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I would like to visit Oxford (UK) and stay in a college. Many (most?) Oxford colleges offer B&B accommodation out of term-time, sometimes in rooms with twin beds, but the ones I have looked at either don't mention children or have an 18+ policy. I am travelling with my partner and two children and don't mind getting two rooms.

Do any Oxford colleges allow children in their accommodation?

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    You might look at and ask this of UniversityRooms.com. The search function on that website accepts the entry of requests including the category of "children." Commented Feb 5, 2023 at 20:31
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    What is it about staying in a college that attracts you? I’ve done this once for a work conference, the facilities were pretty basic, akin to a Travelodge IMHO. Not at all ‘the dreaming spires’ one might imagine
    – Traveller
    Commented Feb 5, 2023 at 21:16
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    @user13190 Of course it is, July is peak summer season and Oxford is one of the most-visited places in the UK. Unless you absolutely need to be centrally located, my advice is look outside Oxford and use public transport to get around. Maybe try farm stays, or glamping
    – Traveller
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 8:44
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    @Traveller when I stayed in one (also for a conference) it wasn't even en-suite, so below Travelodge. But above some of the places I stay with friends at weekends Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 10:05
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    If you want cheap with a family, forget colleges and try a motel chain like Travelodge. Basic, but cheap and clean and good enough.
    – RedSonja
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 14:04

4 Answers 4

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I searched UniversityRooms.com with adult=1, children=1 for 28 March (a date out of term time but not in peak summer), and it turns out Exeter College has a 'Twin Set Ensuite' (two connecting single rooms), a 'Family Room' (sleeps 3, appears to be a double bed and a single bed in a connecting room), and a 'Standard Single x 4' (four single rooms on the same floor).

So they are available to tourists, if your dates align with availability.

It’s also worth mentioning these aren’t the same as facilities for student families. They are essentially just a collection of single adult rooms that happen to have connecting doors or be on the same floor (separated by a public corridor or landing). Often bathroom facilities are elsewhere, maybe even another floor. Whether that’s suitable depends on the age of your kids.

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I'm only familiar with my old college, King's in Cambridge. But patterns for Oxford and Cambridge are usually similar for most things.

When universities rent rooms it is usually their existing undergraduate student accommodation. This means it is available only outside of term time. Student accommodation is intended for single adults. There will mostly be one single bed ("twin" if you are North American). There will not be televisions or facilities like hotel rooms, although there will probably be a desk and a chair (since students have to work). There won't be "interconnected" rooms. There won't be room service of any kind. Breakfast will be canteen-style with the students. Be aware that you will be paying over the average price for the facilities you get.

Because of the style of rooms children will be difficult to accommodate. Even couples will find less accommodation than single people. Children are going to need to be at least old enough to sleep in their own self-contained apartment.

I did discover some exceptions by searching universityrooms.com (link above). The main one is Wycliffe College, which is a theological college in the north of Oxford. Its students are more likely to be married and have children than the typical undergraduate, and so it probably has a few family rooms for students.

You can do more searches to find alternatives. Colleges that work outside the usual pattern are more likely to have family style rooms.

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    Student rooms which are available to rent during the vacations are typically because single students go back to stay with their parents in those times. Students with children tend not to move somewhere else for a month or two before they come back, because that would be a big pain and very disruptive for the children. Thus family accommodation tends to be occupied all year. The only potential gap is in the summer, from one family graduating to the next arriving - but these are likely to be few. Commented Feb 5, 2023 at 21:37
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    @user1908704 In fact, undergraduates at Oxford are required to move out of university accommodation between each of the three terms, with very limited exceptions made for those with a pressing reason to remain in college (e.g. an exam to sit; merely living abroad and the cost of three return trips a year was not generally sufficient). The income generated by using accommodation for conferences and this type of service is part of the reason.
    – dbmag9
    Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 13:56
  • It depends on the college. My own Cambridge college (Robinson) was built in the late 1970s with an eye on the conference trade, and does have many en-suite rooms and many pairs of interconnecting rooms sharing a bathroom. So it may be worth looking for a new college, or one with a new accommodation block, though that may not be the kind of ambience that the OP is looking for.
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 20:14
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Wolfson College has rooms/flats for families (because it's a graduate-only college, so has some students with partners/children). Might be worth checking that out.

(Note that Wolfson is a modern college + a bit outside of Oxford central, so it may not have quite the same "feel" as an older Oxford college.)

EDIT - The other graduate colleges may also have family accommodation, so you could try those too: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colleges_of_the_University_of_Oxford#Postgraduate_and_mature_colleges

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    Note that availability of accommodation for students is not the same as availability for tourists in vacations. Most colleges have some kind of accommodation for students with families (in limited quantity), but it tends to be occupied year-round and not available for tourists. Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 15:05
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If you have to get accommodation at a college, it might be tricky. Most folks I knew there who had kids didn't stay at a college. However, my partner and I lived at Castle Mill for two years and there are plenty of children that live there. It's graduate accommodations, and about 10 minutes walk from Corn Market.

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  • Is such accommodation available for tourists, or just for students? Commented Feb 8, 2023 at 14:01

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