To escape the rat race of Londontown we recently jumped on a train to Oxford for a long weekend. Most famously known for its world-class university, Oxford has a lot more to see than ancient buildings and spires – although those are beautiful and well worth a visit too!
Start at the top – where to stay? We chose a boutique hotel with a difference – The Malmaison, Oxford. Are you a high-life hoodlum? Are you guilty of favouring small pieces of luxury in your life? If so, this is the only place for you to stay. The Oxford Mal, as it is affectionately known, is a converted prison building. However if sleeping in an old prison cell, however luxurious, isn’t for you then fear not – not all of the rooms are part of the old building. You can also choose to stay in one of the rooms which are part of the new extension.
Maybe it was the fresh air, the excitement of being in a new place – or maybe the London pace of life was still with us as we checked in and decided to head straight back out again. With only two days we packed a lot in and here are the highlights of a wonderful weekend in Oxford:
Oxford’s Covered Market
The market was officially opened in November 1774 and today still plays a big part in the hustle and bustle of the town. Set in the heart of Oxford, the Covered Market is full to the doors with florist stands, bakeries, juice bars, delis, sandwich shops and stalls selling leather goods and jewellery.
Most excitingly there was a Pieminister!! Yum, needless to say I was then on the hunt for a Moo-Pie. Well, it’s hungry work browsing leather satchels, second-hand books and silk scarves!
Am I the only one that didn’t realise how many colleges there were at Oxford University? On a sunny day there is nothing nicer than wandering through the different college grounds – just think of all the famous faces who attended the university, everyone from WH Auden and Lewis Carroll to Imran Khan and even Benazir Bhutto. Other things you might not have known about Oxford University Colleges:
- It wasn’t until 1878 that women were admitted to Oxford University and they weren’t awarded degrees until 1920. Worse still, it was 1974 before the last of the all-male colleges opened its doors to female students!
- Hitler had intended to use Oxford as his capital when he conquered England which is one of the main reasons it wasn’t bombed.
The Botanic Gardens
Oxford’s Botanic Gardens are the oldest botanic gardens in Britain and even if you have no interest in plants these gardens are the perfect location for an afternoon stroll. The garden is split into three sections, The Glasshouse, The Walled Garden and Outside the Walled Garden – each of which is home to different kinds of plants but more interestingly each area within the gardens attracts different visitors. The Glasshouse provides inspiration to gardeners whilst families set up picnics outside The Walled Garden. All in all, the perfect setting to do some writing, sketching or reading!
So there you go, those are my top tips for a weekend in Oxford. Happy travels!