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Visit Oxford’s Iconic Buildings- Oxford Union

It is difficult to find a place in Oxford that is not steeped in history and culture. The area around our boutique hotel in Oxford is no different.

Origins of the Oxford Union

Our hotel in Oxford city centre is situated just over the road from the Oxford Union Building, which is the largest society at the University of Oxford and has a history stretching back to 1823. The Oxford Union was founded as a debating society and to this day debating is at the core of what the union does. It is the worlds most prestigious debating society and promotes discussion the world over.

When the union was formed the concept of free exchange of ideas was a notion the restrictive authorities at the university were not accustomed to and the Union soon became the only place where students could discuss politics whilst attending the University of Oxford.  From its early day's members have gone on to become nationally and internationally prominent figures- some even went on to become Prime Minister.

Unlike other student unions, the Oxford Union does not hold political views but is a forum to debate political and often controversial ideas.   

Oxford’s famous debates

Debates take place on Thursday evenings and often attract media attention from across the globe.  Past debates include the 1960s speech by Malcolm X demanding black empowerment, the 1970s speech by the former President of the United States, Richard Nixon admitting he “screwed up” following Watergate and in 1996 O. J. Simpson made his only speech in the UK following the “not guilty” verdict at his trial. More recently Nick Clegg, Nigel Farage, Angela Davis and Mehdi Hassan have all debated within the Union walls. The Oxford Union believes in “freedom of speech: nothing more and nothing less.”

Oxford shaping history

Outside of Westminster, the Union is the most prominent debating platform in the country and many believe that the outcome of debates here have shaped the history of the UK. In 1933 the motion ‘This house will under no circumstances fight for King and Country’ sparked national outcry and some say the result prompted Hitler to invade Europe. In 1975 the motion ‘This House would say Yes to Europe’ arguably influenced the result of the referendum for joining the EEC.

Why not take a visit to the Oxford Union during your stay at our Oxford hotel and discover even more of this historical building's fascinating history?

Our Oxford hotel even has a suit named after and over-looking the Union building. Simply draw back the curtains and watch the world of Oxford go by!

Vanbrugh House Hotel, a boutique hotel in Oxford city centre is ideally located close to Oxford’s most iconic and historical buildings.   

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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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