Travel Loafers had an opportunity to try something a little different: to spend the night at a bed and breakfast operated by St-Hugh’College in the University of Oxford, UK. Reading up on the history of St-Hugh’s, this was an interesting proposition.
St-Hugh’s College was founded in 1886 by Elizabeth Wordsworth, great niece to the famous poet. A large part of her legacy was to enable poorer women to receive an Oxford education. St-Hugh’s was eventually incorporated as a college in 1910 and officially became part of Oxford University in 1920. Various buildings were added over the years and the college we see today is a mix of Victorian and modern architecture, with a beautiful green space and gardens as its jewel, linking the buildings together. In centenary year, St-Hugh’s opened its doors to male undergraduates.
The security guard at the front gate was more than helpful with our questions and directed to us to our room. We arrived on a Sunday so the college wasn’t bustling with activity. It was an almost serene church-like atmosphere as we wandered about the halls.
Our room was neat and clean. The freshly made bed was nice and firm. Usual bed and breakfast staples awaited our arrival. A kettle with various teas, instant coffee and biscuits, a small refrigerator with water bottles, and an interesting portfolio concerning the history of the college. The centerpiece of our room was a lovely fireplace. Although obviously not in use anymore, it still added character and warmth to our surroundings. Opening the windows to let in some fresh air, the first thing we noticed is how quiet this area is. St-Hugh’s is in Park Town on the North side of Oxford, at the corner of St-Margaret’s and Banbury Roads.
The sky threatened rain so we headed outside to explore the property while we could. Magpies and a rose garden, lavender bushes and old leafy trees. Fourteen acres of lush greenery almost made us forget we were in the city. From the garden, you notice the contrast in architecture with the original buildings side by side with the modern. This accentuated the fact that St-Hugh’s has a storied history yet remains at the cutting edge of education.
THE CITY NEARBY
We walked along Banbury Road to Oxford city center for a bite to eat. There are no commercial establishments near the college. But the city offers anything you could possibly want from pubs to upscale eateries. The famous Ashmolean Museum is the first landmark on the way, and well worth a visit. A walk down the pedestrian-only Cornmarket Street is a must with its buskers and shops. The Saxon Tower at St-Michael is found here, the oldest tower in Oxford dating back to 1040 when Oxford still had city walls.
We took a slight detour on the way back and walked through Jericho, This area features funky pubs and eateries, minutes from St-Hugh’s. Back at the college, we enjoyed the grounds once more, indulging in our surroundings before calling it a day. We had walked several miles and it was time to put our feet up. We slept with the windows open, allowing the quietness of the night envelope us as we drifted off to sleep.
In the morning we took advantage of the spotless shower before heading to the dining room for breakfast. The dining area was easy to find and breakfast was full on. This was going to be a wonderful meal with eggs scrambled and sunny side up, rashers and sausage, baked beans, hash browns, toast, croissants, fruit, cereal, porridge, tea, coffee, juice, milk…it was really quite a spread. Breakfast alone is worth the price of admission!
Checkout was at 10am, so we gathered our things and out the door, we went. We needed to get to the train station, which is a long walk when you are carrying a couple of heavy backpacks. However, we discovered there are several buses along Banbury Road, each one taking you to the city center, and some will take you directly to the train strain station with no transfers along the way (we took the 500 bus). We were at the train station in less than 15 minutes from the time we left our room.
ALL IN ALL…
The St-Hugh’s BnB was a great experience and well worth your consideration if you are planning a stay in Oxford. Although it’s perhaps a mile or so to the city center, the payoff is the quietness of the area which we truly appreciated. Many buses on Banbury Road will get you to Cornmarket Street in the city center in less than 10 minutes. From there, it’s an easy walk to Christchurch, Oxford Castle, and more incredible buildings that are part of Oxford University and the city itself. A single adult bus fare is £2.20 and one will come along shortly – even on a Sunday.
We truly enjoyed spending time in Oxford, and part of that is due to a pleasant stay at the St-Hugh’s Bed and Breakfast.
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Mike & Dianne