Living in London is - for the most part - everything I could want. The energy, the pace of life, the fact I can cycle anywhere and everywhere, the busy streets, the green parks, the 24-hour buzz, the instancy, I bloody love it. That said, when you choose to take life at 100 miles an hour, in London, especially, there can be little down time, so a weekend away from it all can be the ultimate reset button. After an incredibly busy few weeks, an invite to the country from Paper Plane Travel couldn’t have come at a better time. They are a recently launched independent travel operator who organise everything from your transport to your hotels, taxis, dinner reservations, the works, taking all the stress and thinking out of going away. Now doesn’t that sound bliss?
Paper Plane Travel were whisking me and my two oldest girl friends off to Oxfordshire for the weekend, to stay at Artist Residence — one of my fave boutique hotel groups and this particular one the one I’ve had my eye on for a while…
We got our train tickets in the post and our itineraries in our inboxes a week before we travelled, which involved lots of eating and a gin tasting. Yay!
Oxford is just a 2 hour train ride from London Paddington or Marylebone stations. Chloe and I arrived at Oxford Station, where Shel was waiting for us, having travelled simultaneously down from Manchester and arrived just 15 minutes before us - good planning Paper Plane Travel!
Lunch time! Our taxi was outside, waiting to take us to The Old Parsonage for lunch — a gorgeous pub with rooms that had a lovely atmosphere, bustling with locals. Luckily, our table was pre-booked and a spread of deliciousness arrived — risotto, crab and avocado salad, burrata, the works! We had such a lovely time chatting and catching up over the food and a delicious bottle of vino, and then it was time to check in. So off we went back in a taxi to Artist Residence — just 15 minutes out of the city.
As the team prepared our keys and checked us in, we were offered welcome drinks — so fizz by the fire it was. Bliss!
What a hotel! With just 5 rooms above the restaurant-come-pub, Artist Residence Oxford is super intimate — more like being at someone’s sumptuous home for the weekend, rather than at a hotel. We had two beautiful bedrooms between the three of us — both full of character and country-chic charm, plus the most gorgeous roll top bath tubs. My room, one of the two Farmhouse Suites, had a gorgeous vaulted ceiling and looked out over the chickens in the garden!
We gobbled up the delicious home-baked cookies that had been left as treats in our rooms...
…then it was time for our Four Pillars Gin tasting — an experience session Paper Plane Travel had kindly set up for us. Four Pillars is a small Australian distillery based in Melbourne that was only established in 2013 but is making major waves internationally and has already won a whole host of awards. I’m a big fan and actually do already have a couple of bottles at home, but it was amazing to learn so much more about the processes, try the different gins (including the delicious Bloody Shiraz Gin!), and generally just have a giggle and chat with Joe, the fantastic UK Four Pillars ambassador.
A couple of G&Ts later, we revelled in a little down time by the fire and caught up on a little work before we sat down for dinner. Mr Hanbury’s Arms is the hotel’s fabulous restaurant-pub, and our dinner was absolutely spot on.
After dinner, we huddled in one room and raided Chloe’s beauty supplies, trying out all sorts of weird and wonderful lotions, potions and face masks — because what girly sleepover is complete without face masks!? Then it was bed time, and I was out like a light, as soon as my head hit the pillow!
Eggs and soldiers (plus the extras of a Full English ‘cos I was being greedy!) got Sunday off to a great start.
We had an hour or so to kick back by the fire and read the papers before our taxi picked us up for the station (boo). But before we knew it, a swift train journey back to London, and we were all home feeling rested and refreshed. Ahh! Such a blissful weekend out of the city, with precisely zero stresses, thanks to Paper Plane Travel. If only all my trips were that easy...
— Paper Plane Travel is an independent tailor-made travel agency who are experts and well-versed in organising trips big and small — from weekend breaks to long-haul hols, villa stays, weddings, honeymoons and more.
We were kindly hosted by Paper Plane Travel and Artist Residence for our perfect weekend away.