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Head of the River, Oxford

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user reviews of the Head of the River, Oxford

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

Fullers pub with accommodation and food orientated so was expecting the worst when ordering a pint of Pride but quality was ok and price didn't seem too bad. Limited range of ales, seems to be more interested in craft keg and designer lager.
Scores on location.
ellisref - 7 Jun 2019 20:49
Popped in hear on 23rd and 24th July - very warm outside so a shady spot outside by the river was very pleasant.

Service at the bar was friendly and efficient and I had a pint of Olivers Island (both visits) and it went down a treat.

Didn't try the food but looked okay so far as I could say.

Amusing moment on my second late afternoon visit a group of around 30 young Japanese tourists arrived with their equally young British guides. Didn't look like the party hard warned the pub in advance and the staff looked a bit flummoxed as the party started to head to the bar one by one to get their drinks. I left at this point!

Good pub, enjoyed my brief visits.

on_the_brightside - 31 Jul 2018 18:32
Last visited this pub in circa 1984!! Hasn't changed a bit (except no longer has a fottball table!!). Prices are still through the roof and service is staill as bad. Bur the Fullers ESB was acceptable. Good location and beer garden looking over the river.
wolvesfan - 4 Aug 2014 10:09
Pitched up here at about half-five on a Sunday. There was a 'calm after the storm' feeling about the place. A smattering of people were dotted around the largish one-roomed, two-level bar: the Thames was lapping against the pub's foundation as the Abingdon Road had been closed due to the incessant rain and subsequent flooding at the time. Being a Fuller's pub, I opted for the Gale's Seafarer's Ale at the bizarre price of £3.59. However, it was well-kept and went down well. The flagstone floor was partially covered in places by large rugs, which broke up some of the cold starkness it can imbue. Rabbit pie was on the menu at £13.50. Be interesting to revisit in the summer to recompare tasting notes...
Komakino - 9 Feb 2014 20:56
We thought the rooms and bar were a bit on the dear side too. It's a pleasant enough location though.

We struck up an interesting and convivial chat with a few uni dons in the bar, but it didn't seem to have any particular character of note.

eddybeer - 11 Aug 2013 12:10
First visit here today and enjoyed it. Beer pricey but very good. Pat below should be on another website! Stay in a pub for 2 nights and not have a bevie? How was the linen on the bed darling? Get a life,no brown sauce indeed.HA! 6.5/10.
roselily - 5 Jul 2012 18:50

We spent 2 nights here, but didn't actually have a drink here, as the bar seemed to lack atmosphere.

The room was very overpriced at 95 per night. We enjoyed a nicer room in a much nicer hotel in Cambridge for 80 per night.

Only enough hot water for one of us to have a shower in the evening. Experienced the same problem the following morning.

No white bread / toast for breakfast ... not just once, but both mornings, which is inexcusable really. No brown sauce either.

You expect more for 95.

Pat_Bateman - 12 May 2011 15:44
Another example of rip-off Britain. Extortionate price for drinks. Never again. Told all of my friends to avoid
lampgb - 12 May 2011 15:17
There's usually a decent selection of ales, occasionally a very nice wheat beer. On balance, there are better value pubs very close by and you're just paying over the odds for the river view.
beerminx - 23 Jan 2011 18:35
This pub has an excellent location and, depending on the weather, the outdoor seating can get quite busy. The beers are well kept and pricing is commensurate with the prime location. There are periodic weekend barbecues (did not participate, but the odor of the grilling was fantastic), and one one evening we were visited by some local Morris Dancers. Worth a visit.
prm1177 - 14 Aug 2010 20:40
Bit of a tourist trap on a hot weekend in the summer so you could be waiting a while to get served and the beers aren't cheap but nor are they at rip-off prices. Staff were pleasant and the XB went down a treat after a long cycle ride along the Thames to get there though there was a lack of seating there as it was totally packed.
oxford_hasher - 29 Jul 2010 22:50
Fullers pub. Standard beers, rip-off prices. Except they can get away with charging them due to tourists paying for the location.
Friendly staff, which is always good, but there are much better pubs within walking distance - just not by the river.
duchyjim - 28 Jul 2010 12:52
As I took a photo of the pub sign for this place, a large bird pooed all over my jumper (it may have been three birds judging by the amount). I spent the next 15 minutes cleaning the poop off. On the way out I looked at the price list which made me laugh which was much-needed after the fly-by crapping.
Why anyone would these prices is beyond me.

The toilets were ok though.
oxfordbull - 3 May 2010 16:36
Have to agree with Pat Bateman on this one. Looks really nice on the Photos, but sadly as i was lying on my bed admiring the wooden beans, i was greeted with huge cobweds dangling above my head.

Breakfast was half cooked toast with an egg that turned up once the toast was cold to bisciut stage and the relaxing sound of an animal t.v show through the speakers, decribing a deer with a severed spine. Mmm, nice when dipping your cold toast into your egg.

They lady who greeted me was friendly enough and made me welcolme, but won't be going back.

Sorry nice lady!
mario_2 - 7 Apr 2010 11:48

We spent 2 nights here, but didn't actually have a drink here, as the bar seemed to lack atmosphere.

The room was very overpriced at 95 per night. We enjoyed a nicer room in a much nicer hotel in Cambridge for 80 per night.

Only enough hot water for one of us to have a shower in the evening. Experienced the same problem the following morning.

No white bread / toast for breakfast ... not just once, but both mornings, which is inexcusable really. No brown sauce either.

You expect more for 95.
Pat_Bateman - 7 Apr 2010 11:36
Very over priced run of the mill Fullers pub. All their pubs seem to folloe the same format of offering average service and goods at an inflated price.Not worth the walk to visit
beercritic - 6 Apr 2010 08:08
There is no parking on site. only try it if you feeling like doing the park and ride experience.
mc721221 - 15 Mar 2010 12:11
Yes - the drinks were expensive and not that great. But the staff were friendly and smiled a lot, and it had a nice relaxed atmoshere.
Mothroy - 6 Dec 2009 19:47
So, so expensive. Nice to have a Discovery by the water, but it comes at a cost.
plymouthpirate - 5 Dec 2009 12:47
Certainly a great location and good beer - very disappointing menu last week though! The steak sandwich was tasty enough, but I was hoping for sopmething a bit more imaginative. Always pleasant to sit outside.
Firedrake - 29 Sep 2009 16:30
Great location but Fullers are taking the piss with their pricing policy. There are so many other pubs in Oxford with better beer between 2.35 and 2.80. The only advantage is that it is so impersonal you can nip in for a quick pee on the way home without buying anything!!
JBGatelad - 6 Sep 2009 18:39

Great location, but don't they know it.

The make no effort. A bloody awful pub in a city of great pubs.

Avoid at all costs.
griffo59 - 14 Aug 2009 19:11
great location but what a rip off!!!!! never going back to this gaff unless there is a genuine change in pricing structure
rabc1963 - 25 Jun 2009 22:48
Oh and it cost me 3.15 for a pint!!!
doncaosdelanada - 12 Nov 2008 23:15
Beer ok. good selection if you like Fullers. Food poor pub quality. Arrived less than five minutes after ordered, via the microwave no doubt.
Had the misfortune to visit when Bobby George "famous" darts player was making a PA. Not the relaxation I needed after a 3 hour train journey after work.
doncaosdelanada - 12 Nov 2008 22:27
Location - tick
Ale range & quality - tick
Prices - mmm, no tick.

Fair enough place, could be a lot worse. Doubt it's much to crow about outside summer.

Full Fullers ale range plus HSB, served well.

Worth a stop on a sunny day, but not essential in OX1.
Quinno - 5 Aug 2008 17:34
Visited on Saturday - very nice pub in lovely setting and the ale was excellent.
King_Viv - 16 Jul 2008 20:40
Not a bad place to go - nice to sit by the river. Bar seemed a bit small though when taking account of the size of the place. Maybe I missed one....
pistolknight_ViVi - 16 Jul 2008 00:57
A decent pub, with a nice outdoors area, but with unnecessary anger if you try and move chairs between their tables!
rbiscuit - 25 Apr 2008 00:10
One of Oxford's best. Their Fullers beers are ideal summer thirst quenchers, there's a reasonable wine list and good [though not 'cheap'] down to earth food.
Lloydie419 - 19 Mar 2008 14:06
Lovely location and great beer, 9/10
fat_beer_badger - 6 Sep 2007 15:47
If this the pub I'm thinking of the view is awesome. I would have taken a picture had I had the opportunity. The atmosphere is generally quite chilled out and refreshing - it is hard to believe this place and the Old Tom are in the same city. The beer is, also, nice which helps. To be honest I will give this place 10 out of 10 simply because I can't think of anything bad about it.
Will2 - 27 May 2007 22:56
You can see why this place is quite popular, its a fullers pub for a start, and plenty of sitting places outside near the river which is the appeal in the nicer weather. Found the ESB to be in good shape
aleman - 20 May 2007 11:28
Well kept range of Fullers ales, nice to sit outside and watch the river go by
alewhale - 10 Apr 2007 10:07
Big old warehouse conversion. Great location - the beer garden spills right out onto the Thames. Little atmosphere, though. If you look carefully you can see the weird 'Satanic' carvings on the big red brick building on the other side of Folly Bridge.
Greshon - 9 Feb 2007 16:40
Spent a night here in October. The staff are brilliant. They made me feel right at home, were helpful and friendly.

As a pub - love the location on the river, staff were oustanding, solid pub grub and the Pride was in fine form. Had my first pint of HSB there. It was pleasantly busy the night I was there. It sounds like a victim of its own success on a warm summer day/night.
jorrocks - 2 Jan 2007 17:35
Sometimes a victim of its own success in Summer, with its prominent and picturesque location on the bridge, but there should be enough space if you look hard enough.
Granted, the Head's food and drink is over-priced, and could so easily be the sole preserve of the hooray henry set. It is well-heeled and accented towards the middle-class, but without undue pretense, and I find it as welcoming as the next pub in the city. It lacks the earthiness of some say, some of the Jericho offerings, and is certainly more suit 'n' boot than cap 'n' bicycle. But it is a sound city pub and the ale is exceptionally well-kept, which takes it a long way with the likes of me. The Discovery here is indeed superb and can't be beaten on said summer days.
Depending on one's mood of the time, and the weather, this is worth keeping in mind.
TWG - 30 Oct 2006 17:41
Overpriced, overrated and overpopulated.
thedts - 5 Sep 2006 01:56

It must have changed hands since I was last in there!

As dbc and anon are spot on with their comments.

MissBeverley - 15 Apr 2006 11:51
Stayed here this weekend with my girlfriend. Gorgeous room with a corner view of the river, low ceiling with beams. Lovely. Very friendly staff, the landlord and landlady (Carol) are very nice and clearly know exactly how to run a pub. Breakfast was good stuff but full English needed beans!

Fullers beers were predictably excellent. Had dinner here also, and that was good.

Not a cheap place - basically central London prices - but you get what you pay for.

I will be back in summer to spend another weekend here.
anonymous - 16 Jan 2006 11:43
These comments about management do not tally with my own experience. When I was in Oxford in an unexpected four day booze up session with my mate Nongo, we were without somewhere to stay. The landlady here was full, but let us leave our bags with her while we went heavily on the beers elsewhere (although we did have a fine pint of Discovery ale with her), and even lent us an umbrella as it was raining! She then sorted us out a really good room at a quality B&B up the Abingdon Road with a reduced rate to boot.

The pub itself is very busy, lovely on a summer's day. Haven't tried the food but with Fuller's beers on tap who cares?
anonymous - 16 Dec 2005 12:56
No problems with the staff but this place charges like a wounded rhino! Fifteen quid for two drinks, a sandwich and a bowl of soup. On the up side the beer was excellent but on the down side the soup looked like something Oliver Twist would have turned down. Unfortunately don't expect any changes as the location draws punters by the hundred.
REVERENDBAZ - 5 Sep 2005 09:39
Allegedly the most profitable pub in the Fuller's chain, yet the rudest bar managers in Oxford. Beer and food are over priced: a good pint costs 2.90 and the food is cr*p. Perfect setting for sadists!
anonymous - 22 Jun 2005 14:13
avoid - have never felt so unwelcome in a pub as in here. management have no concept of customer service, and a motley crew of 5 staff spent our 2 hours there (10 visitors having an early evening meal) muttering about us nder their breath and shooting us dirty looks. so bad it's not even funny.
dbc - 21 Apr 2005 21:19
Great location, shame about the management. Sitting snarling at the customers is no way to run a pub - their dog was more friendly. Probably why it was empty at 8pm on a Saturday night.
wjt - 14 Apr 2005 17:09
Rude staff and way overpriced. How could this pub get a higher rating than The Turf in town? Its a shame it has such a nice location, it would almost want to make you go there again if it wasn't for the comments above.
remchan - 11 Dec 2004 19:10
I like the outside seating of this pub it's fantastic in the summer. Staff could be improved.
Vickilou - 1 Dec 2004 07:30
I have found the managers of this pub to be rude, inconsiderate and down right nasty to customers.
Terry Jae - 18 Mar 2004 22:43
The Head of the River may allow children in but they hate rowers. If you are a rower and expecting to go there for a drink the next time you are out with your crew, be aware that you will be met with scowls!
Kross - 18 Mar 2004 00:49
Does anyone know if this pub allows children inside? They're fine outside (have eaten there with a 3y.o. and folks :-) ) but not sure about that.
Russell - 12 Feb 2004 18:48
There are few experiences more pleasurable than walking round Christ Church Meadow and along the River to the Head of the River, and sitting outside in the sun with a cold drink. The food is tasty if a little on the expensive side.

Only grouch is that this pub isn't so much fun inside, so it isn't worth the walk if the weather isn't good.
thegooddoctor - 11 Jan 2004 12:54
This pub is great! Maybe it's because I was on a weekend away, but it was the best afternoon of my life! OK, so it's not an incredibly original pub, but what do you expect?

What you get is good beer, friendly service, really tasty food - reasonably priced, I thought - sitting outside with a lovely view over the Thames. What mre could anyone want in life?
Roland Burton - 12 Jul 2003 12:01
This pub is one of the popular ones. A)because it was featured on Inspector Morse, and B)Because its right next to the river and has a nice view. The food is nice if a bit expensive for what it is, and the drinks are expensive too but in the summer what is better than sitting by the river watching the boats go by?
Lucy - 13 Jun 2003 11:06

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