SPECIAL OFFER! Book tickets for Blenheim Palace directly at Heythrop Park hotel for a 10% saving on a standard day ticket that includes entry to the Estate, Formal Gardens and Palace. Enquire at reception upon arrival.
Please note: This offer is not available between 13 November 2023 until 3 January 2024.
The ancestral home of the Churchill family, 300 years of history lies within this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Gilded state rooms in the palace, priceless tapestries and portraits, formal gardens, a yew tree maze and ‘upstairs’ and ‘downstairs’ tours bring it all to glorious life. Tickets must be booked in advance.
The Churchill Exhibition in the palace is dedicated to the lives of one of Britain’s most famous families.
The former wool trading town weaves the old with the new. The Grade I listed church is a fine example from the 15th century and there’s a Neoclassical Town Hall and alms houses. A broad pick of art galleries and antique and gift shops are full of bustle, as are the pubs.
The Rollright Stones | Two miles away is a 5,000-year-old ceremonial landmark comprising The King’s Men stone circle, the King Stone and the Whispering Knights.
Open since 2014, 90-minute tours explain the distillation process and culminate in a tasting. The award-winning Cotswolds Dry Gin and Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky are on the menu, plus liqueurs. Gin and whisky blending masterclasses - create that perfect serve - are also available.
The cocktail masterclass is about hands-on mixing, muddling and shaking to create a personalised Martini-style cocktail.
Nicknamed the Venice of The Cotswolds, it could win the prize for most handsome village. Low bridges straddle the River Windrush, leading to antique rooms, bakeries, cafes and gift shops. A large bird park, maze, model village and brewery rank among the attractions.
Cotswold Motoring Museum | From Jaguars to sporty MGs, rare and classic vehicles and memorabilia provide a ride through 20th century motoring.
Crocodiles of the World
The nation’s only crocodile zoo hosts regular talks and underwater viewings offering a glimpse into the life of 18 species, Nile crocodiles, American alligators and black caiman among them. Otters, meerkats, Galapagos tortoises and a Komodo dragon also call it home. Tickets must be booked in advance.
The feeding demo to witness the crocs in full predatory mode jumping out of the water.
Perhaps the best-known of the Cotswolds towns, and the highest, the large market square is edged by town houses and boutiques with the focus on antiques. Local produce is easy to come by in the pubs and cafes and there’s an art gallery and medieval church.
St Edwards Church where the fairytale-esque north door is said to be the inspiration for Tolkien’s Doors of Durin in ‘Lord of the Rings’.
Upton House and Gardens
Dating from 1695 and remodelled in the 1930s, Lord and Lady Bearsted’s former country retreat is now National Trust owned. It’s more like a gallery than a home with one of England’s finest collection of artworks, including rare porcelain and famous paintings.
The house is an accredited museum with famous paintings by artists such as Hogarth, George Stubbs and Gainsborough.
Bicester Village designer shopping
This open-air outlet offers the A to Z of highbrow boutiques with more than 160 brands selling fashion, beauty and homeware. From Armani to Zwilling, shopaholics can enjoy year-round discounts of up to 60% as well as pitstops at a big selection of cafes and restaurants.
Food kiosks dot the main street or there’s always the Secret Garden Café for treats beneath an indoor floral canopy.
This medieval city is famous for its university colleges – their cloisters and lawns are a joy to wander. Book shops here are unbeatable too and the Ashmolean Museum, Pitt Rivers Museum and Oxford University Museum of Natural History house extraordinary exhibits.
Punting on the river, or even a small boat or pedalo, is a different way to see the sights.