Oxford’s Quirky Pubs and Bars

Oxford is known as a city of creativity and that extends to its clubs, pubs and bars. So we explored the streets of Oxford in search of the city’s most unique haunts and drinking holes in search of the best. So join us as we run down some of our favourites!

The Mad Hatter

Tucked on the corner of Iffley Road and Circus Street, this Alice in Wonderland themed speakeasy may be one of the strangest cocktail bars in all of Oxford. The unique experience starts directly on arrival, as the doorman will ask you to answer a riddle before they’ll let you into the weird world of the interior.

Inside you’ll find a monument to English eccentricity. With an oddly decorated bar that features retro-phone based table service, optical illusions and cocktails served in teapots and teacups. The bar also hosts a weekly karaoke night, regular drinks mixing classes and is available for private hire.

If you’re looking for a unique night out, you’ll be hard put to find a stranger place than The Mad Hatter.

Freud Cafe

In the historical Jericho section of Oxford stands St Paul’s Church, a Greek revival church built in 1835 and, for the last 30 years, home of the Freud Cafe. With its pillar-clad exterior, high ceilings and opulent stained glass, drinks at Freud is a unique social experience and a firm favourite of friends, families and students alike thanks to its unique setting.

The Bear Inn

The Bear is Oxford’s oldest pub and has been serving guests since 1242. This small pub seats only two-dozen in its cosy, low ceilinged and wood-panelled interior, but what it lacks in space this traditional inn makes up for in personality and atmosphere. The Bear does also feature a heated garden, meaning that even if you can’t squeeze inside, you can still enjoy the wide range of traditional ales and delicious food available from this traditional British establishment.

Tap Social Movement Taproom

Founded in 2016 by three criminal justice workers, the Tap Social Movement Taproom is more than just a bar. Launched as a craft beer brewery that focused on developing marketable and transferable skills in those struggling to find work for reasons outside of their control, the mission of Tap Social Movement is not only creating and sharing great beer but also helping the local community.

The open taproom and community space plays regular host to live music and, being based out of Oxford’s industrial sector, offers a uniquely industrial decor. If you’re looking for a combination of great live music and locally produced craft beers – which can all be enjoyed while making a positive change in the community – then the Tap Social Movement Taproom is for you.

Oxford is jam-packed full of great pubs and bars and we’ve only talked about four of them! There are plenty more ales to sample, wines to taste and unique venues to experience. Hardwick Parks is located just 12 miles from the centre of Oxford and is the ideal place to relax after a day (or night!) out in Oxford. To learn more about Hardwick Parks and to book for the 2019 season, visit our website.

A day at Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace is an Oxfordshire landmark, the huge country manor and it’s gardens were a controversial royal gift to John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough in the 1700s. After the Duke’s exile, it became the home of his family and is the birthplace and ancestral home of wartime British Prime Minister, and relative of John Churchill, Sir Winston Churchill.

With such an imposing house and grounds, it can be difficult to know where to start when exploring this magnificent example of the short-lived, English Baroque style of architecture. So let us help show you around and prepare you for a day out at Blenheim Palace. The palace itself is a bit of a combination of a building; as a stately home, a national monument and a mausoleum for the Churchill family – all of which are exquisitely designed and constructed.

The best way to experience the luxurious interior of Blenheim Palace is by taking one of the site’s many tours. These tours will give you the full experience of the staterooms; let you learn more about Sir Winston Churchill’s relationship with the palace and much more. You can also learn the secrets of Blenheim Palace by taking the self-guided “Blenheim Palace: The Untold Story” experience.

Before exploring the acres of lush grounds, why not take a moment to stop for a bite to eat. Near the house itself, there is The Orangery Restaurant that serves a full a la carte menu. For something quicker, why not try The Oxfordshire Pantry café in the East Courtyard Visitor Centre. If you’re not hungry now, however, there will be more opportunities for food in the grounds themselves at The Water Terrace Café or The Pleasure Gardens Pizza Café.

The park and grounds of Blenheim Palace can be viewed easily through one of the buggy tours – letting you see all of the sights of the palace grounds in once bite-sized experience. If you’d rather stretch your legs there are a huge number of self-guided tour paths to follow as well as free guided walking tours being run throughout the day.

Be sure to explore both the Formal and Pleasure Gardens of Blenheim Palace for the full garden experience. The Formal Gardens surround the Palace, and they include the majestic Water Terraces, the Duke’s Private Italian Garden, the Secret Garden with all of its hidden treasures, the new Churchill Memorial Garden and the beautifully delicate Rose Garden. The Pleasure Gardens conversely, stretch father afield and contain the palace’s hedge maze, miniature railway, butterfly house and a variety of other activities.

Points of interest within the grounds include The Column of Victory, topped by a statue of the first Duke of Marlborough and the Grand Cascade waterfall that was designed by the famous gardener ‘Capability’ Brown in the 1760s.

Also on site is the Marlborough Maze. This large hedge maze is made of over 3,000 yew trees and is the second largest symbolic maze in the world; being designed to reflect the history of Blenheim Palace itself. In 2016, the Telegraph put the Marlborough Maze at Blenheim Palace in its list of the top 10 most mind-boggling mazes in Britain – so give yourself plenty of time if you’re looking to tackle this one.

Blenheim Palace is one of the most awe-inspiring stately homes in Britain and we hope our little taster has you raring to visit this esteemed attraction yourself!

Just a stones throw away from Blenheim Palace can be found Hardwick Parks – a great place to stay while you explore the house and grounds!