10 September 2020/ Area guides

Office leasing guide: Oxford

Offices to rent in Oxford

Oxford is a picturesque city in southern England. Home to one of the world’s most prestigious and oldest academic institutions, Oxford University, and modern Oxford Brookes University, there’s a rich pool of exceptional talent to pick from here. Prominent businesses in the worlds of science, technology and engineering are based in Oxford because of this.

While academia is a prominent part of the city’s identity, there are plenty of other great things to celebrate about Oxford. It’s just under an hour by train from London, and within two hours of other key locations such as Birmingham, Coventry, Bristol, Cardiff and Cambridge. And when you’re not working there are miles of picturesque streets to explore, whether you choose to stroll along the rivers or admire the historic architecture across the city.

Historically, Oxford was the site of many battles between the 10th and 13th centuries. After it was granted a charter by Henry II, many important religious houses were built, including the sites of Oxford University’s earliest colleges. In the 19th and 20th centuries, many industries boomed, including printing and automotive, and BMW Mini’s large manufacturing plant still stands in Cowley.

Want to find out more about leasing an office in Oxford? Here’s everything you need to know.

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Key business areas in and around Oxford

Many of Oxford’s prime office space is found in the centre of the city, particularly around the Jericho and Park Town areas. The city is relatively small, so its centre has become a hive of activity for businesses in a number of sectors. Naturally, the education sector is one of the biggest, making office premises close to central Oxford highly sought after for those in the industry.

Cowley is where you’ll find many of Oxford’s technical and scientific residents. In addition to the BMW Mini manufacturing plant, you’ll find the Oxford Science Park, which is home to companies including Sharp Devices Europe GmbH and Proimmune. In the other direction, you’ll find Begbroke Science Park, which is also a notable location for companies specialising in research and development, engineering and specialist manufacturing.

Though it’s around 25 minutes’ drive south of the city, Abingdon is also a key business area close to Oxford. Its Milton Park office complex is home to important companies across a range of sectors, including supply chain management, pharmaceuticals, scientific research and much more. Compromising on a central location will mean you get to rub shoulders with some industry giants here.

Getting around Oxford

Oxford is surrounded by a good network of roads

While central Oxford is best suited to public transport or travel by foot, the city’s ring road is handy for travelling across the country. The M40 is around 20 minutes’ drive from the centre of Oxford, which can easily take you south towards London and the South East or north towards Coventry and Birmingham.

Bus services run regularly across Oxford

They’re operated by the Oxford Bus Company and travel to many destinations across the city. The main bus station is at Gloucester Green, less than 10 minutes’ walk from the main rail station.

There are two train stations in Oxford

Oxford’s central station is close to Botley Park and gives you easy access to the retail and education hubs in the centre of the city. Oxford Parkway station is close to Oxford Airport and is convenient for people living and working in the city’s northern suburbs.

Cycling is a popular mode of transport in Oxford

As the city is mostly flat, travelling by bike is a great option. Oxford has the second-highest number of commuters on two wheels in the UK, so its streets are very bike-friendly and easy to navigate.

Oxford has ride-sharing services like Zipcar

If you need a car occasionally, you can take advantage of services like Zipcar. You can hire a car based on your needs (if you need space to transport equipment to an event or to ferry your colleagues to a meeting for example) and you only keep it for as long as needed.

Business amenities

Oxford has hotels ideal for business meetings and stays

There are plenty of hotels close to the centre of Oxford. Most are independent hotels or B&Bs, including Bath Place Hotel located opposite the famous Bodleian Library, Head of the River (with excellent river views as its name suggests) and The Osney Arms, just a short walk from the train station. You will also find familiar hotels such as Mercure, Travelodge Oxford, voco Oxford Spires and Premier Inn Oxford Cowley around the city.

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You’ll find plenty of excellent restaurants in Oxford

Whether you’re welcoming clients for lunch or taking the team out for dinner, there are lots of tempting places to eat in Oxford. Unfussy yet smart bistro Quod Restaurant & Bar has been welcoming guests since 1988, but still offers some of the city’s best bites. If you’re in the mood for exotic tastes, Oli’s Thai is a must-visit – book ahead as it gets incredibly busy. And if you fancy a delicious lunch with a side of philanthropy, Turl Street Kitchen serves British dishes and invests its profits into a local charity.

There are also plenty of great places for coffee meetings in Oxford. The Missing Bean has a laidback atmosphere and tasty snacks and Jericho Coffee Roasters serves specialist blends for the coffee connoisseur. Seeking something with a bit more flair? The Grand Café (tearoom by day, a cocktail bar by night) was said to be England’s first coffee house and retains its historic charm to this day.

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Oxford’s meeting spaces are ideal for events and discussions

Old Parsonage Hotel has stood since the 17th century and is full of historic charm. It’s a great place to host intimate events and dinners for clients or your team. Alternatively, Unipart House is ideal for all kinds of occasions, whether you’re hosting a small meeting or welcoming up to 200 for an event. Its 10 conference rooms and a lecture theatre can adapt to virtually any occasion.

The King’s Centre in the heart of the city can also accommodate up to 100 people and has plenty of parking, making it a great choice if people are travelling in from across the country. And if you’re seeking peace and quiet or a beautiful setting, The Oxfordshire Hotel has nine conference rooms ideal for up to 190 guests.

Offices, serviced offices and co-working spaces to rent in Oxford

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There’s lots to do in the evening in Oxford

As you’d expect in a city so popular with students, there are plenty of places to let your hair down in Oxford. The Eagle and Child Pub was once frequented by Tolkien and CS Lewis, among other literary giants, while The Bear Inn claims to be Oxford’s oldest surviving pub (dating back to 1242). Or, pick a more sophisticated watering hole, like Angel’s Cocktail Bar, retro Raouls or The Varsity Club.

If that’s not your cup of tea, you can take a lunchtime or early evening stroll through the Botanic Gardens, home to more than 6,000 types of plants, or admire the fascinating exhibits (including shrunken heads) at the Pitt Rivers Museum. There are also a number of cinemas across Oxford, like The Ultimate Picture Palace. and theatres including the Oxford Playhouse, The Sheldonian and O’Reilly Theatre. You can catch the latest release or a contemporary show, depending on your mood.

Oxford has plenty of handy amenities

Retail lovers will find plenty to keep them busy here. From Broad Street’s bookstores to the high street haven of Westgate shopping centre, which is home to many familiar high street brands, there’s something for everyone. Just off Cornmarket Street (a shopping destination in its own right), you’ll find the historic Covered Market, which has been open since 1774. You can pick up groceries, locally sourced meat, gifts and even stop for a coffee and sandwich as you wander through.

If you like to keep fit, there are gyms across the city. Budget-conscious fitness fans can visit places like PureGym and Anytime Fitness, while there are David Lloyd and Nuffield Health clubs at the other end of the price spectrum. You can also take your pick from plenty of independent gyms and fitness facilities across Oxford.

Notable office tenants in Oxford

  • Harley Davidson
  • Oxford University Press
  • Hartwell Motor Group
  • Taylor & Francis Group
  • Achilles

Key agents

  • Cluttons LLP
  • Carter Jonas LLP
  • NJ Commercial Ltd
  • Savills
  • Lambert Smith Hampton

Interesting facts about Oxford

Oxford was largely spared from German bombing in WWII, as Hitler reportedly wanted to use the city as his capital if he successfully invaded England.

Poet Matthew Arnold coined the nickname of the City of Dreaming Spires back in the 1800s. His poem, ‘Thyrsis’, celebrated Oxford’s beautiful architecture.

The four-minute mile was conquered in Oxford by Roger Bannister. The Oxford University medical student set the record at the city’s Iffley Road track.

Christ Church College’s Great Hall was used as the inspiration for the dining hall at Hogwarts, and its staircases feature in a number of the films’ scenes.

Oxford University didn’t award women degrees until 1878, and the last of its all-male colleges didn’t open their doors to women until 1974.