Hotel Review: Vanbrugh House Hotel, Oxford in Oxfordshire
They don’t call it the “city of dreaming spires” for nothing. Oxford’s historic, honey-coloured architecture is beautiful, and its location just an hour from London makes it the perfect proposition for a romantic weekend away. The grand college buildings of its elite university all seem to have leapt straight off the pages of a Harry Potter book, drawing visitors from every corner of the world to its quaint streets.
Vanbrugh House, on St. Michael’s Street, is situated right at the heart of the city centre. The world famous Ashmolean Museum, Bodleian Library and Science Museum are all just a few minutes walk away. At the latter of these you can see the chalkboard that Albert Einstein used to deliver his lecture on the theory of relativity, with his scrawled formula still preserved intact. You’ll need to look hard to find the hotel itself. It is hidden among a row of charming 17th century residential town houses, its true identity revealed only by smart brass plaque, on a quiet street linking two of Oxford’s main shopping and entertainment streets. It’s ideally placed for exploring the multitude of restaurants and pubs which keep the university’s students and staff alike fed and watered.
On entering through the discreet doorway, the reception/lobby is more like the drawing room of a welcoming country house than a hotel. Courteous staff instantly make you feel welcome and take you to one of the 22 lavishly appointed guest rooms and suites. They are all decorated in one of three styles – Arts and Crafts, Georgian and Eclectic – and each is named after one of Oxford’s famous places, architects, thinkers or writers. The Vicarage Suite and Nicholas Hawksmoor Room offer truly luxury accommodation and enjoy the use of their own private terrace.
Mine, the generously sized Trellis Room, is contemporarily decorated in muted shades of grey which contrast with the exposed wooden beams. There is a flatscreen TV at the end of the sumptuously upholstered bed, ideal for a cosy night watching re-runs of Oxford-set ‘Inspector Morse’. There is free Wi-Fi and a media hub on the bedside table for streaming music from your laptop, tablet or smartphone. Room service is available 24/7 and, thoughtfully, the in-room fridge comes stocked with complimentary milk, mineral water and soft drinks. There’s also a kettle with coffee as well as Moonpigs teabags and herbal infusions on the dresser. If retail therapy is on the agenda for your stay, then you’ll appreciate the 10% off ‘ViP’ pass for Bicester Village shopping centre which comes as part of the welcome pack.
Bathrooms at Vanbrugh House are a spa-style treat. Each room has a restorative rainfall shower room and toiletries from The White Company. Some of the suite options feature dual baths which face other, perfect for couples to enjoy an evening of decadent mutual pampering!
From small independents, through international chains, up to grand fine dining establishments, Oxford has it all when it comes to restaurants and most of them are within walking distance. The hotel itself also serves British classics in its downstairs dining room. The two-course set lunch menu is excellent value at £10.95. Starters include ham hock terrine with pickled cauliflower on sourdough toast and smoked salmon and feta cheese croquettes with mustard aioli. For mains, choose from slow cooked pork shoulder, pan fried haddock with Oxford blue cheese sauce, mushroom risotto or grilled halloumi salad. The breakfasts here are excellent too with a good choice of continental and cooked options. Not having a hearty enough appetite for the “full Oxfordshire”, I was highly satisfied with my Eggs Benedict, served with a copious helping of creamy Hollandaise sauce. There is a patio terrace just outside the dining room for smokers or those wishing to enjoy their breakfast in the morning sunshine.
Vanbrugh House Hotel is just a ten minute walk from Oxford’s main railway station but, if you decide to drive there, a word of advice about car-parking: leave it outside town! Overnight parking in the centre will cost you around £35 whereas 24 hours at the Seacourt Park & Ride, just a five minute bus ride away, will only cost you £2.20. It will also save you the headache of navigating Oxford’s maze of tiny streets, allowing you to concentrate all your attention on enjoying the fine hospitality of this charming boutique hotel.
Rooms at Vanbrugh House Hotel start from £175/night B&B
Spring offer: 20% off your stay with Vanbrugh House Hotel
Book a last-minute break in Oxford and save 20% off your stay until 30th April
Call 01865 244 622 or visit vanbrughhousehotel.co.uk
Vanbrugh House Hotel, 20-24 St Michael’s Street, Oxford OX1 2EB