What vaguely academic type hasn't imagined themselves strolling the hallowed - and cobbled - lanes of Oxford, between the 'dreaming spires' and Gothic architecture the colour of biscuits? And in person it's even better than what you can imagine. Plus all of our recommendations for the best places to stay in Oxford are ideally located to make the most of this city.
There's a youthful energy about the place, which comes from having such a large population of open minded students. And as well as the 'gown' element of Oxford - the tours of university grounds and visits to the Ashmolean, there's also the 'town'. And the river.
Oxford's oldest colleges are around 700 years old - a spectacular age for a university building to remain so unchanged for - so the colleges, scattered around the city, make up many of the main sights of Oxford.
On a short break visit to Oxford it's also worth trying to fit in at least one museum, (the Ashmolean being the obvious one), a stroll around the outside of the Radcliffe Camera, see something of the Bodleian Library, and, if the weather allows for it, go for a punt on the Isis.
You may also want to visit the Museum of Oxford, which tells the tale of the city, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, home to the Oxford Dodo, and the Pitt Rivers Museum, an ethnology museum still arranged in the Victorian style.
Jericho is the trendy, artsy end of Oxford, and where you can find the art house cinema, fringe style theatres and plenty of hipster bars and restaurants, or if you're after something more upmarket try Summertown to the north.
Oxford has a notoriously challenging one way system, and limited parking, but many of the main sights in Oxford are within walking distance of the centre of town. And remember, much of Oxford's traffic is of the two-wheeled, self-propelled variety, so if you want to explore further then maybe consider hiring a bike? Many of the best places to stay in Oxford will be able to help you with this.
What could be more romantic than punting on the Isis and strolling amongst the beautiful grounds and even more impressive buildings of this wonderfully aesthetic city?
As well as visiting as many colleges as are open to the public when you're in Oxford - out of term time is the time when the largest number of colleges are open to visitors - those interested in Oxford's history should try and see All Souls, which supposedly has the world's hardest entrance exam, and New College, which straddles Oxford's ancient city walls.
Malmaison Oxford has become well known for the previous inhabitants of the building - prisoners. Yes, this now quirky and contemporary hotel was once a castle and a prison, and it still has the heavy doors, with their telltale dents, and barred windows to prove it.
But it's surprisingly light and airy too - the vast, three storey central atrium is spectacular, and you can sit outside in the Exercise Yard or sip cocktails in the Visitor's Room. This is one of the best places to stay in Oxford whether you're local or visiting - it's a real experience!
If you're happy with your spires and traditional sandstone outside and like something a bit more contemporary inside, book a room at the Old Bank Hotel. This was an old bank, and the Georgian facade makes that very clear, but parts of the building are Elizabethan, and in the Tudor part there are some spectacular exposed beams and latticed windows. But even the most traditional features are finished with a stylish, contemporary edge. There's modern art on the walls and the brasserie is always packed.
Oxford (3 New Road)
Fantastically modern interiors and stunning atrium in this atmospheric castle and former prison. Sleep in converted cells with original fittings and Gothic colours. New, airier rooms are also available in the additional buildings. Good brasserie food and a smart neon-lit cocktail bar.
Robustly elegant, quintessentially English and extremely comfortable, The Macdonald Randolph Hotel is perfectly situated on the corner of Beaumont Street and St Giles, within easy walking distance of enough historic sites to satiate the appetite of the most culturally hungry traveller.
Sophisticated hotel with buzzing brasserie and bar. Tudor interiors updated with chic styling and large beds. Discreet and laid back luxury and perfectly positioned for sights. Contemporary art on the walls. An ideal city stay.
A luxury boutique hotel in a wonderfully old building. The rooms have simple contemporary design. Bathrooms are pleasingly indulgent. A small but well stocked library is awaiting academics. Punts are available for the stereotypical Oxford experience. The restaurant is excellent. Highly recommended.