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Shopping in Oxford

Oxford might be drenched in history, but opportunities for modern retail therapy are everywhere. As well as the identikit high street brands found across the UK, there are some quirky independent stores and strong markets. A fair amount of tourist tat, too.

Key areas

Cornmarket and Queen Street along with the High and Magdalen Street are the main shopping streets in Oxford, with most high-street shops and brand names represented. These shops and brands can also be found in the Westgate and Clarendon Centre indoor malls.

Oxford is great for book lovers, offering some of the best book browsing opportunities in the land, whether in second-hand and antiquarian bookshops or in the modern bookstores. The main Blackwells bookstore at 53 Broad Street includes the Norrington Room, which houses the largest display of books for sale in one room anywhere in the world.

Little Clarendon Street, Turl Street, Golden Cross and Gloucester Green are smaller streets with many charming gift shops, boutiques, silver specialists, jewellers or other independent shops of character.


The Covered Market on High Street is full of small shops selling everything from hand-made hats and gifts to Oxford sausages and antiquarian books. Cafés, sandwich stalls, butchers, bakers, delicatessens, green grocers and florists are also available.

Gloucester Green has an open air market on Wednesday and an antiques and bric-a-brac market on Thursdays, plus a farmers' market on the first Thursday of each month.

Shopping centres

The most prominent mall is the Westgate Centre at the end of Queen Street. The usual clothing and electrical stores mean there’s not much to mark it out as different to any other British shopping centre, but if you know what you’re looking for, it’s handily located. It has later shopping hours (until 2000) on Thursdays. The smaller Clarendon Centre, focused primarily on fashion, is located almost opposite the Westgate Centre.

Opening hours

Most shops open between from between 0830 and 0930 until between 1730 and 1900 in the evening.


University branded memorabilia, from clothes to stationery, is popular. As it anything to do with the Mini car, which is now manufactured in a plant in the city. There are also plenty of book shops.

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Featured Hotels


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.

YHA Oxford

A 4-star hostel within a minute's walk of the train station, YHA Oxford has 203 beds and, in keeping with the organisation's revamped image, a modern, welcoming feel. There are various en suite rooms, many of them geared specifically at families. Other features include a bar, a games room and cycle storage.