Bicester Hotel Golf and Spa: Review

Winter is a good time to spa. My skin is a shade of inexplicable grey, hair is dull and no amount of lavender tea lifts the mood. So it was with relish that on a cold, crisp day in January I packed a case and accepted an invitation to experience Bicester Hotel Golf and Spa; a four star resort set against the backdrop of the Oxfordshire countryside.

Bicester is now renowned for luxury outlet shopping thanks to the retail park which has made the once quiet town its home since 1995. This has also made Bicester effortlessly accessible. Trains from Marylebone, London to Bicester North run on the hour each day. By car, from London, it’s a journey time of around 90 minutes or less.


As the name Bicester Hotel Golf and Spa suggests there is both an 18-hole golf course and a magnificent spa on the resort. Other facilities include a health club with gym, tennis courts, water spa and a 20-metre heated indoor pool perfect for families with young children.

My Saturday morning however, was spent at the Forest of Wellbeing Spa which has six treatment rooms. There are a variety of holistic treatments including full body massage therapies. Beauty treatments and facials using Elemis products have been designed to compliment the wellness offering. The 60-minute Jessica Deluxe Pedicure (£47), I opted for, included a soak, scrub and massage; a relaxing experience which made my toes sparkle. If visiting on weekends I recommend reserving early. The treatment rooms were busy throughout the weekend.


There are 52 rooms and suites at the family-owned Bicester Hotel Golf and Spa. The vast double room I occupied was spacious with a queen-size bed and soft sheets worthy of five stars. The twee soft yellow and grey decor was relaxing and fitting given the surroundings. It balanced the sense of country living with a modern space. Of course the testament to any hotel room is how well you sleep in it. I’m happy to add that my night here was perfectly restful and the service impeccable.

Eating and Drinking

Grays is the in-house restaurant which has spectacular lakeside views through floor to ceiling windows. Incidentally, you do not need to be a patron of the resort to eat here. The à la carte menu, created by Executive Chef Alan Paton, is a celebration of local food. Fish is sourced from a single sustainable, traceable supplier and local farms supply meat and fresh produce. This low-impact dining however makes no compromises on taste.

Starter of purple broccoli, Oxford blue cheese and blood orange wild rice (£7.50) was exceptional. The same was true of the pan-fried salmon with orzo pasta, kale and wild mushroom broth (£18.75). The standout dish for me was dessert; bread and butter pudding with vanilla ice cream (£7).

Before my departure on Sunday I enjoyed brunch at the Portrait Lounge; a more casual dining space. The menu here is best enjoyed with friends in small dishes as you might order tapas. I shared a tremendous butternut squash soup with bread (£5) with a companion. The vegetable burger (£13) and sweet potato fries were a notable winning combination.

Things to do

If golfing and pampering is not all you demand from a hotel stay there’s still plenty more to do. Afternoon Tea (£18 and £22 with a glass of Prosecco) is served at Grays Restaurant between 12 to 5pm from Monday to Friday and starts a little later at 12.30pm at weekends. From savoury salmon, cucumber and ham sandwiches to wonderfully light scones and cakes this was an absolute treat.

Bicester Village retail outlet is certainly worth a visit if you wish to break up your stay. It’s only a five minute journey and taxis can be arranged at the reception. Hotel guests enjoy an additional 10% off at Bicester Village via a QR code added to your smart phone wallets. Alternatively you can also access a link from the hotel booking confirmation which offers the same discount.

Do you really need any more reasons to visit Bicester Hotel Golf and Spa? Well, here’s another: Use code BHSPA10 and receive 10% off Spa Breaks when you book direct.

Rooms at Bicester Village Golf and Spa cost £99 per night and include breakfast. Spa breaks start from £132 per person. To book visit  or call  01869 241204.

Oxford is abuzz with a brand new bar opening

I was invited to the latest opening of Keeper’s Kitchen and Bar in Oxford last week. I love Oxford and was thrilled to be able to return and attend the event. Keeper’s is conveniently located on the busy high street and sits within Mercure Hotel. The building was once frequented by JRR Tolkien, no less, and fittingly overlooks parts of the University of Oxford. This of course, is the chain’s third venue. There are two others in London and Bristol. Keepers Kitchen and Bar is so named as it champions urban honey. Their menu is a hive (I had to) of honey-inspired food and drink. The launch party was the perfect setting for tasting most of it.

What’s on their menu? We had Keepr’s infused spirits: Cotswolds honey spiced rum, honey infused London dry gin, English raspberry and honey gin and English apple and honey vodka. For those in favour of a craft beer Hiver was on offer. We also sipped vodka and gin cocktails made of Oxford-based artisan distillery TOAD. They served Oxford dry gin, Oxford rye vodka, Oxford botanic gardens physic gin and the unmistakeable Ashmolean dry gin with great effect.

On a regular day you’d be able to enjoy classic cocktails such as Caïpirinha and Mojito starting from £7.50. Mocktail classics Virgin Mary or Virgin Mojito start at an entirely reasonable £3.50. The drinks menu is extensive with an exquisite list of gin, whisky, vodka and cognac ranging from £3.60 to £9.45 for 25ml. Similarly, the impressive list of red, white and sparkling wines can be enjoyed from £5.75 – £13.50 per glass.

Keepers Kitchen & Bar

What did we eat? An array of finger food was served at the opening. However, I was lucky enough to be able to order dinner after the event. As I was attending the event with fellow writers Onin London, The Curious Pixie and the wonderful Emma from Adventures of a London Kiwi we enjoyed a cosy dinner after the restaurant closed. Not only did we have the entire restaurant to ourselves but were also able to taste each other’s food. It was a good way to try as many dishes as possible. We ate Linguine Carbonara (£12.50), Penne al’Arabbiata (£11.50), Baked Camembert with Keepers honey (£12.95) and a Loaded Mediterranean Vegetable Panini (£10). We were all in agreement that the dishes were fresh and delicious.

I must add that I had the most sound night of sleep overnight at Mercure Hotel, Oxford. I was comforted by the view of the breathtakingly beautiful Magdalen Tower from my window and the cosy low ceiling and wooden panels of my room. Perhaps because the hotel itself was once a coaching-inn, which has always served as a resting place for weary travellers, I drifted off to sleep with ease. As I gently woke up I was surprised at how restful my night of sleep had been.

After such a refreshing sleep and an English breakfast we all headed off to explore a little more of Oxford. I love Oxford because it’s a romantic place where the streets are not paved with gold but with something far better; the footsteps of literary scholars who gave the world Alice in Wonderland, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. At every corner there are reminders of the great minds that walked its streets and called it home. And for ever-moving transients, such as myself who come to marvel at the city, there will always be room at the inn. They will find a home at Keepers Kitchen and Bar.

For more information on Keepers Kitchen and Bar visit:

For Mercure Hotel visit: www.

Addison Lee joins Girl Travels World and Coconut Tree, Oxford for a truly Sri Lankan supper club



It’s only Wednesday and already this has been an exciting week; England is through to the quarter finals of the Football World Cup, the count down to London Pride has begun and my first ever supper club takes place in Oxford tomorrow evening. I have collaborated with the independent Sri Lankan restaurant chain The Coconut Tree to present a delightful evening of Sri Lankan food. To top off this grand news I can now announce that the world’s largest managed premium car service Addison Lee will provide all the transport for my event. So this will indeed be a truly relaxing Sri Lankan evening. It’s such exciting news that I wonder if weeks to follow might ever live up to this.

Girl Travels World

I was born in Sri Lanka and spent a part of my childhood there. It’s a deeply ingrained part of my being. Growing up on an island means you adopt basic survival skills early on. For example, you learn quickly that fruit only grows in-season and you must enjoy it now or wait a whole year. So when it came to food I developed my five senses naturally. Now, later in life, it serves me well in my path as a food and travel writer. I know that naturally good produce takes time and patience to grow. I honour that fish is caught by men in boats who go out to sea before dawn and also that anything cooked with love tastes infinitely better.

The Coconut Tree

The evolution of The Coconut Tree restaurant is a similar one. It starts with five Sri Lankan boys (Rashinthe, Mithra, Praveen, Dan and Shamil) living in London relocating to Cheltenham. They needed somewhere to live and found a place above a vacant English pub. Very quickly they recognised the potential of their new home. As such, each evening after their day jobs, they began shaping what would later become an award-winning chain of relaxed-dining Sri Lankan restaurants. Tried and tested family recipes from Sri Lanka were adopted, hand-made furniture was shipped over and a range of botanical cocktails were developed to create the warm hospitality typical of a Sri Lankan home. Just like that, the very first Coconut Tree restaurant was born. A second site in Oxford soon followed with a third due to open in Bristol later this year.

Addison Lee

Addison Lee car.jpg

The best news of all however, is that Addison Lee , the world’s largest managed premium car service, will provide all the transport for the event. I needed to find a way to transport a group of London-based journalists to Oxford and was delighted when Addison Lee stepped in to help. If you want to book your journey with them just as easily you can download their free easy to use app and enter promo code HELLO10 and enjoy £10 off your first trip when you pay by card. How amazing is that?!


To use your promo code HELLO10 and enjoy £10 off your first journey via the Addison Lee app visit:  Please note: £10 off first app bookings only when paying by card. £10 minimum fare. Valid only on passenger cars and all vehicle types in London within M25. This code may only be redeemed once and cannot to be used in conjunction with any other offer. Visit for more info.

For more information on The Coconut Tree restaurants visit: