The hotel opened in August last year on the site of the old Cooper Callas (a bathroom and kitchen distributor) building. Surprisingly, there are only a few international hotel brands in the city, although IHG’s Voco has just opened, and there is a Mercure. Another Courtyard by Marriott is located in Abingdon, a few miles outside Oxford.
What’s it like?
The new red-brick building is modern and slightly stark on the inside, although it’s softened by a lounge section with comfy seating next to the lobby. There are a couple of computers here with free printing for the likes of boarding passes, plus a small area called the Market that sells food and alcohol, since there isn’t 24-hour room service.
I dropped off my luggage and went to park my car (there are no spaces at the hotel so staff will direct you to the nearby Westgate or Worcester Street car parks). When I returned, my bags had been taken up to my room, and a Mandarin-speaking member of staff was explaining the area’s sights to a couple checking in.
Where is it?
Very central, just across the small Castle Hill Stream from Oxford Castle, and part of a redevelopment of the Paradise Street area. The Oxford Castle Quarter is home to a Malmaison property and some restaurants and pubs. The hotel is a five-minute walk from Oxford rail station, and buses run regularly to both Heathrow and Gatwick.
There are 140 bedrooms on floors one to five, set around a central courtyard. A further 11 rooms are due to open this month in a connected neighbouring building. Categories range from the 18 sqm King Courtyard room to the 20 sqm Superior. All rooms are very modern with huge 49-inch TVs that you can use to stream your own content, fridges with free bottled water, tea and coffee facilities, ironing boards, safes and desks. They have powerful showers (no baths), although the frosted glass door and partition into the bathroom doesn’t offer much privacy.
The Castle-view rooms really do provide a view of the castle – it was dark when I arrived and when I opened the curtains the following morning, the structure was so close I had to look up to see the top of the tower. Others overlook the stream, which is more of a canal, at the back of the central courtyard. All rooms are pretty quiet, partly because of the modern build and soundproofing, and partly because there isn’t much traffic or footfall in the area.
Food and drink
The bar and restaurant, called Kitchen and Bar, is a large area in the centre of the hotel. It has a slight canteen-like feel although is attractively decorated. The friendly staff worked hard to keep everyone happy during a very busy breakfast period; not easy when there was a shortage of tables at times. In the evening there is a limited but tasty menu – I accepted the recommendation of a vegetarian curry, which was lovely.
There is also a rooftop bar with some fabulous views, although there is no service up there so drinks have to be ordered and brought up (or you could buy them from the restaurant and take them up yourself).
There is a small room for 12 people just off the lobby. The Kitchen and Bar is also used as an informal working space by guests. The rooftop bar can host gatherings for 50 guests.
There is no gym.
A great addition to the Oxford hotel scene and perfectly located so you get peace and quiet only a few minutes’ walk from the city centre.