One footstep inside Oxford and suddenly you are transported in to a world of magic and wonder (not least because the city was used a lot for the Harry Potter films) but everywhere you look, it has that charming, oldy-worldy backdrop that just takes you away to another dimension. The drive in, we missed our turn off to the Mercure Oxford Eastgate hotel just off the High Street because we were too busy looking up at the buildings in wonderment. A 15 minute detour, that quite frankly, we didn’t actually mind. Warning, this post is photo heavy because I don’t think I’ve ever been to such a gorgeous city (in my life!) With January blue’s setting in, it was the perfect getaway to rid myself of them. With plenty of deals available with Mercure, I know I’ll be doing it much more in the future.
On a grey, early, January morning, Mr C & I headed on the road from our beloved Yorkshire down to Oxford on a three and a half hour journey. Making a short pit stop for coffee (because hell, early mornings are not the one.) we arrived just shy of 12pm and headed straight to the hotel to see if there was the possibility we could drop off our bags and get exploring right away. Luckily, the two very helpful receptionists were happy to check us in and explained our room would be ready in around 20 minutes. We took a seat in the lobby, politely declined a hot drink and instead planned a little route on the map we were given (oh and copious amounts of insta-storying, twitters and instagramming, obvs.)
As I got to have a little explore around the hotel lobby, I uncovered the Harry Potter themed key box and a shelf filled with C.S. Lewis & J.R.R Tolkien books. Three very prominent things that relate to Oxford and it’s history and culture. The attention to detail was second to none (and let’s face it, it had me hook, line & sinker with the Hazza P references as you probably saw from my Instagram!)
As we headed up the lift to our room, the walls were aligned with artwork. (FYI Human bodies with animal heads, riding bikes?!) Not something you see everyday. But once again, it all became clear because Oxford is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the UK, second to Cambridge, so the theme started to make sense.
We left our bags and headed out straight away as part of the #MercureCitySwappers we were to partake in something that another local blogger, Melissa, would suggest doing and of course at the top of that list was to see the Harry Potter filming spots. And like any Hazza P geek would do, it was the top of my agenda. But not before we climbed Carfax Tower which gave us the most stunning views over Oxford and world below.
With stunning views across the city of Oxford and also the nearby countryside, despite me weasing the whole way up, it was so worth the 90 odd steps to the top. Whilst I caught my breath we took in each corner of Oxford. The Tower is considered the centre of the city, with four main streets leading off to various sights around the centre. It made me fall in love with Oxford just that little bit more.
After spending about 15 minutes taking everything in it was time to head to Christ Church and navigate the small huddle of crowds. For such a beautiful, tourist hot spot it was so nice to not feel like we were being trampled on, hurried along or getting stuck behind day walkers to each attraction. It made for exploring a lot easier.
Christ Church is a short 5 minute walk away and is one of the colleges of Oxford University. Sitting in the heart of the city, right next to the Thames, it has wonderful buildings that date back from 1546. The sheer scale of the beautiful building makes it no surprise that this was home to the filming of many Harry Potter Films. From the Great Hall that they took inspiration from and also features, along with the ornate staircase and corridors that Harry, Ron & Hermione frequent in the movie franchise. I was in my element.
Not least home to the stunning Cathedral making this City what it is. Looking up at all the lead windows was just awe-inspring!
Can you spot some of the filming spots from Harry Potter & can you guess which film they were in?
We had a little wander down the main high street & I bobbed my head in to Topshop, but I was so full of joy from exploring the city, shopping was not high on my agenda and we swiftly made an exit and headed back to the hotel via the covered market, we ate steak & ale pies at PieMinster, complete with mash, mushy peas and gravy (nom nom) and finished it off with a MooMoo’s Nutella & peanut butter shake which FYI is pretty incred. Thanks for the recommendation Laura! We headed to the Scence History Museum, which is a free attraction (but you can leave a donation like we did) and we got to see Eintein’s Blackboard which is pretty awesome!
After indulging in all things that go over my head (maths / science) we headed through the winding streets whilst passing the oldest pub in Oxford, we made our way back to the hotel for a 5pm nap. (Not before a beer in the room though!)
After our nice beer & nap, we started to get ready to go down to dinner at the Marco Pierre White restaurant which was part of the hotel. We got showers (and oh my god, the waterfall showers are incred!) and put on our finest to head down to enjoy some of the American/Italian fused dishes on offer. We didn’t want to go too crazy (although, I was hankering for the £26.95 fillet steak) so we shared the Fisherman’s sharing platter, with crisp calamari, king prawns and crab fishcake which were all very tasty, especially with the spicy mayo that accompanied it.
James went for the Seabream fillet, whilst I went all Miss Piggy and got the BBQ ribs with fries and ‘slaw. James said his was delicious, mine was too except it was a humongous portion and my appetite wasn’t up to much with this terrible cold/cough I’ve got. The one thing I really loved about my ribs, were that there was plenty on meat on them which can sometimes, otherwise lack in other restaurants (so much so you have to suck the bones to get any sort of meat off) so top marks for that.
As I was feeling delicate, I had one glass of prosecco and Mr C had a Moretti Beer (seemingly this is his first choice for beer at the moment) neither of us were really feeling the alcohol to be fair but I think that may have just been because we weren’t feeling 100%. We ended the meal with a mango sorbet (for me) and an Americano for Mr C (it came in the coolest coffee cup, but my battery died so couldn’t get a photo. Boo.) Which ended the meal on a nice high.
We were going to head out to find a nice cocktail bar but we decided to sink back in to our bed and watch some TV instead. SNUGGLE TIME. However, this sited me fine as I wanted to get up and explore a little bit more of this gorgeous city before we made tracks back home to Yorkshire.
Have you ever been to Oxford or stayed with Mercure Hotels? What did you experience?
*Our stay with Mercure Hotels was complimentary but all opinions of this gorgeous hotel are my own.
I'm Bee. 27 year old who is finally starting to understand herself. A Scorpio that's too nice to use that sting in her tail, regularly found searching for holidays or online shopping. Happiest when being fed, travelling & spending time with Mr C.