Stay here: Vanbrugh House Hotel, Oxford
You had me at ‘Georgian front door’. Vanbrugh House Hotel won the Muddy Stilettos Award 2016 for best boutique hotel and having stayed the night it’s easy to see why. This honey-stoned beauty, bang in central Oxford, offers something a bit different. Firstly, there’s no restaurant for dinner and no bar, and I loved that, because it feels very modern – why have one of those fusty hotel eateries when you’re on St Michael’s St with all the city delights within a 2 minute walk?
Secondly, when you get into your room you, or your partner in crime – in my case, my 13 year old son – will find the minibar. Everything in there is free. Free I tell you! Fill your boots, scoff three chocolate bars, glug down a Pepsi or two. It’s all yours. Ditto breakfast, which is included in your overnight fee. I know the cost is factored in the other end somewhere, but as Barry White knew only too well, it feels so gooood this way.
There’s a central reception to the Vanbrugh but then really it’s all about the rooms – 22 bedrooms all up. I stayed in the Vicarage Suite, one of two suites that have a city garden and terrace. The four-poster bed was huge and impossible to resist launching onto an filming, because, um, y’know, it’s very important to review how firm a mattress is.
The settee at the foot of the bed was big enough for two, but with Olympics on at the same time as the Euros, there was only one thing for it – the oldest mudlet went and watched the footy in one of the two baths.
The bathroom was bigger than my living room and in addition to the two bathrooms, had a frankly gargantuan shower, a rather lovely old-fashioned settle and an array of White Company toiletries that went straight in the teenager’s bag (he’s collecting – don’t judge).
The bed was divine – had a 10 hour deep snore – and then in the morning I took my first cuppa out onto the private terrace. Lovely to have some outdoor space so centrally in Oxford with the sun shining as well as providing yet another opportunity for my teen to abuse the luxury touches.
Breakfast was out of our front door, left for 20 yards to the main reception entrance, down the stairs and into a quietly funky dining area, cool inside but with the weather so lovely we went out into the courtyard.You can have brekky and lunch here off the street, you don’t have to stay at the hotel, but realistically with so many other great drop-in brek and brunch spots in Oxford it’s really a guesty thing.
I think this kind of place really suits someone who wants somewhere stylish to rest his or her head, but doesn’t want all the frou-frou that bunks up prices un-necessarily – the spa, the bar, the formal restaurant. I really liked it for that, because frankly if you’re in Oxford you want to get out and about and enjoy the city.
So speaking of which, allow me to finish this little post with a few suggestions. The Vanbrugh House Hotel is on St Michael St, with George St shopping at one end, and parallel to it, George St with the New Theatre literally 2 minute’s walk (along with the Byron/Jamie/Thaikun chains for kid-friendly eating).
There’s a lovely cafe Society about 30 seconds away, and Oxford’s trendiest coffee shop, The Missing Bean, beloved of connossieurs, students and trendies, a skip away in Turl St. Cocktails and parties are to be found in the High Street at TVC and it’s lovely rooftop bar and cool inner floors. Radcliffe Camera, The Bodliean Library and a zillion colleges are paces away (particularly pretty: Trinity, Christchurch, Oriel, Worcester, Magdalen). Hmm, in fact I think I should probably do a whole Oxford post actually, hold that thought, I’ll come back to that one. Back to the matter in hand!
Prices, I hear you say? Very reasonable, with a small double at £136 going up to the two superposho garden suites at £285 per night. So it’s ideal whether you’re after a romantic night in the city, or a pillow on which to rest your head after a long day sightseeing. A big Muddy thumbs up.
Vanbrugh House Hotel, 20-24 St Michael’s Street, Oxford, OX1 2EB. Tel: 01865 244 622. vanbrughhousehotel.co.uk