Old Bank – Classy boutique hotel with a stellar art collection in a prime location on High Street.
Even if Old Bank Hotel did not have comfy rooms, an excellent restaurant, a cozy library, and helpful staff, it would still be one of Oxford’s top hotel picks thanks to its enviable location on High Street, opposite the University Church of St Mary the Virgin and All Souls College. Luckily for its guests, it has all of those things and more, and is a successful fusion of down-to-earth warmth and classy elegance, thanks to its tasteful interiors that blend traditional English craftsmanship, bright fabrics, and bold paintings. Seconds away from the Old Bodleian Library and the Radcliffe Camera, and a short walk from Merton and Christ Church colleges, a stay at this historic hotel is a sublime experience – it’s a fusion of three old buildings from different architectural eras, one of which actually used to be a bank which counted Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, among its patrons.
Old Bank – Location
- Address: 92-94 High Street, Oxford.
- Area: The hotel is right in the City Center, an area within which nowhere takes longer than 20 minutes to reach on foot. It is opposite the University’s church, St Mary’s, and the Bodleian Libraries. “The High”, as the street is known by locals, is buzzing with activity and shops and is surrounded by some of the best food and drinks in the city.
- How to Get There: The hotel provides thorough directions. There is a complementary car park, but driving in the City Center is restricted depending on time of day. The hotel is a 16-minute walk (0.8 mile) from the train station, or an 11-minute walk (0.5 mile) from the bus station.
- Handy to: Bodleian Libraries, Merton & Magdalen colleges.
Old Bank – The Basics
- Ages: All ages are welcome.
- Private Pools/Jacuzzis: No private pools or jacuzzis.
- View: Street-facing rooms have views of the wonderful buildings on and near High Street, including the Radcliffe Camera (of the Bodleian Library), St Mary’s Church, and All Souls College.
- Laundry: Available for an extra charge.
- Parking: The hotel provides thorough information on its website. There is a free guest car park, but it’s worth researching the city center driving restrictions depending on the time of day you are due to arrive.
- Extras: Complementary bicycles, guest library, fresh flowers, complimentary bottled water, turndown service, in-room treatments, newspapers, concierge service, bedside reading material (Mogford Prize for Food & Drink Writing winners).
- When to Book: The hotel is busy year-round. Book at least 3 weeks in advance for weekend stays, and up to 3 months ahead for beginning of term or graduation.
- How to Book: Booking.com will have the best rates.
- Phone: +44 1865 799 599
- Email: [email protected]
- Website: oldbankhotel.co.uk
Old Bank – Amenities
- Pool: No pool.
- Spa: There are plans to open a spa. In the meantime, in-room treatments are available upon request.
- Fitness Center: No fitness center.
- For Families: There is a Family Package which includes breakfast; a children’s welcome pack; use of bicycles, board games, and children’s books; milk and cookies on turndown; and babysitting services and extra beds for an additional charge. A kids’ menu is available at Quod, the hotel’s restaurant, and there are interconnecting rooms.
- For Disabled Guests: There is a fully accessible room on the ground floor and an elevator to the upper floors.
Old Bank – Food and Drink
- Restaurant/Bar: Quod is beloved by guests and locals alike. It has lots of choices, including a good value set lunch and traditional afternoon tea. The cuisine is European classics with British produce, for example, pork belly with apple sauce, or spaghettini with Cornish brown crab, chili, and basil. There are also burgers, pizzas, and salads, as well as delectable desserts and a great selection of wines and cocktails from the beautiful onyx bar. The back doors are thrown open in the summer to provide al fresco dining options in the Italianate courtyard. Open 7 am-11 pm daily. $-$$$.
- Breakfast: Served 7-11 am at Quod, breakfast is a luxurious affair where you are able to choose from individual items such as grilled kippers with lemon and parsley butter or buttermilk pancakes with banana and toffee sauce, or a high-quality version of a Full English, all served fresh to order. Dishes range from £7 for individual items to around £18 for the Full English Breakfast with drinks included.
- Room Service: Available 24 hours.
Old Bank – Rooms
- Room Types: Small Double ● Boutique Double/Twin ● Classic Double/Accessible ● Deluxe Double/Twin ● Superior Deluxe with/without balcony ● Junior Suite with/without balcony ● Suite (views of High Street) ● Rooftop Bedroom & Terrace • List of all Rooms
- Smoking Rooms: The Old Bank is 100% smoke-free.
- Best Room: The Rooftop Bedroom & Terrace is undoubtedly the best room, covering some 625 sqft. Its terrace, overlooking the High Street, is directly opposite St Mary’s Church, with views to the Radcliffe Camera and All Souls College quad. Features include A/C and underfloor heating, handmade super king bed, a bar/cocktail/coffee making station, electric blinds and blackout curtains, 55” Smart TV with Sky, an integrated music system and radio, a large sofa, Carrara marble bathroom with a large rain shower and twin vanity unit, and the glorious garden terrace with dining table and sun loungers. All that, in addition to the features all rooms share: a desk, eclectic modern art, fresh flowers, complimentary mineral water, safe, Noble Isle toiletries, and linen robes.
- Family Rooms: There are no family rooms per se but the interconnecting rooms accommodate families very well.
Old Bank – Local Transport
- Walking: Everything in the city center, as well as the city’s most famous museums, is within a 20-minute walk of the hotel.
- Tram/Bus: There are 2 bus stops just steps from the hotel – High Street (100m) and Queens Lane (100m) – where you can catch buses serving most areas in the city, including the main bus station, Gloucester Green, the train station, the park-and-rides, and even the X90 bus to London. However, due to city-center congestion, it’s worth knowing that buses can often take longer than walking, especially for short distances.
- Taxis, Uber, Lyft: Uber is banned in Oxford. London-style black cabs can be hailed from the street, or can be found at taxi ranks dotted around town. There are also many local cab companies that will allow you to pre-book. 001 Taxis (+44 1865 240 000) is one of the most popular, has its own app, and operates 24/7.
Old Bank – What’s Nearby?
Recommended Nearby Tours
- Uncomfortable Oxford – Aiming to combat the glossy version of Oxford that many tour companies espouse, these guys want to get behind the inequality, colonialism, and other unpleasant aspects of the city’s history. Essential stuff if you want to really understand modern Britain. Various starting points.
- Oxford Official Walking Tours – The Oxfordshire tourist board puts on excellent walking tours covering not only the city and university, but also Harry Potter, Inspector Morse, and Philip Pullman tours. The meeting point is at the main office and shop in Broad Street, a 5-minute walk (0.3 mile) from the hotel.
- River Cruises and Punting – Oxford River Cruises and Salters Steamers, across from each other at Folly Bridge (0.6 mile), offer various delightful experiences from punts and city tours to sundowner cruises in the summer months. Another popular place to hire punts, pedalos, and more is at Magdalen Bridge Boathouse (0.3 mile).
Best Nearby Restaurants
Many of Oxford’s pubs serve excellent food, too.
- The Ivy Oxford Brasserie – Brand new outpost of the famous London restaurant and long-time celebrity favorite. As well as modern takes on classic European dishes, there’s a full veggie/vegan menu and a good-value set menu. $$-$$$. (0.1 mile).
- Chiang Mai Kitchen – High-quality Thai food in an amazingly characterful building dating back to 1637. $-$$. (0.1 mile).
- Shezan – On the first floor of a building which dates back to 1679. This genuine Indian Balti restaurant is lauded by many as the best of its kind in town. $-$$. (0.2 mile).
- No. 1 Ship Street – Excellent bar-restaurant that describes itself as a “modern British brasserie”. Good value lunch menu. $-$$. (0.3 mile).
- Edamamé – A tiny, casual, family-run Japanese restaurant that offers a different menu each day. Arrive early for the popular Sushi Thursdays as there are no reservations. Open Wednesday-Sunday. $-$$. (0.3 mile).
- The Handle Bar – A good selection of freshly-made, healthy, and inventive meals served all day in a warehouse attic covered in old bicycles. $-$$. (0.4 mile).
- The White Rabbit – Looks like a traditional pub from the outside, but is rebranded as a “pizza and beer” joint inside, offering a wide range of handmade pizzas (including excellent gluten-free options) and craft brews. $. (0.5 mile).
- Bbuona Pizza Bar – Excellent Roman pizzeria offering a choice of flours for your base and several toppings. As you’d expect from a good Italian restaurant, this place is open from 8 am daily and also does great coffee and spritz. $-$$. (0.5 mile).
- Glut – Opulent burgers and loaded fries with great options for meat-eaters, vegans, and veggies alike. $. (0.5 mile).
- The Folly – This elegant riverside restaurant, open for brunch, lunch, and dinner every day in high season (check website for winter opening hours), claims to be the spot where Lewis Carroll first created Alice in Wonderland. It offers river cruises, and boats are available to hire right outside, too. $-$$$. (0.6 mile).
Best Nearby Cafes
- Vaults & Garden Cafe – A popular spot in the pretty courtyard of the University Church, right by the Radcliffe Camera, that does hearty organic, seasonal, and veggie breakfasts, lunches, and cream teas. (75m).
- Jericho Coffee Traders – Hip flagship café of a local roastery, always full of serious coffee heads. (75m).
- G&D’s – An Oxford institution that is George & Danver in the city center, George & Delila on Cowley Road, and George & Davis in Jericho. Freshly made ice cream, waffles, bagels, and great hot chocolate. George & Danver’s is a 5-minute walk (0.3 mile).
Best Nearby Bars
- Sandy’s Piano & Wine Bar – Classy, old-fashioned piano bar with modern stylings. Reservations recommended on weekends. (0.1 mile).
- The Varsity Club – This swanky bar’s spectacular roof terrace makes it worth the climb up 4 flights of stairs. Luckily, there are good cocktails and small bites, as well as a full menu available in the summer months. (0.2 mile).
- The Chequers – 16th century traditional pub down an alleyway off the High Street. Owned by Nicholson’s brewery, it serves standard pub fare, specializing in seafood. (0.2 mile).
- The Bear – The oldest pub in Oxford, dating back to 1242, is renowned for its cramped rooms whose walls are plastered in an eye-boggling collection of neckties from Oxford clubs. (0.2 mile).
- The Eagle & Child – 17th-century pub with flagstone floors and cozy snugs. Nicknamed “The Bird and Baby” by former patrons J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. (0.6 mile).
Nearby Shopping & Cool Shops
- Sanders of Oxford – Cavernous print and map shop featuring new and old stock in a 16th-century building. (50m).
- University of Oxford Shop – Right on High Street, in between some of the most famous colleges, feel like an alumnus and stock up on branded university gear. (100m).
- Cornmarket Street – Central pedestrianized shopping street that is of particular interest for its small arcades and markets running off it, like the Golden Cross arcade, Covered Market, Clarendon Shopping Centre, and Westgate mall. Make sure to check out Oxford’s oldest building, the Saxon-age tower of St Michael at the North Gate, built between 1000–1050; you can ascend it for good city views. (0.2 mile).
- Westgate – This new mall has injected life into this often-overlooked section of the city center, drawing big crowds to its sleek passageways filled with cult and international brands, as well as to its rooftop bars. (0.3 mile).
- Fudge Kitchen – Watch fudge being made in great slabs and try British flavors like clotted cream or rum and raisin. (0.3 mile).
- Boswells of Oxford – A family-run Oxford department store with a long history – it is rumored that Captain Cook used Francis Boswell’s handmade suitcases in the 18th century. (0.3 mile).
- Alice’s Shop – Curious, tiny boutique dedicated to Oxford’s most famous literary character, Alice in Wonderland. (0.4 mile).
- University Church of St Mary the Virgin – The University’s main church, just opposite the hotel and next to the Radcliffe Camera, offers the highest view over Oxford from its spire. It has a great cafe, too. (25m).
- Bodleian Libraries – The Bodleian Libraries, comprised of the Old Bodleian Library and the modern Weston Library, are the second largest in Britain after the British Library. The Old Bodleian Library is made up of many smaller parts: most famously, the striking circular Radcliffe Camera, but also the intriguingly named Divinity School and the 15th-century Duke Humfrey’s Library, both of which featured in the Harry Potter films. You have to take a tour to see inside. Meanwhile, at the Weston Library on Broad Street, there’s an exhibition dedicated to the Bodleian’s most famous books and some of the scholars who have studied at the library. (0.1 mile).
- Sheldonian Theatre – The University’s graduation ceremonies are held in this striking building wedged between the Old Bodleian Library and the Weston on Broad Street. The main attractions of touring the 17th-century building include Christopher Wren’s ingenious engineering, the enormous ceiling mural, and the panoramic city views from the Cupola. (0.2 mile).
- History of Science Museum – Next door to the Sheldonian is this remarkable museum which features many beautiful antiquities as well as more modern curios like a blackboard used by Einstein when he gave a lecture at the University, and the original penicillin culture specimen. (0.2 mile).
- Museum of Oxford – Run by the local government, this is a great showcase of people’s history of the city and proves there’s much more to the town than just the University. (0.2 mile).
- High Street – The hotel is on the graceful curving High Street, packed with University colleges, including Brasenose, St Edmund Hall, All-Souls, Queen’s, and the confusingly named University College. The top pick for most will be the beautiful 15th-century Magdalen College (pronounced Maud-lin – 0.3 mile), whose gorgeous grounds, which include a deer park, should be taken advantage of in good weather. Opposite the college is the University’s lush Botanic Garden & Arboretum; it’s the oldest in the UK and features over 6,000 different plants across 130 acres. Don’t miss the cluster of fairytale cobbled streets just south of the High Street, with names like Magpie Lane and Logic Lane. They lead to Merton College, one of the original three colleges that made up the University (along with Balliol and University colleges) in the 13th century. Features to look out for include its quaint Mob Quad, the chapel, and the gargoyles adorning some of the buildings (0.3 mile).
- Christ Church College – Of all the colleges, the crown jewel for tourists is Christ Church. It is the most open to the public and features an art gallery, a cathedral, a meadow, and the bit most people are here for (even if they don’t admit it), the Great Hall, otherwise known as Hogwarts’ dining room. If you’re into Renaissance painting, the Picture Gallery boasts works by Tintoretto and Michelangelo, among others. (0.4 mile).
- Oxford Castle Quarter – The main attraction of the so-called Castle Quarter is, unsurprisingly, the castle, as well as the next-door prison, which is now a plush hotel. The Oxford Castle & Prison museum/experience spans several significant historic sites: the Saxon-era St. George’s Tower, a 900-year-old crypt, an 18th-century prison, an 11th-century Motte-and-Bailey castle, and lots of folklore and gruesome local history along the way. (0.4 mile).
- Pitt Rivers Museum & Museum of Natural History – Two of the city’s best museums, great for kids and adults alike, are wrapped up in one cool building in the University’s Science Area. The Pitt Rivers Museum is undoubtedly one of the best museums, not only in the UK but also in the world. Established by a Victorian collector, it is a fascinating romp through human psychology via displays that group together objects from different time periods and cultures by use, such as drug paraphernalia, farming tools, warrior clothes, or body modification equipment. Next door, the Museum of Natural History boasts a ‘skeleton parade’ of mammals throughout the ages, as well as the world’s best surviving dodo remains, dinosaur bones found in Oxfordshire, fossils, stuffed animals, gemstones, and more. There’s also a café overlooking the awesome atrium. (0.4 mile).
- Ashmolean Museum – If you only visit one museum in Oxford, it should be the Ashmolean, just north of the city center. It carries the weight of being Britain’s first public museum with ease, thanks to its awesome collection of world treasures from Ancient Egypt, China, Japan, and the Middle East, as well as awe-inspiring art from Goya, Manet, Michelangelo, Raphael, Turner, and many more. Don’t miss its classy rooftop restaurant. (0.5 mile).
- University Parks & the River Cherwell – University Parks, northeast of the city center, is one of the city’s most pleasant green spaces. The University turned it into a landscaped park in the 19th century with the aim of creating a space for “town” as well as “gown” – locals and students alike. There are lots of different areas to explore, but one of the loveliest is the riverside walkway alongside the River Cherwell (pronounced “Charwell”), one of the largest tributaries to the River Thames. The river goes south through Magdalen College’s gorgeous grounds and Christ Church meadow. (0.6 mile to University Parks.)
- Port Meadow – Wander among free-range horses, cows, and sheep on this 440-acre plain along the River Thames. A big draw is that you can start or end a walk at The Trout or The Perch: historic inns with heavenly riverside terraces. To get there, you can either walk to the start of the Oxford Canal on Hythe Bridge Street (0.6 mile) and walk north along the towpath, or wend your way northwest from the Ashmolean through Jericho until you hit it on Walton Well Road (1.5 miles).
Nearby Markets or Grocery Stores
- Covered Market – Foodies should not under any circumstances miss the Souvlaki Brothers, The Oxford Cheese Co., the coffee at Colombia Coffee Roasters, or the gelateria at iScream. (0.2 mile).
- Sainsbury’s Local – Mini supermarket selling the basics. Conveniently open daily 7 am-11 pm. (0.2 mile).
- Gloucester Green – A modern square behind the bus station that hosts lively markets Wednesday-Saturday, each day offering something slightly different, from produce to street food and crafts. (0.5 mile).
Old Bank – The Hotel
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