An Oxfordshire staycation is a staycation of an elevated variety. The winding country roads, the rolling wooded hills, the lush green landscape stretching out in every direction: every inch of dappled shade and waft of woodsmoke combines to create a bucolic charm that you’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere.
Not only is the scenery so breathtakingly beautiful as to dissipate all your urban cares and stresses: there’s a seemingly endless list of Oxfordshire pursuits to suit every possible inclination. The academically or intellectually minded gentleman might be tempted by the spires of Oxford’s hub of learning, while those with a penchant for idyllic rurality may prefer the relative calm and quiet of the Cotswolds. And there’s Bicester Village: in itself not just a hub of elegant style, but which also offers a plethora of food, drink and culture offerings to suit even the most discerning staycationer.
We know, though, that it’s all very well extolling Oxfordshire as staycation royalty. Planning a staycation takes time and thought, no matter where the staycation may be taking place: but that’s where we come in. We’ve put the time and thought in for you, and have created a failsafe guide to the perfect Oxfordshire staycation. All you need to do is start booking.
How to get there: be sure to arrive in style
A bad journey can ruin a staycation before it’s even begun. Picture the scene: it’s late at night, and you’ve been travelling all day. Train after train has been delayed and overcrowded, and you’ve spent hours lugging your suitcase up and down more flights of station stairs than you can possibly compute. Happily, however, no such problem need exist when your staycation destination is Oxfordshire.
Assuming you’re journeying by train, Bicester Village station is 10 minutes from Oxford and less than an hour from London; so you can say goodbye to lengthy, disruptive train journeys and instead expect a calm — and delightfully brief — journey through the pastoral delights of the Oxfordshire countryside. (If you need a book for the journey, we can help you out there…)
If you’re never happier than when behind the wheel, then the drive to your Oxfordshire staycation may well end up being just as good as the staycation itself due to Oxfordshire’s profusion of blissfully scenic driving roads. Whether you opt to journey through the ancient streets of the city, wind along the Arcadian river or take in the sweeping vistas near Woodstock, you’ll find it hard to keep your eyes on the road: and Bicester Village has plenty of car-parking space available once you arrive.
Where to stay: surround yourself in luxurious comfort
It’s safe to say that Oxfordshire is not short on elegant, glamorous hotels. Take Soho Farmhouse, for example. Offering you the chance to stay in the original Cotswold-stone Farm House, a Lakeside Cabin, a Farm Cottage or even a Piglet — those tiny, rural bedrooms that’ll make the stresses of London seem a lot further than an hour’s train ride away — this is a hotel that will imbue your staycation with comfort, style and luxury aplenty. If you’re not already a Soho House member, we’d suggest making friends with one just as soon as you can…
Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons
If no such friend can be sourced, there’s no need to despair; Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons is — as we’re sure you know — a breathtakingly luxurious manor house hotel set up by none other than Raymond Blanc OBE himself, with two Michelin stars to its name and serving as a haven of tranquillity with more than its fair share of period charm. Or, if your tastes are further down the quirky spectrum, Artist Residence Oxfordshire is a charming boutique hotel boasting 16th-century charm, stylish aesthetics and more cosy corners than you’d think one small hotel could hold.
What to eat: load up your plate with Bicester Village’s culinary delights
Oxfordshire is full to bursting with charming pubs, quaint cafés and elegant restaurants; but we wouldn’t advise straying too far from Bicester Village where food and drink are concerned. There’s Café Wolseley, for one thing. This Bicester iteration of the iconic Piccadilly restaurant, of Corbin and King fame, is an all-day café-restaurant with both indoor and outdoor terrace dining, and it’s replete with glamour, elegance and delectable dining from head to culinary toe. There’s a shop, too, in true Bicester fashion — so, essentially, it’s your day out taken care of.
"Glamour, elegance and delectable dining..."
If you’re looking to dash in for a quick coffee, then London Grade Coffee will have your caffeinated needs taken care of. Their organic coffee is imported from a single estate in Tamil Nadu, Southern India before being roasted in London.
And if your stomach is growling after a day of freshening up your summer wardrobe at Belstaff, Ermenegildo Zegna or any of Bicester’s other style hubs: La Tua Pasta has just opened its doors for the very first time. It’s an award-winning artisan Pastificio that deals exclusively in fresh pasta; and if you can resist the likes of Truffle Crocchette or Devonshire Crab & Mascarpone black Tortelloni, you’re a stronger man than most.
The Wild Rabbit
In terms of wider Oxfordshire, there are more choices than you’ll know what to do with (so you may as well visit them all, really…). There’s The Wild Rabbit, for one; part of the Daylesford estate, it’s a charming inn that resides in the heart of the Cotswolds and offers a menu packed with organic ingredients, together with a relaxed atmosphere and elegant interiors. Or you could opt for Miller of Mansfield, or The Greyhound Inn; the list continues, but we imagine you’ve got the idea.
What to do: avail yourself of Oxfordshire’s plentiful activities
Once again, you may find yourself drawn to Bicester Village, as though by magnetic force. Take their Summer Evenings programme, for example; you’ll likely spend each night of your staycation hopping between your hotel and the Village, but that’ll be for good reason. Until 31st August, you can make the most of the Village’s Cinema, Shop and Dine package for a mere £30, which includes reserved parking, a 10% saving on the village price with a VIP pass; a three-course menu at a choice of restaurants, including Café Wolseley; and a night spent watching either Rocketman, Top Gun or Notting Hill.
Car Show at Bicester Heritage
Of course, there are myriad activities to be found in wider Oxfordshire, too. You may want to take in a car show at Bicester Heritage, for instance; or perhaps a world heritage-themed trip to Blenheim Palace would be more up your (cobbled) street. And then, of course, there’s Wilderness: the most luxurious, elegant festival known to (gentle)man.
But if you’re thinking that Bicester Village really does seem to have all your staycation needs taken care of, you wouldn’t be wrong. If you’re musically inclined, the Village will see you spending those long, hazy summer staycation evenings immersing yourself in musical entertainment with the likes of contemporary pop-duo Ward Thomas, the Sunshine Kings or sunny afternoons celebrating all things jazz. And if you’re on a romantic staycation, you may wish to pop into Dunhill or Ray-Ban while she opts for the newly-opened 111SKIN or Isabel Marant. The opportunities are endless; and your staycation guide is complete.
Gentleman’s Journal readers can receive a VIP shopping experience at Bicester Village. This unique offer, valid until Tuesday 31st August, will give you exclusive access to the invite-only VIP space called The Apartment where you can relax and enjoy all day refreshments. You will also be entitled to complimentary services such as:
- Hands free shopping
- Reserved Parking
- A further saving of 10% on the Village price with an eVIP Pass
- Priority entry into select boutiques
To book your Private Client shopping experience, please email PrivateClients@BicesterVillage.com quoting BV2021. Please provide your name, desired date of visit, contact telephone number and your planned arrival time. If you plan to come by car, please also submit your vehicle registration details in order for us to organise your reserved parking.
Planning staycations a little further afield? These are the best seaside hotels in the UK…
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