There’s no denying that 2021 looks set to continue to be the year of the staycation. Not only is it great to discover what we have on our doorsteps, but it’s also helping to boost the economy as things ease up after lockdown. And now Bicester Village has partnered with Experience Oxfordshire to highlight the county’s hidden treasures.
I have been to Bicester Village many a time and do like a bit of shopping, but I discovered a lot more during my recent trip to Oxfordshire. How I never knew that just a few miles from this open-air luxury shopping destination, is a hidden gem in the shape of Rousham House and Gardens is beyond me. But now I have discovered it; I will be returning to it in the not-too-distant future.
Rousham is completely unspoilt and uncommercialised. You won’t find a single tea room or shop here, which sets it apart. Rousham represents the first phase of English landscape designs, and to this day, this masterpiece remains almost exactly as its designer William Kent left it in the 18th Century. These are simply glorious gardens to explore at your leisure in and at almost every corner and turn, you’ll be wowed with well-manicured pockets of nature.
It was raining and gloomy during my visit, but nothing dampened my joy of being here. Its walled garden with its herbaceous borders, small parterre, pigeon house and espaliers made for a great day to walk around and get absorbed in all its beauty.
International travel is picking up, but not everyone is keen to board a flight. Reports suggest 73 per cent of Brits say they are likely to travel within the UK after coronavirus. In a bid to help tourists to make the most of a trip to Oxfordshire’s amazing attractions, Bicester Village has commissioned a series of twelve illustrations by local artist Olympia Olympitis, including some of the finest estates and gardens.
It’s hoped this will help day-trippers and staycation enthusiasts expand their visit to the area during a trip to the outdoor shopping experience at Bicester Village.
Oxfordshire has 30 million visitors flocking to it each year, making it one of the UK’s top hot spots (figures taken from 2019 pre-Covid-19). Its calculated tourists help contribute towards £2.5billion into the local economy and support over 42,000 jobs. And there’s plenty to do in this region which can be explored on more than one visit.
Choose from the popular Winston Churchill afternoon tea at Blenheim Palace or quaff champagne and strawberries whilst punting on the river. Jeremy Clarkson fans can head to his Diddly Squat farm for a nosey around or enjoy a relaxing stay at The Old Parsonage.
If you’re one of the many who enjoy a spot of shopping, Bicester Village will not disappoint. With more than 160 boutiques and new openings (Jil Sander, Isabel Marant, Elemis, Sunspel, Sarah Chapman, Jo Malone), there’s also a brand new personal shopping suite opening on October 15th. Creative Spot, a platform to support young designers including Patrick McDowell and Alighieri will also go live via the popular virtual shopping service.
Parents will be pleased to know they can keep their children entertained with the children’s playground, so there’s plenty to keep the whole family occupied.
Dining out at the village is also a must-do, especially if, like me, you build up an appetite while exploring the aforementioned gardens. With an abundant offer of global cuisine and outdoor terraces, including the award-winning La Tua Pasta, London Grade Coffee, farm shop café and restaurant, the British classic Café Wolseley and Shan Shui, the tough part is choosing where to dine.
I can highly recommend Café Wolseley, where there are plenty of healthy dishes to choose from.
Oh, and the new hospitality guide has just launched to attract even more tourists to Oxfordshire. Need a helping hand on where to visit and what to do? Olympia Olympitus has created a downloadable map that can be used to plan the perfect day out or a staycation via www.Bicestervillage.com/staycationmap. As you will discover, one trip really is not enough, and this just goes to prove it really does put the county firmly on the map.
Experience Oxfordshire – Where and How?
If you would like to know more about Experience Oxfordshire and the benefits of becoming a partner, please visit www.experienceoxfordshire.org/partner or call 01865 686439. Rousham Gardens are open daily throughout the year from 10 am. The last admission is at 4.30 pm, and the gardens close at dusk.
Tickets for entry into the garden are £8 per person, and these can be purchased on arrival. Rousham House is only open by prior arrangement where the cost is £15 per person, with a minimum fee of £150.
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