Bath Place

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Address: 4-5 Bath Place, Holywelll Street, Oxford, OX1 3SU, United Kingdom

Star rating:
3 star hotel

4

A quaint, historic hotel with literary connections.

This cluster of 17th-century cottages surrounding a flagstone courtyard was built outside the medieval city walls of Oxford by a community of Flemish weavers. Later Dante Gabriel Rossetti came to the humble dwellings of Bath Place to seek out Jane Burden, the daughter of an Oxford stockman, who went on to inspire the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and marry William Morris. The crime writer Dorothy L Sayers lived in a suite of rooms at Bath Place before it was turned into a hotel, and Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor stayed here incognito once it was open for business.

Location
4.3
90%
Eating/drinking
3.2
90%
Leisure facilities
n/a
90%
Service
3
90%
Value for money
3.8
90%
Bedrooms
3.5
90%
Public areas
3
90%

Location

Down a narrow alley opposite the Holywell Music Rooms, the oldest purpose-built concert hall in Europe. Bath Place connects with the justifiably famous Turf Tavern via a passageway under the bedrooms. These charming hidden buildings are sandwiched between Hertford and New Colleges, their labyrinthine inaccessibility recalling the organic way most English cities grew up. Broad Street, a 17th century attempt to rationalise Oxford, is a minute's walk away.

Bedrooms

There are 15 rooms, most with sloping ceilings, in different cottages linked by narrow staircases and landings. All rooms are en suite with small digital flat-screen televisions, a minibar and coffee and tea-making facilities. Remarkably, given the thickness of the walls, the free WiFi works in most rooms, but the hotel can’t guarantee it will work in yours.

Bedrooms are decorated predominantly in blue and white, as is the rest of the hotel. Room 3 (where Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor stayed while he was performing Dr Faustus at the Playhouse) has a large white four poster bed. The cottage where Jane Morris lived is now the hotel kitchen, alas.

Public areas

There is a small but comfortable bar/lounge with a TV, gas fire and guaranteed WiFi access. The bar has a Victorian counter. Around the corner is the pleasant but unremarkable breakfast room which opens out into the courtyard.

Eating and drinking

Continental breakfast is included in the room rate. Cooked breakfast is an extra at £7.50. The Fawsitt family, who took over Bath Place in 1988, long ago realised that there was no point in providing evening meals when you are right next to the Turf Tavern and have just about every kind of restaurant in easy walking distance.

Service

Idiosyncratic but not without its charm. It’s perhaps not surprising that such a small and eccentric cluster of buildings breeds eccentric behaviour. On a recent visit I was kept waiting for nearly ten minutes while the receptionist complained about his job to someone at the other end of the phone line. He was, however, companionable and interesting once he’d put the phone down.

Who stays there

Couples – with Burton/Taylor and Rossetti and "Janey” this is the heart of romantic Oxford. Cultural tourists who want Oxford on their doorstep. Bath Place is not ideal for families.

Price advice

Room rates vary with the season. There is free parking five minutes' walk away, which is a great luxury. Guaranteed parking can be booked in advance at £10 per night.

Amenities

Recommended for

  • Couples
  • Culture vultures
  • Sightseeing
  • History

Pros & Cons

  • Individuality and character
  • Wonderful location in the heart of all the major sights
  • Noise from the Turf Tavern at night
  • Variable service
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