The Covered Market


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The Covered Market: Oxford's most enchanting shopping centre!

Published by Madeline Gowers — one year ago

The Covered Market is one of Oxford’s most popular tourist attractions. Established in the eighteenth century, and home to dozens of boutiques and cafés, it’s loved by shopaholics and foodies alike, not to mention architecture enthusiasts, who come to admire its distinctive pink ceilings and timber roof trusses.

You won’t have any problem finding the place – it’s located just off the central High Street – so whether you’re looking to get a bit of retail therapy in, or just fancy getting lost in the maze of alleyways which make up the market, keep reading to discover all the stalls and areas that you should be checking out during your visit!

The Covered Market: Oxford's most enchanting shopping centre!

Shops

Most tourists, when they first arrive in Oxford will make a beeline for the chain stores in the Westgate shopping centre. Only the more adventurous few will start, instead, with the quirky establishments that make up the Covered Market. These people will not only be helping support the growth of local businesses, rather than that of already thriving companies; they’ll also end up with more distinctive, better quality, and often more affordable products.

It’s fun to let your feet guide you when you first visit this place, but below are a few of my top recommendations, just in case you need a bit of inspiration to get you started.

The Garden

Looking for plants that are cheap, vibrant, and regionally grown? Pop along to The Garden – a florist so well-stocked that they’ve had to extend into the passageways surrounding the shop! – and browse the many shrubs, bouquets, and cuttings on offer. Make sure also to pick yourself up a couple of their vases and terracotta plant pots: most are pretty inexpensive, and they’ll add even more colour to your garden or living space.

Good news: Card payments are accepted here (as well as cash) so no need to get any money out!

The Covered Market: Oxford's most enchanting shopping centre!

The Oxford Soap Company

The Oxford Soap Company, with its striking shop front (see photo below), is pretty difficult to miss. Head inside to find delicious-smelling, handmade products of all kinds, from your standards soaps and body butters, to your more elaborate bath and shaving gift sets. Make sure also to stop and admire the boutique’s open workshop, where you can watch some of these items being made!

Looking for bargains? Some gifts here are a bit more on the pricey side, but most of the smaller items cost a tenner or less.

The Covered Market: Oxford's most enchanting shopping centre!

Next to Nothing

Looking to spice up your wardrobe or find novelty gifts for your friends and family back home? Don’t miss Next to Nothing, a hilarious shop selling all sorts of unique garments and accessories. The printed bags and pashmina shawls in here will delight even the fussiest of your female (or male – let’s not discriminate) loved ones, while the slogan T-shirts will have everyone in the room in fits of giggles.

And the cherry on top? The staff in here are super friendly, and always happy to give you advice on your purchases!

The Covered Market: Oxford's most enchanting shopping centre!

East 2 West

Wishing you were still on your ‘gap yah’, or just keen to get your hands on some oriental garbs and jewellery pieces? Have a browse of East 2 West, where you’ll find items that will add a gorgeous pop of colour to any outfit! Be sure also to look out for the many attractive homeware items on offer here – ornaments, dreamcatchers, tapestries: you name it, they have it!

On a budget? Most items here are very reasonably priced, so you’ll be sure to find plenty of great bargains!

The Covered Market: Oxford's most enchanting shopping centre!

The Indie Oxford Market Place

I actually only discovered The Indie Oxford Market Place a few days ago, but I’ve already fallen in love with the place! With products from over twenty local businesses lining the shelves and tables in here, you’ll have a whole range of homeware, food, and stationery items to choose from, none of which you’d find in any of the regular high street shops. Even better: if you make any purchases, you’ll be giving back to the community!

Warning: much to my dismay, The Indie Oxford Market Place will only be in the Covered Market until the end of this calendar year, so make sure you get down there before it’s too late!

The Covered Market: Oxford's most enchanting shopping centre!

Food

I almost always get peckish while shopping. Perhaps my stomach is conspiring against my bank account, or perhaps my body as a whole is just not used to doing that much exercise… (Joking – I promise I do get out of the house on a regular basis! ) Either way, I’ve had the chance to check out some of the food establishments that the Covered Market has to offer, and I certainly haven’t been disappointed!

Ben’s Cookies

If you’ve read my article about London’s best markets, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of the Ben’s Cookies stall in Covent Garden. Imagine my delight, then, when I discovered that they also had a branch in Oxford! If gooey, homemade sweet treats are your cup of tea, you’ll love this place, too. Struggling to decide which flavours to go for? My personal favourites are: triple chocolate chunk, orange and milk chocolate chunk, and oatmeal and raisin!

Top tip: these cookies are so good that you’ll want a souvenir to remember them by! Be sure, then, to get your hands on one of the company’s iconic red biscuit tins – my mum still has one in her kitchen from years ago!

The Covered Market: Oxford's most enchanting shopping centre!

Pieminister

In the mood for some classic British food? Treat yourself to a meal from Pieminister, an award-winning shop, selling very reasonably priced pies with a quite the selection of fillings. I can’t say that I’ve been here more than once, but given the deliciousness of the Heidi pie that I ordered last time, I know I’ll be back again before graduating! Beware that there aren’t an awful lot of tables in this place, so it’s best to come here on the early side (or a bit later on in the afternoon).

Not got much time to spare? Pieminister does takeaway meals, and their food can even be ordered on Deliveroo!

The Covered Market: Oxford's most enchanting shopping centre!

Taylors

It would be a sin to visit Oxford without checking out the wonderful Taylors delicatessen. Split across six different locations – one of which is, of course, the Covered Market – it’s the perfect place to go for a coffee, a sandwich lunch, or a mid-afternoon snack. Pop along and treat yourself to anything from a generously filled baguette, to a colourful salad, to a pastry that’s fresh out of the oven!

Heads-up: I don't drink coffee, but my friends have informed me that Taylors does a superior 99p brew!

The Covered Market: Oxford's most enchanting shopping centre!

Other great options

I’m also a huge fan of Georgina’s Café, and the Moo-Moo’s milkshake bar, but I’ve already written about them in the ‘Coffee shops’ section of my second most recent article. I won’t repeat myself, then, but if you want to know more about these two places, here’s the link to that post!

The Covered Market: Oxford's most enchanting shopping centre!

Look out for…

It’s not just the shops and cafés that make the Covered Market special. The decor of the place is also something to write home about! Featuring everything from tasteful bunting, to huge Alice-in-Wonderland-inspired paper lanterns, these alleyways will be a delight to your eyes, and will give you all the selfie backgrounds you need. Just make sure you come back in Christmas, to see the whole place covered in festive decorations!

The Covered Market: Oxford's most enchanting shopping centre!

Golden Cross Shopping Centre

If your inner shopaholic still hasn’t been satisfied, why not have a quick poke around the Golden Cross Shopping Centre, which leads off the Covered Market? Here, you’ll find bubble tea bars and acupuncture clinics, as well as one of Britain’s most aesthetically pleasing Pizza Express restaurants! Only after you’ve followed this pathway round do I give you permission to visit the Westgate

The Covered Market: Oxford's most enchanting shopping centre!

Shop till you drop!

So there we have it: everything you need to know about Oxford’s famous Covered Market. Be sure to check this place out next time you’re in the city, and don’t forget to bring me back a Moo-Moo’s Red Devil smoothie!

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