Dubbed ‘the city of dreaming spires’, Wedding Ideas’ Wersha Bharadwa checks into a dreamy suite in Oxford’s Vanbrugh House Hotel, perfect for a UK honeymoon – and discovers Oxford’s heady mix of history, culture and iconic attractions along the way.
There’s never a dull moment in Oxford – duck behind the tourist souvenir shops and you’ll see an array of creative concept pop-ups and independents including vintage bookstores selling their own barista-made coffees, with cool bars lavishing you with intriguing cocktails and rooftop views. It all combines to form the perfect UK honeymoon destination.
Meander down any one of the pretty cobbled roads and alleys near Cotswold-stone fronted Vanbrugh House Hotel (and in and around the 17th century cottages dotted around university buildings) and you’ll find it hard to pin down the exact arrival of the 20th and 21st centuries at all. Discover why Vanbrugh House Hotel is the perfect choice for a UK honeymoon below.
Uk Honeymoon Hotel: Vanbrugh House Hotel, Oxford
Without a doubt, Vanbrugh House Hotel’s legions of fans return for its beautiful design-smart rooms. They also come back to the award-winning, discreetly situated Georgian townhouse for an unbeatable location on St Michael’s Street in the heart of Oxford.
Nearly every inch of the city centre is explorable on foot from the hotel entrance with Oxford University Christ Church, Bodleian Library, The Museum of Natural History and Westgate Shopping Centre all lapping at your feet.
Designed by Sir John Vanbrugh (the architect behind Blenheim Palace up the road) there’s plenty to fawn over. The street-level reception lobby is top-to-toe old-school elegance with chandeliers, wood-paneling, exposed brick walls and gilt mirrors. Josh on the front desk is the perfect host, greeting guests on arrival with the warmest welcome before effortlessly handling your luggage, showing you to your room and organising breakfast.
As a keen walker and travel enthusiast, he also offers truckloads of the best advice and tips for getting around the city and visiting times for attractions. The entire place feels more home than hotel and you’re quickly made to feel every inch the fashionable city resident as there’s no ritual check-in. Simply drop your bags and you’re free to gallivant and pop back in and out of the house as you please.
Suites at Vanbrugh House Hotel
Rooms are made for lingering with TVs perched on a console at the end of super-king beds bedecked in crisp Egyptian cottons and thick, spongy carpets on the floors. Sky TV is included and there are USB sockets galore. Nespresso machines and fresh milk come as standard while designer desks and bedside cabinets are topped with glossy magazines.
For the ultimate romantic getaway, head to the honeymoon suite. A private entrance and a bathroom featuring two roll top baths facing each other are worth the booking alone.
Garden rooms – like the honeymoon suite – offer views of the hotel’s lovely courtyard filled with blossoms, trellises and twittering birds. Bathrooms are flawless with heavy doors, walk-in monsoon showers and come stocked with The White Company toiletries.
The beauty here is the friendly unobtrusive team of staff who are keen and clued-up guides able to point you to the best tables in the city. Bags are quickly carried to your room or stored away if you arrive earlier than check in and want to get a few sights ticked off the bucket list. Quality soundproofing designed around the limits of the Grade II listed building also means that even on busier nights like New Year’s Eve, you’re guaranteed a peaceful night’s shut eye.
Food and Drink
Despite having no formal restaurant, breakfast is still a superlative and incredibly generous and romantic hamper-to-your room affair featuring muffins, cakes and croissants brought in each morning from a local independent bakery on a neighbouring street.
Coffees and hot chocolates are made to order and you’ll find bottles of Frobisher’s excellent mango, cranberry, apple and orange juices, fresh fruits, creamy Greek organic yoghurts, locally made jam and honey, plenty of English cheeses and charcuteries to go alongside portions of toast, warm bread rolls and the most scrumptious almond pastries ever.
The picnic hampers themselves are so pretty; take them outside for an al fresco breakfast picnic at one of the scenic University parks or the meadows of Christ Church.
For more information and to book your stay at Vanbrugh House Hotel visit www.vanbrughhousehotel.co.uk, email [email protected] or call 01865 244 622. Rooms start from £160 per night.
Things to do in Oxford on a UK Honeymoon
Three of the Best Places to Eat in Oxford
Sticks n Sushi Oxford
Undoubtedly one of the most stylish eateries in the entire city, Sticks n Sushi masterfully serves up the highest grade sushi, sashimi and yakitori in experimental flavour and texture combinations whilst offering stunning rooftop views over Oxford.
Dark leathers and Japanese Noren Curtains to separate diners inside are offset by low lighting and warm, rustic tables.
Perfect for a romantic as hell evening in the coolest hangout, you’ll love the fun of watching chefs prepare your food in a theatre-style kitchen.
The Ivy Oxford Brasserie
Have lunch the long and lazy Oxfordian way at The Ivy Brasserie. Situated right on the High Street in a neo-Gothic building that used to be a bank, the restaurant smoothly balances friendly neighbourhood vibes with romance.
The look is classic Art Deco with marbled floors, tobacco-hued banquettes, grassy pot plants and lots artistic glass and mirrors. Artwork on walls all nods to the world-famous local museums and of course, Oxford University and literature. Cosy candle-lit booths and elegant well-spaced out tables draped in white crisp linens overlooking the 1920’s style bar are made for romantic dinners with an additional layer of privacy.
Book the private dining room upstairs for an extra special honeymoon or pre-wedding treat where despite the chit-chattering in the restaurant downstairs you’ll literally feel like it’s just the two of you in your own beautiful and private world. The room also cater for intimate receptions (or upmarket hens) for up to 35 guests.
You’ll find half the work already done for you upon booking – Victors is undoubtedly one of the sexiest and prettiest joints in town.
Show you’ve understood the assignment by sipping cocktails and watching the moon rising over the city’s dreamy spires on the roof terrace before dinner.
Service is obligingly good and the menu fuses Mediterranean and Asian flavours; you’ll tuck into delectable small plates of seabass and scallop ceviche, crab and yuzu tacos and beef tataki as well as sushi and sashimi (all immaculately presented).
Where to Visit in Oxford
Christ Church, Oxford University
Short on time? A visit to the show-stopping and aristocratic Christ Church offers serious rewards (and not just for worldwide Harry Potter fans who flock for selfies at the Bodley Tower Staircase and the ancient Cloisters which were used as filming locations).
It’s a six-minute walk from Vanbrugh House, the biggest of all the Oxford colleges which are spread across 45 buildings in the city and the most famous architecturally too. There are courtyards a plenty to stroll and fountains and hidden cloisters for added honeymoon allure.
Just 30 minutes away from Oxford, the 18th century stately palace – commissioned by William III – is a UNESCO World Heritage and quite possibly one of the most enchanting spots to celebrate a honeymoon in style in the Cotswolds.
After visiting the palace state rooms and library, you’ll enjoy relaxing in the bright and elegant conservatory and being fed delightful mini savouries such as Confit pea, mint and shallot tarts and flaky sausage rolls.
The piece de resistance at Blenheim is of course the dreamy Marlborough Maze where you’ll spend hours losing yourselves in one of the biggest labyrinths in Europe. The two-mile circular maze was planted in 1991 using 3,000 yew hedges.
Bodleian Old Library
Still a working library and one of the oldest in Europe, most of the building is off limits to the public.
Take the guided tour for access into Duke Humphrey’s medieval library and the Radcliffe Camera or book tickets and marvel at the inspired interiors of The Divinity School.
For more information and inspiration visit Experience Oxfordshire at www.experienceoxfordshire.org or email [email protected].