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Vanbrugh House Hotel Oxford Review: A Historic Stay in Oxford

Vanbrugh House Hotel Oxford Review: A Historic Stay in Oxford

The delightful 22-bedroom Vanbrugh House Hotel is tucked away in a quiet side street in the heart of Oxford and offers a unique place to stay in one of England’s most famous cities, home to the prestigious Oxford University.

Vanbrugh House Hotel’s historic features, including sash windows, exposed timbers and stonework and the occasional creaky floorboard, add a quintessentially English feel to the property. Mix those elements with contemporary and antique furnishings for an eclectic stay in this character building.

The Vanbrugh is within walking distance of the must-visit attractions in Oxford, university 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.

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Christ Church College with flower garden to the front in Oxford.

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 centuries 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.

Vanbrugh House Hotel exterior.

First Impressions

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.

Bike outside the hotel with Vanbrugh House on a signe attached to it.

Step Inside

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 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 are low in places – 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.

Room views of bed and tv.

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.

Bedroom at Vanbrugh House, Oxford.

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!

Two mini bottles of bubbly were a lovely, welcoming touch in our room. We certainly enjoyed them as we prepared for 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!

Freshen Up

A fabulous walk-in rainfall shower enclosure with bright blue tiles gave the bathroom a modern pop of colour. An over-sink art-deco-style mirror and a selection of The White Company toiletries added a hint of glamour to the bathroom.

Breakfast Hampers

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.

Picnic hamper.

Not a fan of crumbs in the bed? Enjoy your hamper in the hotel’s breakfast room or the small patio area.

If you prefer a cooked breakfast, there are dozens of local eateries in Oxford; my favourite was the Oxford Brunch Bar.

Angie sitting on a wicker chair and enjoying tea.

While the hotel does not have a restaurant or bar, several eateries are along St Michael’s Road, and there are many more all over the city.

Within a Stone’s Throw

Food and Drink

Society Cafe

HandleBar Cafe and Kitchen

The Plough at 38

Oxford Brunch Bar

Westgate Oxford

No1 Ship Street

Historic Oxford Landmarks

Many of Oxford’s top attractions are 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

Circular stone building in Oxford.

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 the Vanbrugh House Hotel is a great place to stay.

Hotel Information

Looking for an extra special stay? The Vicarage Suite has a four-poster bed, a walk-in shower and two slipper baths, perfect for a romantic break.

For more information and booking options, please visit Vanbrugh House Hotel.

Vanbrugh House Hotel, 20-24 St Michael’s Road, Oxford, OX1 2EB

Telephone: 01865 244 622


My 2-night stay with breakfast at Vanbrugh House Hotel was complimentary for the purpose of this review. As always, my thoughts and comments are entirely my own and without bias.

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Friday 8th of October 2021

I love staying in refurbished old buildings. This hotel looks like they've done a good job keeping the charm of the original building despite modernising it.


Wednesday 6th of October 2021

Your room looks lovely! I also love all those bicycles outside and I would like to explore the city by bike.

Linda (LD Holland)

Monday 4th of October 2021

I must admit that we often stay in chain hotels because we have status and like the perks. But every now and then we love to find great luxury boutique hotels to enjoy. The Vanbrugh House looks like a great option if we get to Oxford. I love the small size of the hotel and the personal attention to detail. Being close to spots to visit is a great bonus. A breakfast hamper sounds like the perfect. Way to start your day.

Talek Nantes

Monday 4th of October 2021

I want to stay in that hotel. What a lovely review. Such an interesting city. Well done!

Nic Peters

Wednesday 29th of September 2021

Oxford has always been of interest to me after being obsessed with the Harry Potter movies but who knew there was such rich history behind the magic! I’ve looked into where to stay before but not been too impressed however I must say The Vanbrugh House Hotel seems to really compliment Oxford as a whole with its original features, traditional vibe and individual quirk. I will be sure to check it out when I make it to Oxford! As always Angie, thanks for the inspiration and carry on Wandering!


Wednesday 29th of September 2021

It's so good to hear that my post has inspired a stay at the Vanbrugh House Hotel. If you are a Harry Potter fan, Oxford will take your breath away with all its stunning buildings. Make sure you visit the Divinity School, where several scenes were filmed.