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.

TO STAY

The Old Parsonage

This very pretty 17th-century hotel has been ranked the best in Oxford, with lovely rooms, a library and a location allowing for easy wandering into the city.

Rooms from £179

The Head of the River

Each of The Head of the River’s twenty bedrooms are named after notable Oxford-ians, setting the tone for this smart and stylish spot. Retro chrome lights and velveteen chairs offer a modern edge, while exposed red-brick walls and iron-frame beds keep things suitably charming. At its hearth, the kitchen is serves up comforting pub classics like pie and mash, fish and chips and roast chicken, as well as charcuterie boards for sharing. When it’s sunny, take breakfast outside at one of the lilac-painted tables in the boatyard. Watch rowers row and punters punt on the river while you munch on English muffins and eggs.

The Old Parsonage

The Head of the River

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