At the top of Oxford’s widest street, St Giles, the Old Parsonage is located close to the Jericho quarter with its excellent restaurants and curiosity shops. It’s even closer to the original Brown’s Restaurant, Raymond Blanc’s Patisserie Blanc. Taylor’s Deli and the Eagle and Child, the pub where C.S.Lewis and J.R.R.Tolkien discussed their fiction. There is almost a sense of a very well-heeled village here clustered around the 12th-century church of St. Giles.
There are 30 rooms, some with their own garden patios in an extension at the back. My favourites are the four in the original house of 1660, which of course are offered as deluxe. The main colour scheme is beige with discreet outbursts of colour in the cushions and throws. Headboards are big and sofas comfy. Free WiFi and excellent tea and coffee-making facilities are in every room, and Junior Suites even have espresso machines. Every room has prints of Tim Steward’s charcoal studies of Oxford. The hotel’s owner, Jeremy Mogford, is very committed to art.
The lobby and bar are quite charming if, like me, you like low ceilings, old flagstones and a log fire. Beyond it the sombre Pike Room doubles as a reading room for guests and a private dining room or even a venue for civil wedding ceremonies. The red-painted dining room is a riot of paintings collected by Jeremy Mogford. In fact so proud is Mr Mogford of his collection, that he has brought out a guide to artwork at the Old Parsonage and its sexier sister property [node:170859]. There is a very attractive walled garden to rear of the hotel that is just for hotel guests.
Eating and drinking
Dining is relatively informal in the red-painted dining area. The food can be best described as Modern British cuisine. Quails’ eggs, English brawn with piccalilli, smoked trout, roast partridge, and rabbit with mustard and bacon offer a contemporary twist on good traditional English fare. On Sundays there is a popular set menu for lunch. There is also an early supper menu served Monday to Thursday which offers two courses for £13.95. Friday night is jazz night at 8-10pm.
No gym, pool or spa but free cycle hire and the resident art expert Isabella Underhill will take guests on complimentary tailor-made walking tours of the city.
Pleasant and predominantly young staff are smartly turned out in suits and white shirts.
Who stays there
A lot of returning guests. The Old Parsonage is very popular with French and German tourists and Americans. The British like it too, especially those who enjoy Richard Curtis land. Reasonable parking facilities make the hotel attractive to those seeing England by car.
Double and twin rooms are sold on a room only basis. There are also Deluxes and Junior Suites. Continental breakfast costs £12.95 extra pp and Full English £14pp.
- Culture vultures
- Mature travellers
- Design and architecture
Pros & Cons
- Free parking
- Interesting and convenient location
- Charming and cosy building
- Particularly busy at the weekend
- Lack of modern leisure facilities