There’s a lot of great countryside around the Chiltern counties, some attractive towns, but pretty slim pickings for pubgoers. From Watford to Luton to Bicester, there’s very few urban pubs in the Beer Guide at all, let alone characterful classics.

We stopped at Bicester for a coffee. It might have been a beer, but nothing inspired us, even in the rather plain Spoons Post Office conversion where we spent our £1.10. Bicester had three entries in the 2015 Guide; none survived to the current edition.

The most interesting looking place (below) unfortunately turned out to be evening opening only.  It would make an ideal micropub, tucked into the shopping arcade in Victoria Court.

Bicester at its classiest

Reviews of G’s suggest we missed out on a classic;

“Bin to G’s a couple of times and it is small and dingy, full of fat drunk women in tight clothing and leching drunk guys who are attracted to that sort of thing … need I say more.”

Bicester occasionally looks smart, though the oldest looking pub on Church Street has long been converted to one of several pizzerias.


The main area around the Market Place and pedestrianised Sheep Street look very old-fashioned if you’ve just come from Oxford, or even Leighton Buzzard, though the clutch of buildings above remain impressive.

The one thing Bicester does have is shops. Pioneer Square is the new development with all you will ever need, as long as it’s Peri Peri chicken, phones or coffee.  Nowhere I could buy the Radiohead record, even if I wanted to.

Amazingly, folk flock to Bicester in their thousands to buy unnecessary “stuff” from the shopping outlet Village.  Even my parents have been there. Once you’ve bought your Burberry you can dine in one of the many local gastropubs;

Serves real ales

Bicester may lack great pubs, but it does have the best choice of chain pubs of any comparable town I’ve ever seen. Wetherspoons, Stonegate (ex-Yates), Hungry Horse, Brewers Fayre, Marstons, Spirit, G’s Bar – they’re all there.

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