As you may have noticed, Oxford has many colleges. Most of them also have bars. Some are good, others not so much. Of course, in Freshers’ Week you will have an obligatory tour (and hopefully a free drink) at yours.
After Freshers’ Week, people are burned out, sick of everyone from their college and thinking they should have just applied to UCL, because everyone around them seems to be a bit of a freak and they hate their tutor and their course and so on. Time for a college escape. Unfortunately, the more obvious choices of college bars (Balliol, Hilda’s, Keble) will be full of people you know. And anyway, it’s good to get out and explore Oxford a bit.
Peter’s Cross Keys bar is an unusual choice for a fresher, but it is well known
and often called the best bar in Oxford. If you don’t mind having to sit around outside trying to get someone to let you in, then come to Peter’s bar and you’ll feel like you’ve died and gone to Heaven. Getting in to St Peter’s is a pain, so you either need to make friends with the porters, or wait for ages outside the doors.
Once you’re in, you also won’t be particularly amazed by the architecture: there are a couple of nice buildings, but like many other colleges, the entryway to the bar looks a little like Le Corbusier decided to build a pool house.
The bar itself, however, is classic Oxford with wood-panelled walls and hanging blades. The warm leather sofas are also a nice touch and it is toasty during the winter. What’s more, Peter’s students seem to be fairly loyal to their bar. I never seem to see them anywhere else and it is very full. Unfortunately the bar staff are a little gruff, but I suppose I would be too, if I had to deal with hordes of Oxford students on a daily basis.
The prices are still pretty good (despite the recent rise) and I like that you can buy draught beer. Add to that the Cross Keys drink, which tastes horrible but gets you drunk pretty quickly, and the selection is impressive. I also enjoyed the dartboard, and the fact that you can smoke on the college grounds.
But, as with many of my relationships, the thing that initially attracted me is
what eventually repelled. After a while, I was too hot, it was taking forever to get a drink, and I was sick of listening to people bullshit about their rowing prowess. The only thing I hate more than a humblebrag is a humblebrag about sport. Aside from this, Peter’s geography is a plus, as most Oxford clubs are nearby. As a place to escape, it’s wonderful and does everything it says on the tin, but it was too crowded, and too hot. All in all, this is a pretty good bar but I’m not sure if the trek and the fact that I had to wait around in the cold is worth it. Maybe I just expected more from the hype.