Oxford, located in the southeast of England, is known lovingly as ‘the city of dreaming spires’ after the beautiful architecture of the university buildings. Oxford is the seventh most visited city in the United Kingdom and receives around seven million visitors annually, generating around £600 million through tourism. The city is beloved for its iconic landmarks, such as the Bridge of Sighs, the Radcliffe Camera and the Bodleian Library.
Oxford is a brilliant place to go for a peaceful retreat. Not only is the city stunning, but the surrounding countryside is also truly breathtaking. So whether you’re looking for an urban escape or a country retreat, the Oxford area is perfect. In this guide, we will help you find the perfect retreat location in and around beautiful Oxford.
Retreat Options in Oxford
Planning a retreat is exciting, especially if you’re taking others with you. For example, you may be booking a retreat for yourself and your coworkers. But before you book anywhere, you need to think about what you want from your retreat. Do you want to be located in the city centre, or out in the countryside? What kind of amenities do you need? Do you want access to a big garden? Does the retreat location need an on-site restaurant?
First, you need to think about whether you would like to take a retreat to a new city or the countryside. A city retreat is great if you want to go sightseeing, visit popular attractions and have plenty of dinner and drinks options. On the other hand, a countryside retreat allows you and the rest of your entourage to relax in nature and take some time to unwind away from the hustle and bustle of the busy city.
Next, you need to find somewhere that is accessible to everyone. Thankfully, most retreat locations should have disability-friendly features such as disabled parking spaces, lifts, stairlifts, external ramps for areas with steps and more.
You need to choose a retreat location that others can easily access. Ideally, it would be within easy reach of a bus stop or a train station. However, if you decide to book a countryside retreat, you may need to organise a minibus to take everyone to the retreat location without having to contend with seemingly endless trains, buses and taxis. The cost of a minibus will vary depending on how far the vehicle needs to travel, but it’s worth it to ensure everyone reaches the retreat location.
Next, you need to think about the amenities your ideal retreat location should have. For example, if you’re searching for a rural retreat, you may want access to a pool, a large garden, a spa or an on-site restaurant.
During your retreat, you are probably going to want to find exciting things to do in the area. As a result, you need to find somewhere with access to attractions and things to do. For example, if you’re searching for a countryside retreat, is there a town or a village nearby where you and the rest of your guests can go to have dinner or perhaps do some shopping?
Pros and Cons of Retreat Locations in Oxford
There are plenty of excellent attractions in Oxfordshire, so you won’t get bored on the retreat. Popular attractions include the magnificent Blenheim Palace, Bodleian Library, the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens, Broughton Castle and Greys Court.
- Green spaces
If you’re hoping to spend more time in nature on your retreat, Oxfordshire is the perfect place. There are dozens of beautiful green spaces to choose from, including but not limited to Christ Church Meadow, the Botanical Gardens, the University Parks, Port Meadow, Oxford Canal, Cutteslowe and Sunnymead Park, Florence Park and many more.
Retreat locations in Oxford are likely to be expensive to hire. However, you can keep costs down by finding a venue further away from the city centre. Additionally, you can hire smaller retreat locations to reduce the cost.
Unfortunately, the English weather is not very reliable. So if you’re looking to hire a retreat location with plenty of outdoor amenities such as beautiful gardens or even a pool, remember that there is a chance that the weather won’t be very nice.
Famous Locations in Oxford
- Bicester Village
Situated just 20 minutes from Oxford by car is Bicester Village. The luxury shopping outlet is home to over 160 boutiques, including but not limited to Acne Studios, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Dior, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Lacoste, Michael Kors, Pandora, Reiss and many more. After a busy day of exploring all the boutiques, why not visit one of Bicester Village's many eateries? Grab some sweet macarons at Laduree, a steaming cup of coffee at London Grade Coffee, or perhaps some delicious dishes from the Far East at itsu. So if you’re looking to splash out and buy some new pieces for your wardrobe, a visit to Bicester Village should be on the cards!
- Magdalen College
Magdalen College has something that other colleges don’t have: a spectacular deer park within its grounds! The college is one of the richest in the university and is stunningly beautiful. It holds a few traditions that may seem a little strange to most people. For example, on May Day, Magdalen students will stay up all night and then gather on Magdalen Bridge to sing and dance whilst a choir sings from Magdalen Tower. Sometimes, students will even jump into the water from the bridge to celebrate May’s arrival! There is plenty to explore inside Magdalen College, including the Hall, Chapel and the Old Kitchen Bar. Admission costs £8 for adults and £7 for children, adults over 65 and students. During the summer season, there is the opportunity to take a guided tour, where you will learn more about Magdalen’s fascinating history. Plus, you’ll gain access to some areas that are not open to other visitors, including the Longwall Library Quad.