Just off the A34, Oxford’s ring road. The hotel is in a Shell service station area next to Travelodge and opposite KFC and various coffee outlets. It’s hardly the Oxford of that “dreaming spires” cliché but all human needs are catered for.
There are 121 standard rooms and 33 executive rooms. All have tea and coffee-making facilities, TV, phones, desk and WiFi. Décor is standard Holiday Inn with big wooden headboards. The standard rooms are red and rooms on the executive floor blue. The other big difference is that Japanese-style wooden shutters replace curtains in the executive rooms and the mass-produced artwork is more convincing.
The bright glass lobby merges seamlessly into the café/bar which claims to serve Seattle’s best coffee. The bar’s large TV monitor is tuned (of course) to Sky News. There’s a small patio area outside with aluminium tables and chairs for when the weather is good enough .
The Junction is the name of the windowless restaurant off the bar that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s low-lit with dark Formica tables but friendly. Colour photography of Oxfordshire runs throughout the ground floor.
On the other side of the bar is the Spirit Club, a compact spa/gym/swimming pool complex open to non-residents.
Eating and drinking
There’s a wide selection of reliable meals served in the cafe/bar – currys and chillis, gourmet burgers, mezze, salads, sandwiches and what the hotel calls their “favourites” (sirloin steak, lasagne, pizza and fish and chips). The Junction Restaurant expands on this range with pates, fajitas, steak and ale pie and various steaks. I was impressed by the breadth of the wine list.
The Spirit Club offers a gym, modest pool, steam room and sauna. There are also two treatment rooms behind reception. Ask at reception for a list of what treatments are available.
Everyone wears grey suits and seem happy enough in their work. As ever there aren’t quite enough people serving at tables though.
Who stays there
There are 11 “Academy” rooms for conferences. This is predominantly a business hotel, although the hotel claims there’s a fair number of leisure bookings at the weekend. Very few coach parties.
Breakfast costs £14.95pp extra but cheaper if booked in advance. WiFi is charged at £15 per 24 hour period and can be used throughout the hotel. Make sure that you buy WiFi in your room, not in the downstairs lounge. The downstairs server doesn’t cover the whole hotel and you’ll end up paying twice.
- Business travellers
- Mature travellers
- Stag / hen parties
- No fuss
- Chilling out
Pros & Cons
- Free parking
- Very good for business meetings
- Convenient for motorways
- Pleasant but devoid of character
- Several miles from city centre if you want to see the sights