With many of us still opting to enjoy a day further afield without venturing to the other side of the country, Oxfordshire is somewhat of a gem for those looking for a bit of a magic closer to home. Within easy reach by train or car from London, Oxford is perfectly suited for either a day trip or a staycation over a few days and offers everything from pretty walks, historic attractions and a vibrant arts and culture scene making it the ideal spot for couples, friends and families alike.
Already a destination with a host of names from the likes of Soho Farmhouse, Raymond Blanc and Daylesford, Oxford is fast becoming a popular retreat for avid foodies and those looking to enjoy fine fare in a rural countryside setting. More recently, the noteworthy Diddly Squat farm founded by Jeremy Clarkson has once again put this county and city on the map.
For those seeking a more idyllic pursuit, the Oxford Botanic Garden is a must. A green-filled sanctuary in the heart of Oxford, one can be whisked away in this enchanted oasis which stands proudly as Britain’s oldest scientific garden having been founded back in 1621. Today, visitors can enjoy a display of more than 5,000 different plant species across the lush-filled grounds and glasshouses.
Follow a stroll around the gardens with lunch at the Ashmolean Roof Top Restaurant which is situated above the iconic Ashmolean Museum. Bookings for lunch and afternoon tea in this stylish jaunt also include general entry to the museum but only after your meal so do take this into consideration when planning your day. A stylish jaunt with an outdoor terrace for al fresco dining and nice views overlooking Oxford, the café and courtyard at the Ashmolean serve a delicious menu of seasonally changing dishes ranging from salads, fish and meat alongside an extensive offering of wines, beers and cocktails, some of which are inspired by the ongoing exhibitions at the museum.
Designer aficionados will no doubt enjoy a pit-stop to Bicester Village as part of a trip to Oxfordshire, with more than 160 luxury boutiques in its charming open-air space and up to 60% off recommended retail prices all year round. Home to an array of superbrands and high-end fashion, Bicester’s offering also spans top beauty brands and lifestyle stores. Recent additions to the village include 111SKIN, Isabel Marant and Off-White to name a few as well as its current pop-up, Designer Exchange with a covetable selection of pre-loved fashion and accessories.
Bicester Village has also become somewhat of a destination for fine dining in the country, and its expansive selection of eateries include Café Wolseley, Farmshop by Soho House and the newly opened La Tua Pasta. One of the particular highlights is Shan Shui, a modern restaurant inspired by 1920’s Shanghai serving a menu of Chinese and Southeast Asian dishes in a contemporary setting.
Marking its partnership with Experience Oxfordshire to celebrate the local area and its endless gems, Bicester Village has also commissioned Olympia Olympitus to create a map showing everything from local hotels to restaurants and must-visit attractions in the area which can be downloaded here.