Swellegant Stays: Vanbrugh House Hotel


Year after year, the University of Oxford is ranked as the world’s best university. This venerable institution has certainly had plenty of time to perfect its education: Oxford was already teaching students in 1096, and as such it is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Famous alumni include historic figures such as the philosophers John Lock and Thomas Hobbes, the economist Adam Smith, and authors Oscar Wilde, Lewis Carroll, and JRR Tolkien. More recently, Bill Clinton, Hugh Grant, Stephen Hawking, and Tony Blair all took their degrees from Oxford.

Most visitors to Oxford will never be part of the tight-knit communities of the university colleges, but the next best thing is to stay in the heart of what is aptly known as the “City of Dreaming Spires”, and to tour the historic buildings with a student. The historic Vanbrugh House Hotel was styled by the architect Sir John Vanbrugh, who was also responsible for nearby Blenheim Palace. It sits opposite the (in)famous Oxford Union, the Oxford University’s debating society.

The hotel’s buildings date from the 17th and 18th centuries and retain many historic features, including wood paneling, painted alcoves, and Delft tiling. The 22 guest rooms combine English traditions with contemporary design and luxuries. Many of them have grand fireplaces with stone mantelpieces, plus huge sash windows overlooking the courtyard garden. Smart TVs, Dyson fan heaters, Nespresso coffee machines, and powerful rain showers bring things bang up to date.

It is the experiences which Vanbrugh offers which set it apart from the competition, however. How would you like to take a personalized walking tour through the university, led by Oxford graduate Iain Stephenson and his fellow students? In the summer months it is also possible to have a picnic breakfast whilst exploring Oxford’s iconic sites from the water. Vanbrugh’s chauffeured punt tour is not only romantic but also enables you to enjoy one of Oxford’s quirkiest activities, without the risk of falling in!



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