As it was my birthday on Saturday and we’re trying to be good and save money this year, travelling the UK is something that’s on my Spring to-do list, so we decided to head out and explore Oxford for my birthday. Oxford is a beautiful place full of lots of incredible architecture just over an hours drive from our flat, so it seemed like the perfect place to go for a short UK trip away.
We headed there last Friday afternoon and headed back Sunday morning so we were there for just under 48 hours. We would have stayed longer and explored a little more, but I’m a wimp, it was snowy as anything so I was scared I wouldn’t be able to drive back so drove home in the morning. Oh, and I managed to forget to take my non-45mm lens which made taking some shots a little tricky, so this post has a mix from my camera and phone.
We did have an amazing time though, it was beautiful, especially the architecture throughout Oxford. Anyway, today’s post is all about how we spent 48 hours in Oxford, and how you could too.
WHERE TO STAY
We originally planned to stay in an Air B’N’B and reserved a gorgeous 3 bedroom house on the outskirts of Oxford for an incredibly low price, but unfortunately, the owner pulled out last minute, so we had to find somewhere else. We ended up opting for a very cute little B&B about a 30 minute walk away from the centre of Oxford, Browns.
We stayed in a large, comfortable, double bedroom with a shared bathroom, as it was the cheaper option, but you wouldn’t have known any different. As much as I prefer a private bathroom when away this one was always clean and for the two nights we were there it was perfectly fine.
The B&B consists of 11 rooms split over two floors. It is above a bakery cafe area which adds all the homely feels, and is what sold Browns to me in the first place. The bakery cafe is called Silvies and not only had a range of fresh bread and jam to buy, but also a great menu to choose your breakfast from. There’s plenty of space to sit and enjoy with three rooms to pick from, my favourite being the greenhouse section at the back. As we had our breakfast, coffee and tea, it was as if we were in a snow globe as the snow fell down. I can imagine this being just as enjoyable on a more, perhaps, Spring-like day.
WHAT TO DO
There’s plenty to do in Oxford, and thanks to the wonderful Abbey, we had a little bit more of an idea of where to start. After checking in to the B&B the first thing we decided to do was go for a wander into town to start taking in what the city has to offer.
I popped the camera away and we just enjoyed a slow walk in. The walk alone allows you to see the start of the wealth of architecture the city has to offer. It’s truly beautiful.
Once we got a little closer to town we decided to hunt out the shopping centre as I really wanted to check out the Hotel Chocolat cafe. I was super excited and it definitely didn’t disappoint. I had a milky hot chocolate while Luke had a white chocolate latte, both with whipped cream on top. The whipped cream was quite rich and the hot chocolate was just delicious – they definitely need to bring more Hotel Chocolat cafes out around the country.
After enjoying our hot drinks we went for a wander around the rest of the shopping centre, Oxford Westgate. I loved that they had a Jo Malone, Bobbi Brown, Molten Brown and Calvin Klein Underwear shops – I’ll definitely be going back.
Once the evening hit we decided to go for some dinner at Jamie’s Italian, a restaurant we don’t have in Southampton. From the outside Jamie’s Italian looked so tiny, but inside it was huge, with the restaurant leading around the back. We both opted for a starter, with Luke going for the spicy ‘nduja meatballs and the Italian Nachos. Luke described his meatballs as having so much taste to them with an added spice, while my Italian Nachos had the perfect crunch and came with an arrabbiata sauce to dip them into. It’s not a starter I’ve seen elsewhere and on the larger side, but it was utterly delicious.
For our mains, we went for the smaller dish options as we knew we’d be super full from the mains. We both went for the tagliatelle bolognese’s, but I went for the vegetarian option, and I have to say I didn’t even notice that there was no meat in the dish. It was incredibly flavourful with the lentils adding that little bit extra. For £6.80 these dishes are something I really don’t think you can wrong with.
On the second day of our trip, we woke up to snow(!!), something I really didn’t think would happen, even if it was forecast. We headed downstairs in our B&B and went to the Silvies bakery cafe I mentioned earlier. As Luke is crazy and never eats breakfast we got a simple rack of toast, a tea for me and a coffee for Luke.
The rack of toast was freshly made bread so was delicious, and we even had freshly made jam to go with this. This made the perfect start to our day as we watched the snow fall down in the greenhouse section.
After having our breakfast we headed out to explore and find some of the places I had listed on my phone that we needed to see, mainly more beautiful architecture in Oxford. We started with finding the Radcliffe Camera, one of Oxford’s earliest examples of a round library, built in 1737, and probably one of the most notable for its unique design. You can’t actually go in it unless you are a member or a student as it is a working library but it was still incredible to see. I love pretty buildings and pretty views.
Following this, we headed round the back to find the front entrance of the Bodleian Library, one of the main research libraries of the University of Oxford. It is one of the oldest libraries in the world and opened in 1602. You can even take a tour of it, but we decided to just take it in and have a nose in the reception area to try and warm up, but the option is there.
After seeing these two incredible buildings we headed round the corner to find the Bridge of Sighs, probably the architectural sight that I was most excited to see. It is actually called the Hertford Bridge, but is referred to as the Bridge of Sighs as it’s said to resemble the Venice Bridge of Sighs. I’m not sure I agree but it is a pretty bridge nonetheless.
After a little more exploring and wandering around we headed for a coffee in the undercover market, which was really cool. I managed to forget to take a photo in the cold, but it is a permanent market that is undercover and has a range of permanent stalls and stores, including several handmade cake shops. There was even a handmade aromatherapy shop which I was so tempted to make a purchase in.
We stopped by Pieminister pies to get Luke some lunch and me a hot chocolate; a pie restaurant that sells unique pies such as a beef, bean, chilli and cheese one, known as Mexicow. It was cheesier than Luke was expecting but tasted kind of like a chilli in a pie! There were plenty of other options available too.
As it was so cold, we did head back to the B&B for a little bit to warm up, before heading out for my birthday dinner. We booked at a place called Home after seeing the restaurant pub so highly rated on Trip Advisor (#1 of 488 restaurants on Trip Advisor). It’s described as a pub designed to be a home away from home and it really does feel like that.
As you enter, you’re greeted with a well-spaced dining area with blue-y-grey walls that doesn’t remind me of a pub at all, other than the bar on show. Each of the tables has candles and flowers too, which definitely adds to the homely feel.
The menu changes seasonally and is an a la carte menu. I opted for the special that was available that night, which was a lamb dish served with vegetables and potato squares. The lamb had been rolled and had the texture of pulled pork, it was super soft and absolutely delectable. I’m so glad I went for this option, it really made a great birthday meal.
Luke went for the more standard burger and chips, but the waiter told us that the owner took a long time to hand over the recipe as it’s such a unique recipe. Luke described it as tasting succulent and juicy, and really enjoyed it.
Following our main courses, we opted for a dessert too. We went for the pancakes with marshmallow and melted white chocolate. I wasn’t too sure what to expect but oh my, it too was delectable. The pancakes were cooked pefectly and the dessert just melted in your mouth.
I’m so glad we decided to try it, and I love that it’s an independent restaurant too. Home is definitely a place I’d love to go back to, to try another dish.
On the final day, we woke up to a few inches of snow, so as I mentioned at the beginning of this post we actually just headed home. I’ve never driven in the snow so I was a little scared it was going to get worse so as annoying as it was it made sense to do this. That being said, there were a few other places we wanted to see, so I thought I would share the other things we would have done if the weather hadn’t of decided to snow in March.
A visit to the Oxford Botanic garden would have been on the agenda as I love searching for a pretty view and botanic gardens are always super pretty. From the walled gardens to the glass houses there definitely looks like there is plenty to see.
We would have also taken a trip to some of the colleges as they are so different to any other university I’ve seen before, with the beautiful architecture I keep referring to continuing. Merton college was one of the ones we were planning on taking a trip to, one of the oldest colleges with a beautiful garden in the centre.
The other one I would have loved to have seen would be the Christ Church college, a college which looks super large and simply stunning. This is the college where the inspiration for the Hogwarts dining hall in Harry Potter came from, so it would be amazing to go for a tour around the university college and see this in person.
To end the final part of the morning the final thing on our list to visit was the Ashmolean public museum, the worlds first public museum. It may not be the most exciting thing in the world to everyone but as it’s a world first I think it’s a must-see, and the architecture is a little different to everything else in Oxford, so it sounds like it is well worth a look.
I had the most amazing time in Oxford, and it was lovely to see a new place in the UK. I definitely think we’ll be back at some point to do the final few things, and of course, go back to the Hotel Chocolat cafe before an afternoon of shopping.
Have you ever been to Oxford before? Is it somewhere you would like to visit?