A stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of London, Guildford offers a breath of fresh air. Surrounded by a blanket of scenic Surrey countryside and located about 45 minutes outside of the capital city, this picturesque town is home to several historical sights, a charming array of restaurants, and a great selection of shops. Located on the banks of the River Wey, this medieval honeypot has been given a contemporary refit.
We’re delighted to announce that we’ll be opening our new OKA store in Guildford on 15th March - our 15th store to open in the UK. Considering this exciting news, we thought it would be fitting to give you an insight into why we couldn’t have chosen a better place to open our newest store (and largest outside of London).
Here’s how to spend a weekend in Guildford.
As you disembark the train, you’re met with views of the neighbouring Surrey Hills and a footpath leading towards the Friary Shopping Centre. It’s another ten minutes to reach the high street. The White Lion Walk (a close connecting the two hubs) houses a couple of coffee shops, ideal if you need a pit stop.
About halfway up the cobbled high street, you can find the Tunsgate Quarter – a new development filled with modern restaurants, high-end bars and boutiques. Not to mention, it will be the home of our new OKA store. This high street is packed with quite a few interior and homeware shops, so it’s worth dropping by if you’re planning on redecorating. Besides, a trip to Guildford isn’t a trip to Guildford without a morning spent shopping. Further up, there’s a tourist information office and some beautiful ancient buildings; Abbot’s Hospital, punctuating the bustling street, is one of the oldest pieces of architecture planted in the town centre.
Guildford High Street
After shopping until you drop, it’s time to storm the castle, located five minutes from the high street. Clamber up the great tower located in this historic monument for a 360-degree panoramic view of the town and encircling countryside. Don’t forget to bring your camera (and perhaps an umbrella). If you need a break, rest your legs in the well-manicured grounds, which are worth a visit rain or shine. There just so happens to be a couple of handsome looking pubs framing either side of the castle entrances, perfect for a spot for lunch.
Nearby, the Guildford Museum sits tucked away along an old, meandering street. It’s free admission and is filled with relics that reveal more about the town’s history. If you walk down to the river then along the banks back towards the station, you’ll find the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. This 1960s-style Grade 2 listed building is used for exhibitions and presents a series of local and national productions. It overlooks the river and has a bar and restaurant, which is a nice bonus.
If you’d like to stay overnight, the Guildford Harbour Hotel is the town’s first four-star hotel boasting 183 bedrooms and within walking distance of the castle. There’s plenty of places to stay in the town centre or further afield, if you’ve travelled by car.
View of Guildford Cathedral & the surrounding neighbourhood
Guildford is a compact town that can pretty much be covered on foot; however, if you fancy a longer, relaxing stroll, make a beeline for the stunning Guildford Cathedral. Thirty minutes away from the mecca of shops and restaurants, this contemporary red-brick cathedral looms over the town and distant hills. Guided tours - suitable for all ages - can be booked in advance or on the day.
Head back into town and dip into one of the side street cafés for a bite to eat, then walk off your hearty lunch at Dapdune Wharf. The wharf consists of a 20-metre waterway which flows through the heart of Surrey. If you’ve travelled by car and fancy venturing a few miles out, we recommend a jaunt around Loseley Park. Situated in old Surrey parkland, it’s a great spot for fresh air and views of the North Downs. Take a break and have coffee at the tea rooms, following a bracing stroll.
Before heading home, spend dinner in one of Guildford’s selection of restaurants. There’s a good mix of chain and independent eateries dispersed around the town centre. Choose from tapas bars, old-school Italian restaurants and Thai haunts.
Come and join our opening celebrations from Thursday 15th to Sunday 18th March at OKA Guildford. If you like the sound of our weekend in Guildford, why not take a look at our guide to a short break in Bath.