Head to the Turf Tavern to see where Bill Clinton famously smoked pot but “didn’t inhale.”
As you would expect from a student town, Oxford has plenty of pubs. But it is unique in that its history is so full of zany characters and creative minds. As a result, many of its institutions - pubs included - have more personality than most. Every place serves a story with your pint.
Just off the High Street, the Bear Inn is a toasty little enclave. The current building dates back to the 1700s, but there has been an inn on the site since 1242. It’s a tiny place, about as cosy as they come with its open fire and wood-panelling. One decorative theme predominates: there are some 4,500 neck-ties covering all the walls and the ceiling. And if you’re wondering about the name: legend has it that an early landlord had a pet bear. Of course.
The Eagle & Child has one big accolade to its name: JRR Tolkien allegedly wrote bits of The Hobbit here. Or he at least mulled it over with a pint. The pub was used for the weekly meeting of a literary discussion group that involved Tolkien and CS Lewis, among others. There is a story that a young Tolkien once got himself so drunk here that he was hounded by hallucinations of goblins trying to steal his wedding ring… Inspiration comes from unlikely places, sometimes.
The Kings Arms, or simply the KA, is one of Oxford’s most popular pubs. It likes to claim that it has the highest IQ per square foot of any pub in the world — though more than anything that’s to do with just how packed it can get. For that reason it’s best for a mid-afternoon drink. And be sure to try the food.
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