The Four Pillars hotel group has six properties in its portfolio: This hotel, Oxford Spires Four Pillars, which has just celebrated its 10th year; Witney Four Pillars hotel; Abingdon Four Pillars hotel; Tortworth Court Four Pillars Hotel (a Grade II listed Victorian mansion, near Bristol); Oxford Thames Four Pillars Hotel and the newest addition, The Four Pillars Cotswold water park.
What’s it like?
The Oxford Spires is a two-storey building set in five acres of grounds and surrounded by 40 acres of countryside (it’s opposite a horse sanctuary). It’s a comfortable hotel, not pretentious at all. The reception has the Deacons Bar towards the rear and a central lift to the rooms. When I checked in at lunchtime on a Tuesday it was quiet but later the bar was bustling with people as a group of businessmen arrived. The bar and restaurant have recently been refurbished and the rooms were renovated three years ago. Six of the rooms will shortly be branded as ‘chic’ rooms and will have hair straighteners, hair dryers, fair trade chocolate and Clarins toiletries. The hotel also offers free parking and free wifi access – you have to collect a code from reception.
Where is it?
It’s on Abingdon Road, just before you reach Oxford city centre. You can walk into town along the Thames (fifteen minutes) or by road it takes ten. The station is around ten minutes drive. It is also close to the business parks outside the centre and BMW’s Mini Plant.
How many rooms?
There are 160 rooms: 100 standard rooms, four suites with kitchenettes for longer stay guests, 10 four poster suites and 46 connoisseur rooms (seven with private terraces).
My room was a connoisseur room (214) with a terrace, on the second floor and overlooked fields. You access your room with a key and the bathroom is on the left. There was a shower in the bathtub, and a large sink area with Damana toiletries (shower gel and shampoo in one, and body lotion and some soap). Connoisseur rooms have bathrobes and free mini bars (mine had a small bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, a beer, an orange juice, a Pepsi and some water). There was a desk opposite the bed and a sofa and coffee table near the French windows. The TV was not flatscreen, but could be angled from its cabinet so that if you were watching from the bed or the sofa you always got a clear view. Décor is warm reds and browns with a comfortable bed with white duvet and white pillows. The wifi was easy to access and there were tea and coffee making facilities and an iron and ironing board and a safe in the wardrobe.
Business and meeting facilities
Conference and meeting facilities are extensive. There are 19 meeting rooms spread over the two floors, the largest is the Cathedral Suite which has a capacity for 266 theatre-style and 160 people banquet-style. The room can be divided into smaller sections for more intimate meetings. There is free wifi access throughout the hotel and all rooms have natural daylight. On the first floor there is the drawing room – a relaxed area with sofas and chairs if you just want a chat over coffee. This can also be used for small weddings.
Restaurants and bars
Deacons bar in the lobby is a relaxed area with photographs of Oxford. It feels like a front room, with warm reds and browns and comfortable chairs. The Deacons restaurant, where breakfast is also served has 60 covers. My package was dinner, bed and breakfast and the food was superb. There was a good choice of starters and mains – I opted for a three smoked fish terrine with toasted ciabatta which was a good portion and very tasty. There were also eggs Benedict, mussels, soup of the day, chicken Satay and more. For the main I had shoulder of lamb with roasted vegetables. Between my starter and main course the fire alarm went off and everyone had to evacuate the building. It was cold and although we were only outside for around five minutes, on our return the staff came around offering hot drinks to warm us up. I declined as I was about to have my main course but it was a thoughtful touch. The shoulder of lamb was beautifully tender and a decent portion. The vegetables were just right too, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. For dessert I chose the platter of cheeses with grapes and celery. Breakfast is also served here and there was a good variety, from cereals to fruit and yoghurt as well as the full English buffet style. Tea and coffee are served at the table.
Health and fitness facilities
The hotel has the Willows Leisure centre with a small but well-equipped gym with some machines overlooking the pool and hot tub. There’s a sauna and steam room and a spa therapy room – book in advance for a treatment. I spent an hour swimming and using the steam room before dinner – the gym is open to locals as well as guests so try to miss the six o’clock rush when everyone seems to arrive after work. Towels are given out at the spa reception.
Internet rates for the three-course dinner, bed and breakfast package started at £114 for a mid week stay in mid January. Room only rates started from £89. Breakfast is charged at £12.95.
A great product and excellent value (especially if you book far ahead enough to get the dinner, bed and breakfast package). Comfortable and welcoming, big bonuses include the free wifi, free parking, excellent restaurant and leisure facilities and the location close to the city centre.
Contact Oxford Spires Four Pillars Hotel, Abingdon Road, Oxford; tel +44 (0)1865 324 324; four-pillars.co.uk