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Oxford Travel Guide

About Oxford

Steeped in academia, literature and culture, Oxford and its “dreaming spires” are impossibly romantic. This is a city where past and present sit happily together.

Comfortably bearing the weight of eight centuries’ worth of academic history, Oxford’s honey-gold university buildings retain the power to overawe. Its roll call of associated characters (ranging from Lewis Carroll and Samuel Johnson to JRR Tolkien and Evelyn Waugh) is as celebrated now as it ever was.

Most visitors come to Oxford for the beautifully preserved college buildings scattered around the city. Thanks to their aesthetic appeal, many have provided inspiration for classic books such as Alice in Wonderland and The Wind in the Willows, while British TV’s love affair with Oxford shows no sign of abating - Downton Abbey is filmed in and around the city.

The vast student population ensures that Oxford maintains an impressive nightlife scene, with excellent live music options and a countless array of traditional English pubs serving award-winning ales throughout the city centre. The student area around Cowley Road is blessed with some superb eating options and a thriving independent shopping scene.

The wonderful Covered Market is the ideal place to stock up on treats before hiring a punt to take you along the city’s multitude of waterways. The Cherwell and Thames both flow through Oxford and each provide access to some of England’s most beautiful countryside.

Cultural highlights are plentiful. The excellent Pitt Rivers Museum is home to some amazing, off–kilter natural history: you can even stroke the taxidermy. The Ashmolean, the world’s first public museum, offers treasures from ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt and much more.

Then there’s the Museum of Oxford, which recalls key events in the city’s history while you can relive the life of a Victorian prisoner or learn more about the legends of King Arthur at Oxford Castle. Today, part of the castle is home to a superb boutique hotel, the Malmaison. Modern Art Oxford has regular exhibitions of cutting edge sculpture and painting, while the Oxford Playhouse attracts the best touring productions.

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Featured Hotels


Oxford Spires Four Pillars Hotel

The Oxford Spires is set in parkland, but still sits less than half a mile from the historic centre. The hotel has 174 well-appointed en suite bedrooms, some of which have four-poster beds. It also has a swimming pool, sauna, spa bath, beauty therapy room and gym as well a stylish restaurant and library bar.

Malmaison Oxford

Probably the most unique accommodation in the city, the Malmaison occupies the converted prison at Oxford Castle. Modern and sharply designed, it offers excellent dining, lively bars, complimentary Wi-Fi, comfortable rooms with power showers, CD and DVD players and high-end toiletries, as well as an exercise room and a small meeting room.

The Old Bank Hotel

A design hotel offering modern, comfortable and stylish accommodation in the centre of Oxford, the Old Bank Hotel has 42 impressively styled rooms, each with internet and great views of the city's skyline. The hotel restaurant, Quod Brasserie, is a popular lunch spot that uses locally sourced ingredients.

The Galaxie

The Galaxie is spread across two Victorian houses on Banbury Road, although don't expect an old-world feel. A fresh, light colour scheme gives the place a decidedly contemporary feel, while the garden is filled with modern sculptures. It's some way north of the city, but there are good restaurants nearby.

Macdonald Randolph Hotel

Located opposite the Ashmolean Museum, the time-honoured Randolph has a similarly prestigious past, having previously welcomed Prime Ministers and Presidents through its doors. It's been open since 1886 and has a good spa and restaurant aside the comfortable guestrooms. The hotel is also the favoured watering hole of TV's Inspectors Morse and Lewis.

Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons

Renowned as one of the country's leading hotels, Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir is notable for far more than just its food. It's set in the village of Great Milton in the Oxfordshire countryside, and with just 32 guestrooms it's somewhere that emphasises attention to detail above mass-market appeal. Definitely one for special occasions.