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Why Oxfordshire is the place for the ultimate British escape this winter

Stars including Emma Watson and Benedict Cumberbatch are fans of the Oxfordshire countryside

Harriet Charnock-Bates

With patchwork fields, a laid-back foodie scene and a maze of pretty lanes to explore, the Oxfordshire countryside is the ultimate British escape. Find out the best places to stay, eat and explore in the region...

Stay: Since it opened earlier this year, Artist Residence Oxfordshire has risen to prominence as the preferred rural hideaway for London’s movers and shakers, and it’s not hard to see why. Owners Justin and Charlie have created a characterful home from home in what was once a legendary boozer. Blending the traditional with a dose of industrial cool, the five bedrooms are tucked snugly into the eaves and feature stripped-back beams, cashmere throws and vintage tea chests as bedside tables. Downstairs, the pub still remains but it’s been given something of a facelift - neon signs hang above hand-woven rugs and the down-to-earth bar staff mix a mean Negroni.

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Taste: Mr Hanbury's Dining Room at Artist Residence dishes up rustic pub grub - from smoked brisket with mash and caramelised onions to vanilla rice pudding with plums and sorrel - in suitably twinkly surrounds. After a yomp around the fields, sample the local ales that take centre stage at The Feathered Nest or stop off at The Wild Rabbit for a hearty lunch beside the fire.

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Indulge: If you’ve set your sights on a spangly new season wardrobe or feel like getting ahead in the Christmas shopping stakes, there’s only one thing for it: Bicester Village. The style mecca has just welcomed The British Collective - a gifting house curated by interior designer and illustrator Luke Edward Hall, and there’s a slew of new boutiques and pop-ups (think Joseph, Roksanda, See By Chloé and Cowshed) to take advantage of.

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Explore: A grand baroque icon, Blenheim Palace and its sprawling gardens are not to be missed, and the hedgerows that flank the surrounding country lanes make for marvellous foraging territory. Oxford itself is just half an hour away by car - hire a punt and glide past the Christ Church College Meadows or wander around the recently revamped Ashmolean Museum, stuffed to the brim with historical and archeological marvels.

What to wear:

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Blenheim Bouquet Eau de Toilette, £72, Penhaligon’s; visit penhaligons.com

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Cheltenham coat in willow herringbone, £239, Joules; visit joules.com

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Inclement cropped tassel boot, £389, Penelope Chilvers from penelopechilvers.com

TRIP DETAILS:

Rooms at Artist Residence begin at £150 per night on a bed and breakfast basis; visit artistresidenceoxford.co.uk. Trainline offers return tickets from London to Hanborough and they can be sent straight to your smartphone; download the Trainline App or visit trainline.com

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