Cool Places - The best places to stay in the UK

The Best Places to Stay in the UK

Oxford

Oxford is a town of two halves: a venerable university city, steeped in history and dominated by the honey-coloured buildings of its ancient colleges; and a regional industrial centre, home to one of the UK’s largest car plants, in Cowley. It’s an uneasy mix at times, and it would be true to say that the university has fared rather better in recent years than the car plant. But it’s this blend of ancient and modern that really defines Oxford, and lends it a down-to-earth edge that its great rival, Cambridge, sometimes lacks. 

There are stacks of things to see and do in the city, great pubs and places to eat, and it’s also the gateway to the Cotswolds, the Thames Path and some of Britain’s most enticing countryside – not to mention the close-by attraction of Blenheim Palace, one of the country’s most magnificent stately homes.

History

The defining point in Oxford’s history might well be the establishment of university college in 1249, but even then there had been a settlement here for 300 years. Nonetheless, the city became so defined by its student population that 1355 saw 93 die in the St Scholastica Day riot between ‘town and gown’. Often seen as an alternative to London, the court of Charles I was housed here during the English Civil War, and it’s thought that its magnificent architecture survived the air raids of the Second World War due to Hitler’s plans to make it the capital of Nazi England. 

William Morris changed the face of Oxford in 1920 when he established his Morris Motor Company in Cowley, which by the early 1970s was employing over 20,000 people, and it’s this industrial side to the city, together with the large student population, that has made Oxford into one of the most ethnically diverse small cities in Britain, with 27% of residents from an ethnic minority group. 

The city holds a place in sporting history, too: Roger Bannister ran the first authenticated four-minute mile here in 1954.

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Oxford

It's a city of two halves, a perfect blend of ancient and modern, with stacks to do and see.
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