Oxford is one of the most exciting destinations in England for travelers. There’s a wealth of things to do in this diverse city, from exploring the prestigious university to exploring the Bodleian Library, Ashmolean Museum, and Botanic Gardens. But where to stay in Oxford? Find out in this handy guide.
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Oxford is one of my favorite cities in England, though I have more ties to its historic rival Cambridge, which is equally as impressive. Find out about the best places to stay in Oxford from the hippest areas to the most romantic, and the best places for families and first-time visitors.
Whether you’re looking for budget accommodation, somewhere with parking, or the best place to stay in Oxford for nightlife, you’ll find a wide selection of hotels, guest houses, and apartments across the city within this post. You’ll also learn about the best areas to stay in Oxford overall depending on your requirements.
Best Places to Stay in Oxford, UK
Quick Look: Best Areas to Stay in Oxford
- First-Time Visitor: City Center
- With Family: Summertown
- On a Budget: Headington
- For Nightlife: Jericho
- For Couples: Iffley
- For Shopping: City Center
- For Foodies: Jericho
- For History: City Center
City Center: Best Place to Stay in Oxford for Your First Time
The city center is the best area to stay in Oxford for first-time visitors as it has it all. From major tourist attractions like the colleges of the university and the Ashmolean Museum to bars, restaurants, and shopping opportunities, you’ll be right in the heart of the action.
Best Places to Stay in the City Center
If you’re looking for where to stay in Oxford city center then check out these top picks:
1. The George Street Hotel: This five-star accommodation in the heart of the city center is just a one-minute walk from Oxford New Theatre, and all the shops, restaurants, and amenities are conveniently on its doorstep. Rooms come with underfloor heating, an en-suite bathroom, and city views. Click here for details.
2. Golden Cross Guest House: This four-star guest house is a stone’s throw from Oxford Castle and Prison, the Covered Market, and a huge range of shops, pubs, and restaurants. Choose from a studio or apartment that sleeps up to three people with a private bathroom, flatscreen TV, and WiFi. Click here for details.
3. Courtyard by Marriot: This is one of the best places to stay in Oxford’s center with four-star accommodation that offers air-conditioned rooms, free bicycles, a terrace, and WiFi throughout. All rooms come with an en-suite bathroom, and a buffet, continental, or full English breakfast is provided. Click here for details.
Top Things To Do in the City Center
Below, you’ll find some of the top Oxford attractions in the city center:
1. Oxford University and City Walking Tour: This two-hour walking tour with an Oxford alumni will give you a unique insight into this prestigious university that’s seen the likes of Sir Walter Raleigh and Stephen Hawking pass through its hallowed halls. You’ll also get to explore the colleges, Bodleian Library, and Church of St Mary. Click here to learn more and book.
2. Visit Oxford Castle and Prison: Explore Oxford’s historic castle and former prison on this 60-minute tour. You’ll get to climb St George’s Tower for panoramic views of the city as well as descend into a 900-year-old crypt that houses the remains of St George’s Chapel. Click here to learn more and book.
3. Shop, Eat and Drink at the Covered Market: Oxford’s colossal covered market is one of my favorite places to visit and is home to over 50 different independent shops, cafes, and restaurants selling everything from local produce and handicrafts to chocolate, ice cream, gin and much more.
Where to Eat and Drink in the City Center
Below, are three of the best eateries in Oxford city center:
1. No 1 Ship Street: This modern British brasserie is the place to go in Oxford city center for fine dining and some of the best cocktails in the city. The restaurant specializes in grilled meats, fish, and seafood, and there are also vegetarian options available. The two-course set lunch menu is just £15, or £19.50 for three courses. Click here for directions.
2. The Folly: If you’re looking for a sumptuous meal overlooking the river, then look no further than the Folly which features its own floating terrace perfect for summer dining (you can also hire boats here after you’ve eaten). Pop in for a relaxing lunch, or an elegant evening meal, or take the “cruise and dine” option. Click here for directions.
3. The Turf Tavern: This traditional British pub is located in a Grade II listed building in the heart of Oxford a stone’s throw from famous landmarks such as the Bodleian Library and university colleges. The menu specializes in filling pub grub from burgers to fish and chips and grills. Click here for directions.
Jericho: Best Area in Oxford for Nightlife
The ultra-hip suburb of Jericho to the north of Oxford city center is the best place to stay in Oxford for nightlife. This bohemian part of the city is packed with interesting restaurants, bars, and pubs and is a must-visit for foodies. Jericho is sandwiched between the city center and beautiful Port Meadow so there’s plenty to do around here day or night.
The suburb takes its name from the fact that it’s outside the city walls, and in medieval times visitors to the city arriving after dark could stay here before making their way into Oxford the following day (so it’s always been associated with overnight activities). This is somewhere I always visit when in Oxford thanks to the cool vibe and plethora of excellent bars.
Best Places to Stay in Jericho
Here, you’ll find a top selection of places to stay in Jericho and some of the best Oxford hotels close to nightlife:
1. The Old Parsonage Hotel: This gorgeous boutique hotel dates back to 1660 and offers five-star accommodation in the heart of the city within shouting distance of Jericho. This is the best place to stay in Oxford if you’re looking for a little luxury and each room is individually designed and features marble bathrooms with a walk-in shower. Click here for details.
2. Jericho House: This stylish four-bedroom house in the heart of Jericho sleeps up to eight people so is the perfect place to stay in Oxford for groups or larger families. There’s a living room, fully equipped kitchen, and bathroom with shower. Click here for details.
3. City Center Apartment (Jericho): If you’re looking for where to stay in Oxford with parking, this three-bedroom apartment that sleeps six is the perfect option. The property benefits from a balcony with gorgeous river and city views and is a wonderful place to sit and eat outside (the accommodation also features a fully-fitted kitchen for self-catering). Click here for details.
Top Things To Do in Jericho
Jericho’s location means it’s still an easy walk into the city center, but there’s plenty to do without going far:
1. Take a Stroll on Port Meadow: Port Meadow contains 137 hectares of parkland that runs along the River Thames and is the perfect place for a stroll, a picnic or barbeque, or to take a frisbee/football and a few drinks to watch the sunset. It’s also possible to take a wild swim in the waterways but do so at your own risk (and never alone).
2. See a Show at the Phoenix Picturehouse: This arthouse cinema plays an eclectic mix of indie, foreign, and the occasional blockbuster, and is one of the oldest cinemas in the country. The Phoenix definitely suits its surroundings and is one of the coolest cinemas I’ve been to. There’s also a quirky bar upstairs. Click here to see what’s on.
3. Check out the Oxford Ceramics Gallery: Fans of Contemporary art should definitely check out this sleek gallery showcasing a huge selection of ceramic pieces from different artists and sculptors. There are frequent guest exhibitions and art fairs, so be sure to check the website to see what’s happening during your visit.
Where to Eat and Drink in Jericho
Jericho is one of the best areas of the city for food and drink thanks to its array of excellent bars and restaurants. Below are three of the best:
1. The Old Bookbinders Ale House: This rustic 19th Century pub is one of my favorite places for a drink and a bite to eat in Oxford. With a well-stocked bar hosting local and imported craft beers and an excellent menu of Frenh-inspired classics like my favorite coq au vin, this is the place to come for a lively evening in Jericho. Click here for directions.
2. The Oxford Wine Cafe: This cozy wine bar and cafe specializes in wines from small, boutique producers worldwide. They offer a reasonably priced food menu with tapas, pizza, and sharing platters perfect for lining your stomach before sampling some of the excellent wines on offer. Click here for directions.
3. Brasserie Blanc: If, like me, you love French cooking, then you can’t miss this top Jeicho restaurant run by French celebrity chef Raymond Blanc. The boeuf Bourguignon and Provencal lamb are to die for and the prices are very reasonable with mains available for under £20. Click here for directions.
Iffley: Best for Couples
Iffley is a gorgeous leafy suburb to the south of Oxford with a village feel thanks to its beautiful stone cottages and Victorian terraces that line the River Thames. You’ll find traditional pubs, open pastures, and parkland perfect for walking and cycling, making this a wonderful place to stay for couples.
There’s plenty to do in the area from watching the annual Oxford Regatta, which takes place on the Thames, to exploring the 12th Century St Mary’s church and taking in the quiet village-like scenes. It’s just two miles (3.2 km) to central Oxford and there are plenty of buses (Sevice 3 and 3A), with journey times of just 11 minutes, that run from 7:30 am until just before midnight.
Best Places to Stay in Iffley
Below, you’ll find three excellent places to stay in Iffley that offer all the conveniences of the city alongside a countryside feel.
1. Iffley Town House: This accommodation comes with free private parking, a garden for guests to enjoy, a shared kitchen, and a terrace. All guest rooms come with a private en-suite bathroom, free WiFi, and tea and coffee-making facilities. This hotel is also great value for money with rooms available for under £100 per night. Click here for details.
2. Mercure Oxford Hawkwell House Hotel: This beautiful hotel is located within a 19th Century manor house in the heart of Iffley. Rooms come with an en-suite bathroom with a rain shower or bath, a flat-screen TV with Freeview, free WiFi, a mini fridge, and tea and coffee-making facilities. A continental or cooked breakfast is also included. Click here for details.
3. Pass the Keys 3 Bed Garden Home: This modern three-bedroom home in Iffley sleeps up to five people and comes with everything you need for a comfortable stay in Oxford. The property has free on-site parking, a garden, and free WiFi. There’s also a fully-fitted kitchen with a dishwasher, oven, and washing machine. Click here for details.
Top Things To Do in Iffley
Although Iffley is just a ten-minute bus ride from the center of Oxford there’s plenty to do around the area itself.
1. The Kidneys Nature Reserve: The Kidneys is a 3.4-hectare nature reserve along the River Thames where the water meets with the River Cherwell. This pleasant area of grassland is perfect for strolling along the river, cycling, or packing a picnic for a relaxing lunch in gorgeous surroundings away from the hubbub of the city.
2. Oxford Botanic Garden: Wander around the oldest Botanic garden in England and discover over 5,000 different varieties of plants from around the world. This oasis of calm is the perfect place to relax and learn about the different flora from landscapes as diverse as deserts, rainforests, and more.
3. See a show at the O2 Academy: If you’re looking for something to do in Iffley in the evening then head along to the O2 Acadamy; one of the best live venues in the city hosting names from Ellie Goulding to tribute acts, comedy shows, and more. Check the website to see what’s going on during your stay.
Where to Eat and Drink in Iffley
Here are three excellent pubs and restaurants in Iffley, serving everything from traditional pub grub to Polish specialties.
1. Isis River Farmhouse: This upmarket pub and restaurant is on the banks of the Thames (also known as the Isis, thus the name) and is only accessible by foot or bike. As well as an excellent menu of pub classics, the venue holds regular music nights with everything from jazz to blues and rock. Click here for directions.
2. The Jolly Postboys: This traditional pub boasts an excellent selection of real ales, craft beers, local ciders, and more. The menu includes traditional pub grub from burgers to fish and chips, and pizza. Click here for directions.
3. Polish Kitchen: If you’re looking for a fix of pierogi (Polish dumplings) or hearty, home-cooked food from Poland, then be sure to book a spot at this cozy cafe and restaurant serving up the best dishes this side of Poznan. This place is one of my favorite little haunts and is reasonably priced with mains from £12.99. Click here for directions.
Summertown: Best for Families
Summertown is a pleasant suburb to the north of Jericho that’s home to an excellent selection of shops, cafes, and restaurants. It’s a safe neighborhood in Oxford, and with lots to see and do from a leisure center and tennis courts to nearby Port Meadow, it’s an ideal place for families.
It’s considered one of the posher areas of Oxford and is sandwiched between the River Thames to the west and Oxford Canal to the east. There’s plenty of open countryside perfect for walking, and the city center is only 3 miles away with frequent buses convenient (bus service No 2).
Best Places to Stay in Summertown
Here are three of the top picks for places to stay in Summertown; one of the best neighborhoods in Oxford for families.
1. Marlborough House: This charming guest house comes with free onsite parking and rooms have a small kitchenette with a fridge and microwave for self-catering. A continental breakfast can also be delivered to your room upon request. The property has family rooms with an en-suite bathroom, free WiFi and tea and coffee-making facilities. Click here for details.
2. Lina Guest House: This pleasant guest house has recently been refurbished with bright and airy rooms that come with a flat-screen TV, CD, and DVD player, tea and coffee-making facilities, and an en-suite bathroom. Free onsite parking and WiFi is also included. Click here for details.
3. Tranquil Hideaway: This cozy one-bedroom apartment sleeps up to four people so is the perfect place for small families. There’s a fully-fitted kitchen with an oven, microwave, and washing machine, a private garden, and free WiFi throughout. Towels and linen are also provided for guests. Click here for details.
Top Things To Do in Summertown
Summerstown is just a short walk from Port Meadow and the hip suburb of Jericho, but there’s also plenty to do here from outdoor activities to enjoying the many fine pubs and restaurants within the neighborhood.
1. North Wall Arts Centre: If you’re looking for fun for the whole family then head along to the North Wall Arts Centre. Catch a show, watch a comedy, or take part in one of the many child-friendly workshops that the center puts on. Check the website to see what’s happening during your stay. Click here for directions.
2. Oxford Beach Volleyball Courts: Visit the only volleyball court with real sand in Oxfordshire for all the fun of the beach, while remaining close to all the amenities of the city. Non-members can book the courts for £16 per hour. The courts are located in Cutteslowe and Sunnymead Park which is also a pleasant place to stroll or play a variety of other sports. Click here for directions.
3. Alexandra Park Tennis Courts: Located just by the North Wall Arts Centre are the Alexandra Park tennis courts. I love a good game of tennis and this is a fantastic place to play with rental costing just £7 per court per hour, (though you’ll need to bring your own rackets). Click here for directions.
Where to Eat and Drink in Summertown
Summertown benefits from lots of wonderful cafes, pubs, and restaurants that are all within a short walk of each other. Here are three of my top picks:
1. New Dancing Dragon Bar and Restaurant: Having lived in Asia for over six years, I’m a huge fan of the different cuisines in the region and Dancing Dragon has a menu specializing in Chinese (Cantonese and Sichuan), Malaysian, Singaporean, and Thai. If you visit during Chinese New Year (Jan/Feb) you’ll also be treated to the New Year Lion Dance. Click here for directions.
2. The Dewdrop: This family-friendly pub in the heart of Summertown has an outside terrace and garden for dining al-fresco. With pub classics, healthy options, and light bites this is an excellent place for lunch or dinner. The beer-battered fish and chips is a must-try. Click here for directions.
3. Cherwell Boathouse: The Cherwell Boathouse is a fantastic restaurant situated on the banks of the River Cherwell with a range of dining options. Choose from the upmarket restaurant with riverside seating to the gazebo, or Cherwell Tea House for snacks and ice cream. Click here for directions.
Headington: Best Place in Oxford on a Budget
If you’re looking for cheap places to stay in Oxford then look no further than the eastern suburb of Headington. This is where you’ll find Oxford Brookes University and Ruskin College so there are plenty of places for cheap eats and a good night out too (after all, students do love a bargain!).
It’s just a 10-minute journey into central Oxford via the City8, 8, or N8 buses which run from 7:45 am until 11:45 pm.
Best Places to Stay in Headington
Below, are some great budget-friendly accommodation options to consider in Headington:
1. The Dial House: This beautiful guest house in an old Tudor building offers economy rooms with a flat-screen TV, free WiFi, and free onsite parking. Most rooms have a garden view and a cooked breakfast is available for an additional £8 per person. Click here for details.
2. Mount Pleasant Hotel: This budget hotel offers complimentary onsite parking and rooms with soundproofing, an en-suite bathroom, a flat-screen TV, and free WiFi. Rooms are clean and comfortable, and there’s an onsite restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Click here for details.
3. Oxford Guest House: This cozy guest house is just a short walk from the bus stop into central Oxford and is close to all of Headington’s amenities, shops, and restaurants. All rooms come with a private bathroom, flatscreen TV, and fast WiFi. There’s also a pleasant garden and patio area for guests to enjoy. Click here for details.
Top Things To Do in Headington
There’s plenty to do in and around Headington from parks and picnic areas to shopping, eating, and drinking.
1. See the Headington Shark: One of the most (in)famous attractions in the neighborhood is the Headington Shark. Here, you’ll find a 25-foot-long fiberglass shark sticking out of the roof of one of the terraced houses on a suburban, residential street. The shark has been a fixture here since 9th August 1986, and this really is a must-see. Click here for directions.
2. Shotover Country Park: This beautiful hilltop park offers stunning views out across the south Oxfordshire countryside. The park covers 117 hectares and includes a varied landscape of hidden valleys, rolling fields, and woodland. It’s open year-round and is free to enter; making it a great place to bring the family. Click here for directions.
3. The Kilns (CS Lewis House): One of Headington’s most famous sons was Clive Staples (CS) Lewis; author of my childhood favorite books the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and the Chronicles of Narnia. You can book a tour of the house for £15 for adults and £11 for children. Click here for directions.
Where to Eat and Drink in Headington
Here are a few of the best eateries in Headington:
1. The Royal Standard: This traditional British pub is the perfect place for a pint and a cheap bite to eat. With filling pub classics like steak and ale pie and scampi and chips for under a tenner (£10) this is an excellent option for lunch or dinner. Click here for directions.
2. Bhoomi Kitchen: I love a good curry and the Bhoomi Kitchen serves up some of the best in the country. The restaurant specializes in cuisine from the southwestern state of Kerala, India, and includes mouthwatering dishes like Masala Dosa, one-pot curries, and Keralan barbeque. Click here for directions.
3. The Black Boy: This bright and airy modern-day inn offers an extensive menu of upmarket pub classics and flavors from around the world. Choose from traditional fish and chips to smoked haddock, salmon, and applewood fishcakes or seafood linguine plus other tasty treats from the á la carte menu. Click here for directions.
Where to Stay in Oxford: FAQs
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about where to stay in Oxford, England:
The best neighborhood in Oxford for tourists is the city center as this is where all the major sights from the university to the castle are located. Jericho is another popular area thanks to its many excellent bars and restaurants.
Although Oxford is a beautiful and historic city there are some areas that tourists will want to avoid. These include Barton, Rose Hill, Woodfarm, and the Leys.
Summertown is one of the safest places in Oxford and is a pleasant suburb just to the north of the city center. Iffley is another safe and quiet neighborhood and is a great place to stay for easy access to the center.
The city center is the best place to stay in Oxford for shopping. Here, you’ll find lots of independent and boutique shops as well as popular high-street brands. Jericho and Summertown are also good for shopping.
As long as you avoid the estates and suburbs on the outskirts of the city, it doesn’t matter where you stay in Oxford. All the neighborhoods mentioned within this post are either walkable or are no more than ten minutes by bus from the center of the city.
Iffley is one of the most beautiful suburbs of Oxford as it retains a somewhat village feeling to it and offers lots of pleasant outdoor spaces along the River Thames.
Jericho is Oxford’s trendiest area and is the best place for nightlife with lots of excellent bars, pubs, and restaurants. This is also a great place for exploring independent and boutique shops for quirky gift ideas or souvenirs.
Turl Street was voted the most picturesque street in Oxford and is one of the most famous. You’ll find some of the city’s top attractions around Turl Street such as the History of Science Museum and Covered Market.
Now you know about the best Oxford neighborhoods and where to stay in the city to get the most out of your visit. From the vibrant city center to hip Jericho, calm and peaceful Iffley, and Summertown, there are lots of wonderful places to stay in Oxford in and around the city center.
Wherever you choose to stay, a trip to Oxford is a must when visiting England thanks to its historic university, picturesque rooftops and walkways, and lots of green spaces in and around the city. So what are you waiting for? Book your trip to beautiful Oxford today.