As Mum’s 50th birthday began to loom on the horizon I immediately thought a family weekend away for 6 would be a great way to celebrate.
Best known for its historical architecture, quaint charm and being home to a certain University of not-too-shabby education standards, Oxford is one of those iconic UK cities which epitomise English traditions. Riding on the theme of planning the ultimate British weekend, I decided to book the ever-so grand 5* Macdonald Randolph Hotel. Being a dinner deal meant that our stay included two nights accommodation, full English breakfast on both mornings and a three-course dinner on the first night of our stay. Perfect for a weekend away.
Having organised the whole weekend and with surprise presents in tow, I arrived a little flustered hoping that the hotel would live up to my great expectations. Pulling up outside the Randolph we were greeted by a huge billowing Union Jack flag and two very charmingly smart door men (British weekend Exhibit A). We were greeted with a very warm welcome and as I stepped into the reception I was immediately struck by the regal staircase which spiralled 5 floors up through the centre of the hotel. With its elaborate banister and traditional oil paintings on the walls, it reminded me of the moving staircase of Hogwarts!
Before we could blink our suitcases had been whisked off to our rooms by the hotel staff and we were left to check in to our Executive Rooms. Our rooms were amazingly spacious with gorgeous extras such as a sparkling bathroom fully stocked with Molton Brown toiletries, a box of chocolates, a fruit bowl and an all important Nespresso coffee machine. The interior of the rooms were elegant and stylish with plush furnishings and that heavenly fluffy white bedding you only ever find in good hotels.
After freshening up with a rejuvenating power shower, we headed down to the hotel restaurant for our inclusive three course dinner. The restaurant was set in a large traditional banqueting hall with high ceilings and more traditional paintings. Combined with blindingly white tablecloths and sumptuous red chairs, it was an ideal setting to enjoy a grand three course meal.
To start I chose the Wild Cornish Hake fishcake with chive oil, spring onion and tartare sauce. The fishcake was expertly presented and tasted delicious and the homemade tartare sauce complimented the hake perfectly. Sticking to seafood, I went for poached fillet of John Dorey, homemade gnocchi and sauce vierge. The gnocchi was very unusual like nothing I’d ever tried before but all the flavours worked together perfectly. For desert I had to go for the classic apple crumble with ice-cream and custard (British weekend Exhibit B) which was expertly presented and the perfect size for a desert. The dining experience was topped off when the amazingly efficient waiters brought out my Mum’s desert plate with ‘Happy 50th Birthday’ written around the edge of the plate in chocolate (not that she needed reminding!)
After dinner we went for a nightcap in the hotels aptly named ‘Morse Bar’ which has appeared numerous times on, yep you guessed it, Inspector Morse. With its wood panelled walls, roaring log fire and classic armchairs (British weekend Exhibit C) it was the perfect place to ‘retire’ after our delicious three course dinner with a Baileys on the rocks.
The next morning after indulging in a delicious full English breakfast, we were ready for a day of exploring the town of Oxford. The weather was raining and miserable, but we weren’t going to let that dampen our spirits. The night before we all decided we fancied doing a walking tour of the city, so we battled through the cold and went ahead with the tour! There are various different walking tours to choose from which all start outside the tourist information centre on Broad Street. We explored the amazingly historic university colleges and libraries. As we were visiting on a university graduation day, the scattering of students in their traditional gowns and mortar boards further added to the traditional atmosphere. I would definitely recommend the Oxford walking tours as you’re shown secret passages and short cuts that you wouldn’t normally get to see.
The rest of our trip was filled with afternoon tea, a fantastic Lebanese meal, forcing my Mum to do a tequila shot, yet another full English breakfast and a trip to nearby Blenheim Palace. The trip went without a hitch and my whole family had a great time. The staff at The Macdonald Randolph were attentive, professional and couldn’t do enough for us and the dinner deal couldn’t have been better. Along with the beautiful surroundings of the hotel and great company, it turned out to be a jolly good weekend! (British weekend Exhibit D).
Are you thinking of visiting Oxford anytime soon?