On the corner of Banbury and Northam Roads and opposite the quaint, narrow Victorian shopping street known as North Parade. By a delightfully Oxonian quirk, North Parade actually lies south of South Parade. Gee’s Restaurant is also nearby and there is a pleasant walk down Bardwell to the Cherwell Boathouse where punts and rowing boats can hired. This is the gracious “Merchant Ivory” quarter of Oxford, although you are not at all far from the city centre or from the more bohemian delights of Jericho.
There are 48 bedrooms. The best are the 10 “feature” rooms in the old house, each quite individual in layout, including a few imaginatively inserted under the eaves. Decoration is at the more florid end of Laura Ashley’s Victorian revival. Each room is named after one of the better-known Oxford colleges and there are college coats of arms on the doors to stop you getting lost.
The other rooms are in two extensions, one more attractive than the other. If you don’t want to pay for a feature room, ask for rooms 72-77 which are in the faux stable block extension with balconies or patios overlooking the inner courtyard. Feature rooms cost approximately twice the rest so price is a consideration. Unless you are on business and out most of the day the basic rooms do come over as a bit of a poor relation.
The bar and lounge continue the Laura Ashley theme and are attractive, comfortable places to relax. The bar with its dark green-striped wallpaper and working fireplace is a good place sit out a chilly winter evening. The dining room”66a” is more modern, with parquet flooring and Venetian blinds replacing the thick William Morris drapes and deep carpet of the lounge and bar.
Eating and drinking
Bar snacks are available during the day. A set dinner for £22.50 is available nightly in the 66a dining room. The cuisine might be described as New British - traditional British dishes given a lighter makeover. Ham and peas find themselves in a risotto. The lamb cutlets come with minted potatoes that have been “crushed” and the sautéed scallops and prawns are presented in a spinach and hazelnut sauce.
Pleasant but levels of English spoken improve with seniority.
Who stays there
Surprisingly there are a lot of corporate clients during the week as the hotel has well-hidden conference rooms. On Friday the tourists arrive. Free parking makes the hotel attractive to those touring England by car.
Single rooms, Doubles and Four-poster suites are on offer. There is a big price differential between the standard rooms and the ten feature rooms.
Continental breakfast costs £9.50 extra and Full English £12.50 extra. WiFi is free for the first hour per day throughout the hotel, and then £5 for the remaining 23 hours.
- High-Speed Internet
- Room Service
- Business travellers
- Mature travellers
- Escaping the crowds
Pros & Cons
- Feature rooms are like living the Victorian dream
- The shops, galleries and cafes of North Parade
- Free parking
- Cosy bar
- Out of the city centre
- The 38 non-“feature” rooms are functional and uninspiring