Saira Khan’s favourite places
The Loose Women livewire is a local lass (God, I love alliteration). Here's where you'll find her hanging out in our 'hood.
We love a loudmouth here at Muddy – hey, you should hear the screeching, hooting and bellowing that passes for polite conversation here at HQ. So we have a lot of time for the endlessly chatty and always outspoken Saira Khan. The 47-year-old Loose Women panellist shot to fame as the runner-up in the first series of The Apprentice in 2005 (how can that be 13 years ago?!). In addition to her lunchtime bantering with Coleen and co, she writes a weekly newspaper column and launched her organic skincare company Saira Skin in 2016 (we’re fans of her facial oil – see here). An Oxford resident since 2009, she lives with her husband Steve and their children, Zacariah, nine, and Amara, six. So, where are you taking us, Saira?
My son loves it so much at Jacobs Inn he’s announced that his first job will be working as a waiter here. This is our local and you can’t beat it for a family roast dinner on a Sunday – it’s so good it’s like your mum cooked it, while the manager, Diamond Love (yes, her actual name), makes you feel very much at home. In the winter, it’s all lit up with fairy lights and roaring log fires and in the summer we hang out in the gorgeous quirky garden with its outdoor Chesterfield, goats, pigs and chickens. After lunch we walk across the bridge to Port Meadow for a stroll. I love this part of Oxford because it’s still fairly central but it feels like you’re in the middle of the countryside.
Vanilla, Summertown, Oxford (and two other shopping gems nearby)
Crazy Bear, Stadhampton
This restaurant-with-rooms is one of those sparkly, glam places that people mistakenly think you don’t get outside of London. But it’s also quirky, with the reception desk located in a red double-decker bus. I get fed up going to the same old boring branded hotels – places like this make me feel more energetic and creative. I visited yesterday for afternoon tea with my girlfriends. It was wonderfully luxurious and the service is good – they leave you alone to have a good gossip over the scones. And we had champagne, of course – no-brainer! I’m also a fan of The Crazy Bear in Beaconsfield for a romantic night out with my husband.
I adopted my daughter Amara from an orphanage in Karachi when she was 4 days old. I put her in my arms and just knew – we bonded immediately – so this place really resonates with me. The Foundling Hospital was founded by the philanthropist Thomas Coram in the 18th century to take care of babies at risk of abandonment. Now it’s a fantastic, moving museum that always makes me feel how lucky I am to have my family. Everyone tends to head to the Science or Natural History Museums but try this one next time you’re in London.
OK, it’s no secret hideaway but you can’t beat the original Ivy. It’s not showy-offy and the food is simple but well done. It has so much ambience but crucially is not too loud – as I get older, I really appreciate venues where you don’t have to scream at each other! The last time I was here was for [Loose Women colleague] Andrea McLean’s wedding reception in the member’s club upstairs. Us Loose Women girls are always the first ones of the dancefloor and this was no exception. I also like meeting my husband here for dinner. We have a ritual – we arrive 40 minutes ahead of our booking, sit at the bar (I love gazing at all the different bottles and glasses), order a cocktail or gin and tonic and catch up.
These woods, owned by the university, are quite magical. If you’ve got small children, it’s a great place for a runaround, tree climbing, birdspotting and bear hunts. My husband stumbled across Wytham while out cycling – it seems not that many people know about it. We often head here for fresh air and family time. The best things in life are always free, right? [Editor’s note: be aware you have to apply for a permit (which lasts three years) to walk here and no dogs are allowed.]
If I’m booked for Loose Women, I’ll often stay here the night before the show. The lobby (above) is strikingly designed, the service is excellent, it has a very luxurious feel and it’s right by the river so you have a lovely view across the water to St Pauls. Sometimes if we have an evening event, Coleen (Nolan, Loose Women colleague) will stay here too. We lie on the bed in our dressing gowns, make tea and stay up chatting until 3am. She always requests a room with a balcony so she can have a quick fag!
I came across this during a trip to Gifford’s Circus last year and clocked the shop and spa and thought, Oh my god, this is what I want heaven to look like. I love it all – the amazing deli counter, the outdoor pizza place, the beautiful tea shop (don’t miss the Victoria sponge) and the gorgeous tranquil spa that makes me feel like I’m in Bali. It’s expensive but worth saving up for to treat yourself or someone in your life who deserves a little slice of luxury.