Oxford is home to some of the most romantic bars and restaurants I’ve ever visited. If you’re looking to impress your girlfriend, boyfriend, lover, tute partner turned life partner, Tinder date, or the girl you fell in love with at Bridge last night, look no further than this list of idyllic date destinations.
1) The Varsity Club
The Varsity Club is Oxford High Street’s hottest date place. The trendy cocktail lounge and restaurant, made up of three floors and a large roof terrace, boasts a playlist of romantic, relaxing tunes and a reasonably priced drinks menu. In Trinity term, the rooftop bar is an ideal destination for a first – or a thirtieth – date. Cosy up with your partner against the backdrop of Oxford’s dazzling skyline, and bond over cocktails and snacks from the bar. In Michaelmas and Hilary terms, TVC’s indoor space is equally romantic and intimate, and the snug sofas in the bar area are ideal for a cosy rendezvous.
Info: 9 High Street Oxford OX1 4DB. Tel: 01865 248777
Gee’s is ideal if you’re looking for a romantic, elegant restaurant to visit with your significant other. Built in 1898, the brightly lit, plant-adorned glasshouse is airy and atmospheric, and boasts a selection of rustic, regularly redesigned menus for lunch, brunch, and dinner. Though the bijou restaurant is on the more expensive side – with prices of mains on the current all day menu ranging from £14.50 to £28.95 – its Mediterranean style food is excellent, and the enchanting design of the conservatory makes for a magical evening. If it’s a special occasion, or if you’re in a particularly spendthrift mood, you could treat yourself and your partner to a drink from the bar’s expansive wine list, and watch the evening turn into night from the inside of the Victorian glasshouse.
Info: 61 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6PE. Tel: 01865 553540
3) The Duke of Cambridge
The Duke of Cambridge is a personal favourite of mine. The atmosphere in the trendy bar is consistently vibrant, and the friendly bar staff and chilled music add to its appeal. The relaxed vibe of the bar – combined with the fact that it’s always bustling with students – will immediately eliminate any first date nerves, as will the bar’s bounteous alcohol supply. During the bar’s happy hours (4pm to 9pm Sunday to Thursday, and 4pm to 7.30pm Friday and Saturday), cocktails are priced from £4.95, so you can live within the means of your student loan and simultaneously impress your date with your knowledge of Jericho’s finest bars. Perhaps indulge in a ‘Sharer for Two’ – I recommend the delicious raspberry martini – before taking a romantic post-drinks stroll in the quiet backstreets of Jericho.
Info: 5-6 Little Clarendon St, Oxford OX1 2HP. Tel: 01865 558173
4) The Rickety Press
The Rickety Press is an ideal date destination if you tend to take a relaxed approach to courtship. The restaurant lacks the elegance and artistry of Gee’s, but it makes up for it in its rustic, quirky design – the restaurant’s walls are lined with books and Bohemian artwork – and delicious food. The Rickety Press offers a variety of mouth-watering, albeit slightly pricy, burgers – from their signature ‘The Dodo’ burger at £9, to their new ‘Holy Guacamole’ sweet potato, black bean and quinoa patty at £9.75 – as well as delicious wood fired pizza, with prices starting from £6.50. Though the venue isn’t the most overtly romantic of Oxford’s restaurants, its buzzy, homely atmosphere makes it the perfect setting for an unconventional, intimate date, deep in the heart of Jericho.
Info: 67 Cranham Street, Jericho, Oxford OX2 6DE. Tel: 01865 424581
5) Turl Street Kitchen
Located in the centre of Oxford, Turl Street Kitchen is a cosy, pretty restaurant, perfect for a candlelit dinner for two, or simply for a romantic hot chocolate shared on the sofas upstairs. The menu offers a variety of enticing dishes, all which are locally and freshly sourced – perhaps flirt over a plate of maple roast butternut squash, or, if you’re feeling slightly more risqué, make a declaration of love over a TSK bread and butter pudding.
Info: 16-17 Turl Street, Oxford, OX1 3DH. Tel: 01865 264171