City Guide: Oxford, England

When people say "Oxford", a picture of leather-bound books, green lawns and yes, the odd dreaming spire come to mind.

A land of punting, libraries, rowing, long dining tables, fabulous balls and students clad in robes, of Brideshead Revisited and Inspector Morse. (Strawberries and champagne, or murder - what choices!) A land of buildings that turn up in the Harry Potter films, of corners haunted by tales of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Lewis Carroll. The skyline is famed, the name itself established as a global brand and a byword for intellectual excellence. It's an institution that continues to fuel itself on this cluster of stories, traditions and images.

hotel

Old Parsonage

Filling a 17th-century building, the Old Parsonage is an intimate hotel that welcomes guests through stone gates and an impressive wooden door. Historic on the outside and contemporary within, seductive tones of rich plum and deep red are brought to life by a lively art collection and excellent restaurant. Explore Oxford on the hotel’s complimentary (and very good) walking tour, or borrow one of their bicycles to get lost in the city of dreaming spires on your own.

Address

1-3 Banbury Road Oxford OX2 6NN

hotel

Artist Residence, Oxford

This 16th-century inn has five luxurious bedrooms nestled under its homely thatch. Choose from the “Rabbit Hole” or the spacious “Barn Suite” with all rooms finished with a trademark mix of antiquary and bohemian styling. Downstairs, Mr Hanbury’s Mason Arms, designed in collaboration with artists The Connor Brothers, is a welcoming country pub. While we can’t imagine ever wanting to leave this place, Artist Residence is conveniently located near Blenheim Palace, Bicester Village and Daylesford cookery school, should the notion take you.

Address

Station Road South Leigh Witney OX29 6XN

hotel

The Porterhouse

With a prime location in the heart of Oxford, this grown-up hotel is a strong option for city breakers. Rooms are painted in lacquers of charcoal paint and outfitted in Scandi-style furniture – there are only seven so make sure to book well in advance – while the moody charcoal-powered steakhouse on the ground floor is a local hero. Vegans will cringe and steak lovers will drool.

Address

68-69 Mill Street Oxford OX2 0AL