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A Locals’ Guide to Oxford

From literature and art to stunning architecture and history, Oxford is famous for many things. However, beyond the historic libraries, universities and buildings lies a quirky city bursting with hidden places just waiting to be discovered. Our boutique hotel in Oxford explores some of the city’s lesser-known attractions, loved by the locals...

Cowley Road

An ethnically diverse neighbourhood, the Cowley area in East Oxford is a vibrant, quirky and jam-packed full of culture. Cowley Road, in particular, is great for vintage shops, quirky coffee shops, independent restaurants and live music. The area has also played a prominent role in the Oxford music scene and many successful bands have played formative performances in nearby venues, including Radiohead and Ride.

Every year the vibrant road hosts a carnival to encourage engagement and unity within diverse communities through art, parades, music and dancing.

 

Cowley Road, Oxford

Oxford University Botanic Garden

Founded in 1621, Oxford Botanic Gardens is the oldest botanic and scientific garden in the UK and is committed to educating visitors about the importance of conserving wildlife and plants. The 130-acre Arboretum has been part of the Botanic Garden since 1963 and contains a diverse collection of trees, including some of the oldest redwoods in the UK. Aside from showcasing stunning trees, plants and flowers, the Botanic Garden hosts a number of events which celebrates life’s natural wonders. Click here to explore what’s on in Autumn & Winter.  

 

Oxford Botanic Garden in Autumn

The Headington Shark

An unusual rooftop sculpture located at 2 New High Street, Headington, The Headington Shark has become a beloved local landmark. The piece, made from fibreglass, was commissioned by local radio presenter, Bill Heine as an expression of incompetence, anger and despair caused by nuclear attacks. The shark was at risk of being taken down by Oxford City Council in 1992, however, local support came through and the quirky sculpture was allowed to stay. 

 

Headington shark

Modern Art Oxford

One of the only institutions in the UK dedicated to contemporary visual artwork, Modern Art Oxford has built an international reputation for its quirky exhibitions, projects and commissions. A great day out for art enthusiasts, the free art gallery showcases work from established contemporary artists, rising stars and even talented students.

 

Modern Art Oxford jOYFul LOSERS by Jun licensed under CC BY 2.0

Vanbrugh House Hotel, a boutique hotel in Oxford, is ideally located in the centre of Oxford, near to the area’s top Oxford museums, Oxford theatres and Oxford bars. To check availability, email us or call us on 01865 244 622.

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Vanbrugh House Hotel Reviews

Clare,

Melbourne, Australia

Lovely hotel in a wonderful central location. We could easily walk to most places of interest with many restaurants. We had booked a superior double, which was on the second floor and quiet as requested.

The staff were happy to help with our luggage. Standard of room excellent with a lovely bathroom and walk in shower.

Assistance pleasantly provided by helpful staff - good restaurants, parking, ice, taxis etc. Good breakfast choice included in tariff. Loved our stay and would certainly return.


Graham,

Salisbury

The experience was superb from start to finish. Lovely deluxe room with private garden. Excellent for a special treat. The hotel is in a great location and Oxford has plenty of lovely coffee shops and restaurants to keep you nourished.


Adrianne,

Hong Kong

The hotel suite is very nice and spacious. We love every detail in the room, especially the shower in the bathroom! The complimentary breakfast is also very good with nice service! Definitely will stay over again if we come back to Oxford!


Kate,

London

My husband and I came to Oxford to celebrate our wedding anniversary. From the moment we arrived at the hotel all staff were very accommodating and friendly. We were kindly given a room that required no steps (The Sir John Vanbrugh Suite) given that I am heavily pregnant. In addition, we were given a welcome drink to celebrate our anniversary as well as a lovely card- a really nice touch especially given that it was so long ago since I'd mentioned it in our booking!

Breakfast the next morning was fantastic - really fresh ingredients and friendly staff. The location of the hotel is excellent. We used the park and ride option for parking which really was very easy and much cheaper than the multi storey.

Our room looked out onto the main street but noise definitely wasn't a problem. The best part of the room was either the very comfy bed or the enormous bath! Thanks to all staff for making our stay so relaxing and enjoyable!


Luna,

Hong Kong

I recently spent one night at Oxford and since I'm not driving and I plan to take the train, I want to stay in a decent hotel at the city centre and close to train station. Vanbrugh House Hotel ticks all of the above.

Staff are super helpful and friendly, I arrived on the day with big snow and my train was cancelled so I have to get off at Didcot Parkway and take a bus. By the time I arrived, it was only 12 noon but the staff kindly check me in early. They also helped carried the luggage (together with me, of course) to go up the stairs.

The hotel was recently renovated and positioned as a boutique hotel, the size of the room is very okay as I'm travelling sole and it's very comfortable. Shower facilities are great so as the washroom amenities are very high quality. Breakfast, traditional English breakfast with unlimited cereal plus toasts was excellent. Would definitely stay here again.


Leo,

New York

Our stay at the Vanbrugh House Hotel was enjoyable. The hotel is located in the centre of Oxford, giving us the opportunity to explore Oxford right outside the front door. The staff were very helpful and courteous, and after a day of touring it was relaxing to have a glass of wine at the hotel.


Jan,

Princes Risborough

What a fabulous hotel. The staff, location and rooms are excellent. The staff couldn't do enough to help and were very welcoming. Location is perfect for the Theatre, the new Westgate shopping centre and plenty of restaurant within a very short walk.

The rooms are beautiful and very clean. Loved the fact that anything in the rooms fridge was complimentary.


Donna,

Bedford

Beautiful hotel in the centre of Oxford, great location with everything nearby, but very peaceful and quiet. The room was gorgeous, the staff very friendly and helpful. Great food and spotless rooms. Thoroughly recommended and we'll definitely be returning.


Anna,

Poland

I love luxury stays with family and this hotel is perfect. Rooms are clean, spacious and comfortable. Our kids had a very enjoyable time there. Staff are very nice and they helped us with how to organise free time for our kids. Highly recommended!


Cat,

Mount Prospect, Illinois

Nice little boutique hotel, centrally located in a quiet area. Complimentary snacks, tea, coffee in room. Comfy beds and best bonus was Mustafa from the front desk staff. He was most ready and willing to help with any request, and at all times with a very friendly and a happy personality.

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