If you’re planning a weekend break, Oxford is a must for your list. Steeped in history, oozing academia, and quietly simmering with traditional style, the ‘city of dreaming spires’ has plenty to offer the discerning gent who needs a bit of R&R.
Being home to one of the most prestigious universities in the world, Oxford harmoniously blends England’s rich heritage with the informality of modern culture. Chic shops, hip bars, and relaxed cafés nestle amongst castle ruins, age-old colleges, and strikingly historic architecture.
WHERE TO STAY
Surround yourself in heritage and history at The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels. An Oxford landmark in the heart of the city, the hotel takes inspiration from Oxford University, with nods to college architecture and notable alumni. Located directly across from the Ashmolean Museum where Magdalen meets Beaumont Street, The Randolph Hotel features locally inspired art telling the narratives of Oxford’s past and is a short stroll to local shops and restaurants and within walking distance of the university buildings and colleges and just a stone’s throw away from Balliol, Worcester, and St. John’s College.
Alternatively, for those in the mood for a more historical setting, we’d also recommend The Bear in Woodstock. Once a 13th century coaching inn, this hotel now offers exceptional facilities just a two- minute walk from Blenheim Palace. Or if you love shoes as much as we do, we’d recommend the historical yet stylish, Hawkwell House Hotel with boasts interiors inspired by the classic Oxford brogue and Oxford shirt! As keen Loake fans themselves, keep a lookout for the display stand in the lobby featuring our shoes for guests to view. The best part is that any guest staying at Hawkwell House Hotel is offered 10% off* at our Oxford store, which is located a quick 10-minute drive away.
WHERE TO SHOP
It has to be said, though, a weekend break away isn’t complete without a little shopping. We’d recommend a visit to our Loake Oxford store at an early point in your stay. Weekend breaks often include a significant amount of walking, and there’s nothing like a beautifully crafted pair of handmade shoes to help you on your journey. We’re based in the Westgate centre in the heart of the city, and also stock complementing accessories such as gloves, other fine leather goods, and umbrellas – ideal for any unexpected downpours!
Other shopping highlights for the discerning gentlemen include: the Tag Heuer Boutique, which has a chic collection of watches; Charles Tyrwhitt, where you can grab a stylish shirt for the evening; and the tailors, Nicholas & Harding, who offer a personal made-to-measure service and will ensure that your wardrobe is filled with elegant but contemporary style.
During the day there’s plenty to entertain. For starters, Frilford Heath Golf Club is a superb 54-hole course just 8 miles from the city centre. However, if you’d prefer to be mucking around on the water, a spot of punting is a wonderful way to wile away time, and there are plenty of boat hire services offering both ‘self-drive’ and ‘chauffeured’ trips.
For those who just like to wander surrounded by nature, the Oxford University Parks and Christchurch Meadows are fantastic areas of parkland open to the public all year round, and they’re right in the heart of Oxford too; perfect for a picnic.
Being Oxford, art and culture abound, and the city’s stunning architecture presents snapshots of eras as far back as the late Saxon period. The castle and the prison are definitely worth an explore, as are the 38 individual university colleges. We highly recommend you take in the Bridge of Sighs, the Sheldonian Theatre, the Bodleian Library, St George’s Tower, and the Radcliffe Camera. Booking a tour is easy and a local tour guide will be able to point out things you would never usually notice!
Blenheim Palace is a must for your itinerary too. Just 10 miles in from Oxford City Centre, it offers sightseers the opportunity to wander around extensive gardens as well as explore the palace state rooms, which really are quite spectacular, as you’d imagine.
With so much history, it’s no surprise that Oxford has over ten museums. Loake Oxford is currently affiliated with the world’s oldest university museum, The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology. What began in 1683 as a single room of paintings has grown to an impressive collection of 39 galleries, presenting a wonderful array of exhibitions all year round. If history & culture is your thing, then why not visit the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, the Pitt Rivers Museum, the History of Science Museum, and the Christ Church Picture Gallery?
Oxford also plays host to several art galleries, ten of which are within a mile of the city centre. A wide spectrum of tastes is catered for, ranging from contemporary art to the pre-Raphaelites. We suggest you start at the Castle Fine Art gallery, which is the UK’s leading art retailer, and displays a diverse spectrum of artwork including Ronnie Wood, Marvel, and Bob Dylan. You might then wish to have a mooch around Modern Art Oxford before moving on.
LIVELY NIGHT LIFE
The artistic side of Oxford is excellently represented by the fact that there are ten performing art theatres. The Oxford Playhouse and New Theatre Oxford are just three minutes’ walk apart and handily located in the city centre.
Of course, enjoying a glass of vino or a pint is all part of a relaxing break away, and the city boasts some very chic and welcoming establishments. Beautifully located above the Westgate on a rooftop terrace, The Alchemist bar and restaurant offers a dazzling view of Oxford’s skyline as you sip one of their famously theatrical cocktails. Also in the city centre is Sandy’s Piano and Wine Bar; a unique venue with a fashionable, underground speakeasy feel. Plus, there’s Angels, which is a small, independently run cocktail bar in the trendy area of Jericho with a comfortable atmosphere and an extensive range of tipples.
WHERE TO EAT
Keeping nicely fuelled by day, and then pleasantly sated by night, is also key to a memorable stay away.
Day Time Nibbles
Loake Oxford is surrounded by a wonderful selection of eateries to grab respite for half an hour or so. We highly recommend Ole & Steen for their delicious Cinnamon Social Slice pastries. And if you’re in the mood for a fast but appetising burger, then Tommi’s Burger Joint in the Westgate’s street food area is a must. Plus, all-day restaurant and bar, Victors, offers you an American style menu and cocktails on the rooftop terrace.
Brasseries and Restaurants
The Ivy Brasserie extends an eclectic mix of British and international dishes and is conveniently located on the High Street. Browns occupies a prime spot on Woodstock Road, which is just a short stroll from the heart of the city, and prides itself on first-class service with everything from afternoon tea to a sumptuous à la carte dinner.
If you’re happy to walk a little further for your supper, approximately twenty minutes from the Loake Oxford store, you’ll reach Gee’s Restaurant and Bar, which will accommodate you in a uniquely rustic atmosphere whilst you munch on delicious Mediterranean dishes.
Slightly further out of the city, but most definitely one to put on your list if you can get a table, is Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. A superb, two Michelin starred restaurant, located in the small village of Great Milton, seven miles outside Oxford.
And there you have it, we hope this guide helps you to plan for a trip to this wonderful city. Don’t forget to follow Loake Oxford on Facebook for further updates. If you’re planning to visit, give us a shout and we can update you on any fun events that may be going on at the time!
To find you’re nearest Loake store, see here.
Images kindly provided by the companies named within this guide.
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