It was a flying visit to Oxford last week – with a traffic diversion for the Halfords Tour Series bike race that made it even briefer than it might have been if I hadn’t got lost. May I first suggest that if you’ve only been driving for six months (and around the bucolic countryside at that), you travel to the city by train, bus or indeed bike!
I’d had quite a bit of trouble finding somewhere to stay that was to my taste and budget. Oxford is a pricey city and of course is continually inundated with visitors and tourists, so deals are hard to find. Whilst doing my Google searches on this one, I found myself longing for the backpacking days of last year in which I could simply rock up in a new place and wander down the road to find a nice place to stay. Ah, the simple life indeed.
Still, back to Oxford, and quite frankly nothing was ever going to live up to my ecstasy of staying at the Church Street Town House, so I tried to accept that from the start and got cracking. I ended up booking to stay at The Head of the River – a somewhat left-field choice, as it’s actually a Fuller’s Inn. What can I say? The images of the riverside location won me over.
I parked in their little car park after the manager on duty had moved his Beetle to allow mine in (another reason not to drive). Checking in was kind of weird. I felt I was about to be offered a pint to go with the room key, and in fact a bottle of London Pride awaited me upstairs. Still, it was a warm welcome made even warmer by the fact that a couple of radiators in the corridors were still on full blast on such a hot, sunny day.
I had booked a Superior Room and was shown to Room 3, which had a nice little J.R.R Tolkien theme going on (Christopher Wren was next door). All of the room characters have a connection with Oxford, and the framed portraits and explanation on the wall told me that the great writer was a professor here, at Pembroke College. The room was on the small side but perfectly formed and the en-suite bathroom was just as big, if not bigger!
Things I loved:
- the ‘bookshelf’ wallpaper on a feature wall behind the bed (gave everything a suitably scholarly feel)
- the two views out over the water and bridge (gorgeous on a summer’s day when I was there)
- the four poster bed (only a double, but high and rather regal)
- the full English breakfast in the morning (great choice, good food and lovely atmosphere by the patio doors)
- the building itself (a beautiful old grey stone place; very Oxford)
- the location on the river but just five minutes from the centre of town (the perfect site, I reckon)
I would have liked some tea and coffee making facilities, although to be fair I didn’t spend all that much time in my room at all before I dashed out for a late night at the theatre watching my friend Hannah perform the lead role in Thoroughly Modern Millie (which was incidentally, bloody brilliant).
I really enjoyed my stay and would definitely book again next time I visit Oxford.