Reviewed: Rabbie’s Oxford & the Cotswolds tour

Exploring Oxford & the Cotswolds aboard a Rabbie’s luxury minibus

Having never visited Oxford, I was delighted to be invited along on this luxury trip, being driven in style in a brand-new Mercedes 16-seater minibus. In fact, it turned out to be Rabbie’s inaugural Bristol to Oxford trip.

With a first stop in Oxford with three hours to enjoy, we set off with the handy map provided highlighting some of the many places to visit. We went in search of coffee and food, and decided to visit the infamous Turf Tavern known among other things for Bill Clinton admitting he smoked dope (but didn’t inhale) and Bob Hawke, former Australian PM, who drank a yard of ale in 11 seconds!

En route we meandered through the covered market, full of indie shops and eateries. Then, tucked away down a narrow alleyway, we arrived at our destination. We managed to just miss the rush and the coffee and fishcakes were both excellent, although we were left unimpressed by the abrupt and frosty reception on arrival.

Oxford, as you might expect being home to ‘the oldest English-speaking university in the world’, is packed with stunning architecture from the Clarendon Building and the Bridge of Sighs to Christchurch College. If you fancy a stroll away from the hubbub, it’s worth taking in the beautiful water meadows.

Next stop, the Cotswolds – for me this is undeniably one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited before – full of delightful clichés from ‘chocolate box’ to country charm. And after a beautiful drive through gorgeous countryside, we arrived at our second destination, Burford, the gateway to the Cotswolds, where we had an hour to visit and indulge in one of the many patisseries and do a spot of shopping.

Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford University
Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford University

From here a short hop to nearby Bibury, penned ‘The most beautiful village in England’ by William Morris, the 19th-century textile designer, artist, poet and craftsman. The sudden deluge of rain as we arrived didn’t deter us from visiting one of England’s most photographed sites, Arlington Row. We learnt from our trusted driver and guide that Arlington Row, dating back to 1380, is in fact owned by the National Trust and is leased to private tenants (and one is available as a holiday rental).

Barny, our driver, kept us entertained throughout with a mix of fact-filled nuggets of information – such as Blackbeard’s sticky end, the decline of the wool industry, where you could spot the King out buying a sausage roll, the best cake shops in Burford and much more – and a great choice of music.

St Mary's University Church
St Mary’s University Church

The trip was carefully planned out and the three beautiful spots we visited ensured there was enough time at each to take in the sights and not spend too long travelling. The seats were really comfortable and it was lovely to relax and enjoy the stunning countryside on the drive back until we hit the M4.

Our only suggestion would be if there is something specific you would like to visit/do while in Oxford, it would be worth checking out in advance as you may need to book or check if open, particularly the university buildings. (Maybe the map could be emailed out before the trip?) We had wanted to visit a viewing platform at St Mary’s Church but the waiting list proved too long on this occasion. However, there was plenty more to enjoy on our trip.

Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable day!