Oxford is a town of two halves: a venerable university city, steeped in history and dominated by the honey-coloured buildings of its ancient colleges; and a regional industrial centre, home to one of the UK’s largest car plants, in Cowley. It’s an uneasy mix at times, and it would be true to say that the university has fared rather better in recent years than the car plant. But it’s this blend of ancient and modern that really defines Oxford, and lends it a down-to-earth edge that its great rival, Cambridge, sometimes lacks. There are stacks of things to see and do in the city, great pubs and places to eat, and it’s also the gateway to the Cotswolds, the Thames Path and some of Britain’s most enticing countryside – not to mention the close-by attraction of Blenheim Palace, one of the country’s most magnificent stately homes. Oxford hotels offer a huge variety, from the opportunity to sleep in a converted prison cell at Oxford Castle to snuggling up in one of many cosy B&Bs nestled away from the centre. There are a couple of boutique hotels but those looking for top-notch luxury should make for the five-star Randolph Hotel, complete with spa, while budget backpackers are catered for with a number of hostels. Lovers of the outdoors can venture out into the rich countryside beyond, while culture vultures can get a taste of the elite university lifestyle by staying in some of the top student accommodation out of term time.