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Valentine’s Day in Oxford: A Guide

9 February 2017 | Alice Robinson

How to celebrate Valentine’s Day in the City of Dreaming Spires? Whether you’re all coupled-up, or happily single and wanting to party with the friends you love, there are plenty of places to toast to the works of Cupid – or have such a great time you forget red roses even exist. Your choice.

Where to Drink

Be At One

If you want a reliable cocktail experience, look no further than the branch of this chain on the Cowley Roundabout. With some of the friendliest bar staff around, and a huge range of cocktails (including hazelnut-salted-caramel extravaganza, the Bueno, and the intensely refreshing Candy Pants), it’s a great place for a date. Download the app before you go, and you can use their ‘Appi Hour’ promotion: if you take your phone to the bar, a bartender will activate your very own sixty minutes of two cocktails for the price of one.

Be At One is at 15 St Clement’s Street.

The Lighthouse / Kazbar

For some seriously tasty nibbles to have with your cocktails, head down to the Lighthouse, which serves tapas along with drinks. With a Tastecard you can get two-for-one tapas – we recommend the Patatas Bravas – and there’s a happy hour every day from 5pm-8pm, which gets you £5 off every bottle of wine, or two-for-one cocktails. Bonus: unlike other places, the two drinks don’t have to be exactly the same cocktail – the Sea Breeze is a particularly popular choice.
Don’t worry, though, if you don’t fancy braving the city centre and all the loved-up students. Kazbar on Cowley Road also serves a great array of tapas, has a lovely atmosphere (provided by some massive pot plants), and jugs of sangria. Yum.

Kazbar in the evening.
The Kazbar. Photo Credit: allispossible.org.uk

The Lighthouse is at 1 Park End Street.
Kazbar is at 25-27 Cowley Road.

Raoul’s

There’s really no shortage of great independent cocktail bars in Oxford (check out Freud’s re-purposed church location, The Duke of Cambridge’s crazy cheap happy hour, which includes cocktails for £3.95 (!), Angels’ very original drinks, and The Varsity Club’s famous rooftop). But our personal favourite is Raoul’s, which has friendly bar staff and a massive selection of delicious cocktails. With three floors of spaces varying from tall bar stools, to cosy booths, to smaller tables, there’s something for everyone, whether you’re taking a big group of friends or just one special someone.

Raoul’s is at 32 Walton Street.
 
Where to Eat

G&Ds

For those of you wanting pure indulgence, but who don’t have the money for a full three-course meal, G&Ds, Oxford’s most famous ice cream parlour, is the place to go. There are three branches all over Oxford’s centre, each with the same delicious ice cream. You can get a scoop, or baked goods, or both together. We recommend the epic ‘Cookie Monster’ – think two heated, melting cookies sandwiched together with any flavour of ice cream you like. Yum. It’s open until 11pm, so also a great place to stop off for dessert if the menu elsewhere doesn’t tempt you, or if you have to work late but still want to do something special.

G&Ds has locations across Oxford.

Gee’s

If you’re willing to splash some cash, Gee’s beautiful conservatory-dining room is a great place to dine. If you’re free for lunch, you can get three courses from their set menu for £16.50; or, if dinner is your only option, then there’s a massive variety of Mediterranean-inspired cooking to choose from. They even have some Valentine’s Day Specials, including oysters, a sirloin steak to share, and a dark chocolate fondant and almond ice cream. Book now, because they’ll be all full up for the 14 February very soon.

Gee’s is at 61 Banbury Road.

Atomic Pizza/Burger

For something a little cheaper, and a bit younger in theme, look no further than Atomic Burger on Cowley Road – or its secondary branch just up the street, Atomic Pizza. Both places produce some fantastic food (burgers and pizzas, duh), but it’s the decoration that really makes them special. The interiors are wall-to-wall comic-book cutouts, with models of Superman and the like hanging from the ceiling. The burgers and pizzas themselves are all named after cinema icons – from Forrest Gump to Audrey Hepburn to McLovin. There are gluten free and veggie options too, and the milkshakes are really something to behold. We recommend the Truffle Shuffle – a chocolate, peanut butter, and butterscotch shake with cream – and you can add popping candy for 25p for that extra zing.

Atomic Burger's double stack burger.
Atomic Burger

Atomic Burger is at 92 Cowley Road. Atomic Pizza is at 247 Cowley Road.
 
What to Do

Phoenix Picturehouse / Ultimate Picture Palace
Cinema lovers have two options. For independent film fans, the Phoenix Picturehouse in Jericho is showing LoveTrue, a movie from 2016 by Israeli-American director Alma Har’el exploring true love through explorations of three personal stories. More mainstream movie buffs need not fear though: the Ultimate Picture Palace is showing Oscar favourite La La Land on the night of the fourteenth. 

The Ultimate Picture Palace at night
The Ultimate Picture Palace at night.

The Phoenix Picturehouse is at 57 Walton Street.
The UPP is at Jeune Street, off Cowley Road.

Oxford Playhouse

Theatre lovers can see Pink Mist. Owen Shears’ new play tells the story of three young men deployed to Afghanistan. In the BT studio at the Playhouse, there’s also the university drama society’s New Writing Festival, which is performing both dark drama, The Parakeets, and farcical comedy, The Optimists.  

Oxford Playhouse is at Beaumont Street.

Breabach at The North Wall Arts Centre

If you fancy some music this Valentine’s Day, award-winning Scottish five-piece Breabach are playing their trademark contemporary folk music at 8pm at the North Wall Art Centre. For a more original way to spend Valentine’s Day, you can’t go far wrong with this.

The North Wall is at South Parade, Summertown.

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