The delightful Vanbrugh House Hotel is tucked away in a quiet side street in the heart of Oxford’s city centre, and I had been invited to spend two nights in this stunning boutique residence.
The gorgeous 22-bedroom hotel offers a unique stay in one of England’s most famous cities, home to the prestigious Oxford University, and is the perfect base for all the must-visit attractions in Oxford.
Its historic features, including sash windows, exposed timbers and stonework with the occasional creaky floorboard, add a quintessentially English feel to the hotel. Mix those elements with contemporary and antique furnishings, and you have a unique place to stay in Oxford.
The Vanbrugh is within walking distance of the city’s historic landmarks, colleges, bustling shopping streets, bars and restaurants – everything a visitor could want. With a stay at the Vanbrugh House Hotel, exploring Oxford couldn’t get any better.
Getting to Vanbrugh House Hotel
There is no parking at the hotel; however, arriving by public transport is a great option.
Use Thornhill Park and Ride OX3 8DP and take the stress out of searching for a city centre parking space. It only costs £12 to park for up to 72 hours – a bargain. (Ticket machines are by the terminal building).
Head to bus stop B and hop aboard the number 400 bus to the city centre. Disembark at the High Street / Cornmarket Street junction. It is then a 10-minute walk along Cornmarket Street to the hotel. (Please note you will need to pay for a bus ticket into the city in addition to the parking fee)
By Train – Oxford train station is a 10-minute walk to Vanbrugh House Hotel. Trains from London Marylebone or Paddington take approx one hour to reach Oxford.
A Little Bit of History
A combination of two Georgian buildings dating to the 17th and 18th-century make up the Vanbrugh House Hotel. One was home to The Peisley family, the leading Oxford stonemasons of their time. The other was the vicarage for St Michael’s church at the end of the road.
The building’s stunning design is by Sir John Vanbrugh, one of the most eminent English country house architects of the late eighteenth century. He also designed Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire and Castle Howard in Yorkshire.
Looking for an extra special stay? The Vicarage Suite has a four poster bed, a walk-in shower and two slipper baths; it’s perfect for a romantic break.
The hotel spans two buildings with a facade of golden Cotswold stone, giving an image of grandeur. Sculpted plants and the Vanbrugh House Hotel bike add a nice touch to the front of the hotel.
St Michael’s Road is blocked at one end, meaning no through traffic. Because of this, plenty of outdoor seating is attached to the local pub, coffee bar and restaurant, giving the road a Mediterranean feel.
Upon entering the hotel, you are greeted by a reception team member. If you arrive early, you can leave your luggage and head straight out to explore the city. When you return, your luggage will be waiting for you in your room. I found the staff to be friendly and helpful during my stay.
The interior has been decorated using heritage paints in muted tones, with designer wall coverings complementing the design scheme. In the entrance hall, the original floor tiles are left exposed and are beautiful.
Corridors are narrow, and door frames, in places, are low – we found out the hard way so watch your head! These features are a reminder of the age of the building and add to its charm.
Time For Bed
My superior room had a king-size bed and a 42″ TV, great for watching films at night. The mattress was pretty firm but very comfortable, allowing me two nights of great sleep.
Bedside tables with lamps provide ambient lighting, and USB wall charging ports are on both sides of the bed – a really thoughtful detail. Complimentary high-speed WIFI is great, especially if you have to work during your stay.
An exposed ceiling beam reminded me of how old the building was, and I liked that feature.
A fireplace with a mantel and a large decorative mirror added to the room’s individual styling.
A small dressing table and chair housed the all-important Nespresso machine, much more upmarket than sachet coffee!
A lovely welcoming touch in our room was two mini bottles of bubbly. We certainly enjoyed them as we got ready to go out on our first evening in Oxford.
In front of the windows were two chairs and a free-standing Dyson Pure Hot and Cold fan heater. Perfect for cooling the room down after a hot day of sightseeing in Oxford.
The outlook from the room wasn’t the prettiest as it overlooks the back of neighbouring buildings and the private patios of several rooms below, but that can’t be helped when you are in a city.
The plus side is that the bedrooms at the back of the hotel are very quiet, and I would always choose a quiet room in preference to a view, so it suited me perfectly.
I had a fabulous two-night stay and found it was so peaceful I forgot I was in the city centre!
A fabulous walk-in rainfall shower enclosure with bright blue tiles gave the bathroom a modern pop of colour. And a hint of glamour was provided by an over-sink art-deco style mirror and a selection of ‘The White Company toiletries.
I love having breakfast in bed, and the hotel has developed a novel idea for breakfast hampers.
Wicker picnic hampers hold tasty breakfast items such as pastries, yoghurts, cereals and fruit juices. Meat and cheese are available for guests who fancy a full continental-style breakfast.
I selected from the breakfast list, and my hamper arrived the following morning. I thought it was a fun and original way of providing a no-fuss breakfast for guests.
Not a fan of crumbs in the bed? You can enjoy your hamper in the hotel’s breakfast room or on the small patio area.
Prefer a cooked breakfast? There are dozens of local eateries in Oxford; my favourite was the Oxford Brunch Bar.
While there is no restaurant or bar in the hotel, there are several eateries along St Michael’s Road and lots more to choose from all over the city.
Within a Stone’s Throw
Food and Drink
Historic Oxford Landmarks
You will find many of Oxford’s top attractions on the hotel’s doorstep.
Carfax Tower – Oxford’s Oldest Landmark dating back 1000 years – 4 min walk
Ashmolean Museum – 5 min walk
University Church of St Mary – 6 min walk
Oxford Castle and Mound – 7 min walk
Radcliffe Camera and Bodleian Library – 7 min walk
Bridge of Sighs – 7 min walk
Would I recommend the hotel to a friend?
Yes, I would. The hotel is charming, comfortable and in a fantastic location. I loved that my room was so quiet even though I was in the city’s centre and that most of the best things to see in Oxford were practically on my doorstep.
For me, a weekend in Oxford is the perfect amount of time to spend in this stunning historic city, and Vanbrugh House Hotel is a great place to stay.
For more information and booking options, please visit Booking.com Vanbrugh House Hotel.
Vanbrugh House Hotel, 20-24 St Michael’s Road, Oxford, OX1 2EB
Telephone: 01865 244 622
Thank you to Vanbrugh House Hotel for my complimentary stay in return for this review. As always, this is based on my honest opinion of my stay.