Famed for its university, historic mansions and stately homes, as well as its popularity as a film location (“you’re a wizard, Harry”), Oxfordshire serves its visitors everything from quaint market towns to friendly gargoyles. Home to Woodstock, Blenheim Palace and as much literary history you could shake a Tolkien-inspired ale at, dog-friendly Oxfordshire is the pawfect place to treat Fido.
Time to ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross! Or so the nursery rhyme goes. From here we’re trotting straight into Oxford city centre. The city is full of pup-friendly personality, with gargoyles adorning many buildings. Beautiful dog-friendly Port Meadow is the perfect place to city stroll with pup. The impressive common and river are conveniently placed for exciting eateries. The Perch, just off Port Meadow, is a lovely 17th century pub where pups are welcome to join you for seasonal menus and home-baked breads. Also off Port Meadow, the Rickety Press pub is equally as pup welcoming, and is a stand-out Oxford pub with its own delicious woodfire pizzas.
When paws get sleepy, do time in fabulously dog-friendly Malmaison, a boutique hotel housed in a former Victorian prison. Don’t worry, the rooms aren’t like jail cells but come richly decorated with home comforts. It would be a crime not to stay! Alternatively, check in to the Macdonald Randolph Hotel, a 5* hotel that welcomes pups with open arms. Situated opposite the Ashmolean, the Randolph is sumptuous, with ornate furnishings and lavish bedding.
Dog-friendly countryside with a royal flair
Moving out of the city and into Oxfordshire lies Woodstock. Majestic Blenheim Palace is Woodstock’s jewel in the crown. This simply splendid, baroque masterpiece is the principle residence of the Dukes of Marlborough and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Treat your four-legged friend to a regal day out in Blenheim Palace grounds , where pups can enjoy sniffing out the meticulously well-kept gardens. Make sure you pack a lead.
Continue your regal theme by heading to the Woodstock Arms, which shares the same butcher as The Queen of England. This is a traditional pub where pups are welcome in the bar and courtyard. When it’s time for a night cap, check into The Feathers, a contemporary hotel that embraces its historic roots in an oh-so-pup-friendly fashion with colourful interiors. There are six dog-friendly rooms and you must visit the hotel’s equally pup-friendly Gin Bar.
Take a 5-star swing through the Chilterns
Heading into south-east Oxfordshire takes us to the Chiltern Hills and its many lovely surrounding villages. Tucked between Wheatley and Tetsworth is Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, a 5* hotel famed for its two Michelin star restaurant. This magnificent country house is the brain child of chef Raymond Blanc who serves his visitors an unforgettable experience. Fido can enjoy the stay in one of the three dog-friendly rooms, and within the pretty grounds, while sniffing the culinary air.
Take pup into nearby Tetsworth, where you can dip into the quaint shops. For pups with an eye for antiques, the restaurant at The Swan Antiques Centre is dog-friendly and offers a lovely menu with conversation-starter surroundings. Trot off your lunch by taking a short ride into the Chiltern Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and spot red kites from the trails leading out of nearby Radnage. The Chilterns are full of valleys so expect a fair few slopes! When it’s time to rest those muddy paws, hop over to nearby Thame where pup-friendly pub The Black Horse celebrates Gallic cuisine alongside an impressive wine list.
Don’t forget to visit the dog-friendly Cotswolds
A trip to Oxfordshire wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the gorgeous nearby Cotswolds, and its quintessential English countryside. Try Burford as a sleepy base, where pups are welcome to stay at the Bay Tree Hotel that’s full of historical charm. After a day trotting the countryside, have a bite to eat at the Lamb Inn, also in Burford, where pups are greeted with a bowl of treats in the dog-friendly bar, lounge and garden.
With so much on offer, dog-friendly Oxfordshire is fast becoming our favourite Shire. Remember to bring Fido’s mortarboard – such a clever dog!