27 June 2024

My Love of Oxford

As a destination for events, it’s hard to top Oxford. Now, I may be a little bias as it’s on my doorstep, but this city really does have it all!

Oxford’s biggest draw of course is the fact that it’s steeped in history and is beautiful with its cobbled streets, riverbanks and some of the UK’s oldest buildings. It has a magical air about it, which adds to the experience when hosting events here.

However, it’s not all olde world. Alongside the historical landscape, Oxford is a world leader in university education and has an array of venues to suit all sorts of events together with several new venues, hotels and restaurants all offering incredible variety and options.

As an event planning professional, having the opportunity to mix both the new and old is a wonderful option to have, as many of the colleges are perfect for hosting a variety of events and accommodating guests. They also add that air of nostalgia and exclusivity.

Oxford’s newest hotel opening is the long-awaited 5-star Store Hotel boasting 101 bedrooms, a rooftop bar, a spa and several event spaces. Opening in May in what used to be Boswells of Oxford, the city’s oldest department store which dated from 1738 and closed in 2020, this new luxury lifestyle hotel will provide guests with a wonderful base for their stay in Oxford. The Store combines with The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels, an elegant and historic Oxford landmark, to complement the 5-star offering in Oxford. There are also a handful of small boutique hotels all with individual touches and interesting event spaces with the Malmaison Oxford, on the site of the old jail, offering a quirky yet luxurious option.

Activity-wise, there is something for everyone. You can sit back and relax while punting along the beautiful River Thames and Cherwell or cycle along the cobbled streets and riverside paths or allow your creativity to flow and paint the stunning buildings of Oxford perched on the riverbanks. Recently I assisted with a music meditation experience at the Holywell Music Room, the oldest custom-built concert hall in Europe which can be hired for conferences, weddings and lectures. This was an amazing experience for all, and my first.

The beauty of Oxford is that you can walk everywhere! One summer, I organised a company offsite for 450 Norwegians in Oxford. It was an amazing event to be a part of. Guests stayed at three colleges – Pembroke, Queen’s and St Anne’s – and participated in a variety of activities both in and out of Oxford. We hosted a wonderful Edwardian Ball at the Oxford University Museum of National History and a finale event at Oxford Town Hall, which was fabulous. The guests loved how quintessentially English Oxford is and loved being able to walk the cobbled streets to each destination or activity.

Recently I freelanced on the Skoll World Forum hosted by the Skoll Foundation who are dedicated to building a sustainable world of peace and prosperity for all. For the last 20 years they have hosted this global forum in Oxford, pretty much taking over the whole city – over 1,700 delegates attended this year! My role as Evening Events Assistant was varied and took me to a wonderful range of venues – 25 in total – across the city providing dinners and experiential events in restaurants and colleges.

In September, I am working with an American company on their CEO Forum for 55 people in Oxford. They will be staying for two nights at the Malmaison Oxford with the Forum taking place each day at Christ Church College, just a 10-minute walk from the hotel, and a dinner in the semi-private area of the Cosy Club. Once again, their mode of transport will be their own two feet, and I’m really looking forward to seeing their reaction to Oxford and hearing their thoughts!

As well as the city itself, Oxford is the gateway to the Cotswolds, has Blenheim Palace and Waddesdon Manor within easy distance, and is one of the best places in the UK to live and work.

Do let me know if you have visited! It will be great to share some experiences

Have an event in mind? Call Lucy on 07989 229 984

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