefore I am officially renaming it the ‘City of Magic’. It’s not hard to see why Miss J.K. Rowling chose several of the campuses as locations for scenes at her Hogwarts school of Wizardry.
Everyone has their favourite cities, Richard and I can’t get enough of Rome and obviously there’s London as our quick last-minute failsafe, but I think we might have just discovered another little gem just a couple of hours drive away. We’ll definitely be returning soon to soak up more magic.
Have you been? If so, what were your highlights? Do you know of any Oxford gems?
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