The Best Places to Kiss in Oxford
"Why give her bunch of flowers when she could have a whole garden?"
Don’t waste your money on the Hallmark card that 1-in- 5 of your friends will give or receive this Valentine’s Day. Instead, take a tour of this gorgeous city and fall in love with its history. In true Valentine's Day spirit, I have devised a list of the places that arouse feelings of love (and yes, lust) but there is only one catch...you have to kiss someone at each of these spots.
Disclaimer: No members of the public were harmed (or forced to kiss me) whilst writing this feature.
Oxford has an abundance of open spaces; what's more, spending the day exploring the city's majestic parks is absolutely free. Take, for example, the University Parks, offering a range of flora and fauna throughout the year, a large, circular lily pond filled with ducks and swans and strategically placed benches under sweeping trees, this is an idyllic spot for a romantic rendezvous. Whether you’re walking your dog hand in hand or going for a jog together, the tranquil beauty of the parks pulls you far away from the din of the city and envelopes you in a lovestruck bubble.
Why give her bunch of flowers when she could have a whole garden? For a small fee of £5 per person, take your love around and explore the tropical treasures in the glasshouses in the colder months.
On the River Thames
Love may lift you up, but it certainly doesn’t make you walk on water, so sticking with the great outdoors, stroll through Christ Church Meadow and rent a small row boat for £20 from Salter’s Steamers. There is something incredibly calming about being on the water, with the beautiful backdrop of the meadow to accompany you whilst winding through the offshoots of the river. You’re probably thinking of the scene in The Notebook where bearded Ryan Gosling’s muscles ripple through his shirt as he rows the elegant Rachel McAdams across a serene lake laden with white geese. (In actual fact, it will probably be more of a Bridget Jones affair, with one of you in the water). Some physical exertion will be required and it might not be the most glamorous hour of the day, but as long as you can calculate the correct distribution of weight across the small vessel you’ll be in with a chance of executing a smooch fit for the silver screen.
February is not known for being the warmest or driest month of the year, but while you wait for the clouds to shift take your partner to a museum, right in the heart of the city. The Museum of Natural History speaks to your inner geek, while the Ashmolean calls to the historian and art lover, yet both offer stunning exhibitions. The passionate stories of loves lost which are then preserved through time in marble, clay or on the canvas will provide the romantic overtones, whereas the shrunken heads, the ancient weapons of war and the hundreds of species of insects/dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum will encourage your date to cling to your arm for protection. Either way, you’re guaranteed a lip-locking moment.
The Varsity Club
Oh sweet alcohol, the confidence boosting elixir. Sure, you can go to a bar, down a few pints and kiss pretty much anyone, including the floor. But let’s keep it classy, this time. Overlooking the dreaming spires of Oxford, the rooftop bar at the Varsity Club on the High Street is the place to be for great deals on cocktails and a cosy seat with a view – and there are plenty of heaters, heated seats and blankets to set the mood. Granted, the 20 flights of stairs to get to the roof could result in you needing mouth to mouth, but that still counts as a kiss!
Converted from a Victorian prison to a striking luxury hotel, the Malmaison in the Castle Quarter is dignified, sexy and mysterious all at once. In any hotel, there is a lot more than just kissing going on but I’m not talking about an overnight stay. Rather, at the bar on the first floor, with the first-class cocktails and the ‘come hither’ vibes, there is very little need for Dutch courage in this establishment, as the plush furniture and darkly coloured decor help create the perfect trysting place.
Is it just me or are the most intriguing things always just out of reach? It may seem that way with the Colleges dotted around the city, boasting truly breathtaking settings. The “secret gardens” as I call them, are right at our doorstep and waiting to entice and enchant. Don’t be put off by the large walls surrounding the grounds, the Colleges are open to the public throughout the year – some charges may apply, but this varies. Harry Potter lovers will be wrapped up in the bewitching halls of Christ Church before stepping out into the world famous Quad, while Exeter College offers a quieter setting, one with a seat and a terrace that overlooks Radcliffe Square. The distant sounds of the city passing accompanied by the remarkable view are almost otherworldly.
It may not look like or seem like the most exciting place to share a kiss, but think of the thousands of people who have welcomed a lover with a warm embrace at the train station. Months, weeks, days of not seeing someone and then...there they are, eager and waiting. If that’s not romantic then I don’t know what is!