The Best Boutique Hotels in Oxford, England

The 12 Best Boutique Hotels in Oxford, UK

If you love history, there’s no better place to be than Oxford. Founded by Anglo-Saxons over 1,000 years ago, Oxford soon became home to the most learned monks and teachers in England, leading to the founding of Oxford’s earliest university colleges in the 12th century.

Stroll through Christ Church’s deer-laden grounds, take a tour of the ancient Bodleian Library, and learn all about university life through the ages on a visit to Magdalen College or All Souls. Explore the archaeological collections held within the Ashmolean Museum (one of the oldest museums in the world) and the curious natural history and anthropological galleries of the Pitt Rivers Museum

Oxford is located on the confluence of the River Thames and River Cherwell. The Thames is perfect for long riverside walks or cruises, while the tributaries of the Cherwell are made for punting, one of Oxford’s most iconic pastimes. 

Take a day trip to the Cotswolds, visit Beaumont Palace (home of the Churchill family), and hang out in some of England’s oldest pubs (try The Bear or the Turf Tavern). If you’re planning a trip to England’s most historic city, then keep reading as we explain where to stay in Oxford! 

Where to Stay in Oxford

Where to Stay in Oxford, England: Best Boutique Hotels

We love Oxford for its quirky boutique retreats and historic hotels. Few other cities in England have such a prestigious past as this, and the hotels in Oxford come up big in terms of history, character, and backstory. 

First-time visitors will want to stay in the city center, where the best hotels are hidden among the colleges of Oxford University. You can stay in 17th-century parsonages next to medieval churches, while old banks on the High Street have been transformed into luxury boutique hotels. 

By Oxford’s Motte and Bailey Castle, you can stay in jail cells that once held convicted criminals, or you can opt for modern hotels that rise in contemporary fashion above the church spires. Escape the city with a stay in villages like Cumnor or Burcot, where centuries-old pubs offer rooms and lodging alongside some of the best cuisine in the Cotswolds. 

With so many places to stay in Oxford, it’s always difficult to narrow down your options. That’s why we’ve created our list of the 12 best hotels in Oxford for you! 


The 12 Best Hotels in Oxford, England

1. The Randolph Hotel

Cool Hotels in Oxford, England: The Randolph Hotel
Photos: The Randolph Hotel

One of the coolest boutique hotels in Oxford is The Randolph Hotel, a timeless five-star hotel that offers history and luxury in equal measure. This classic Oxford establishment dates back to 1866 when it first opened its elegant doors on the corner of Beaumont Street and Magdalen Street to well-to-do Victorian travelers of the day. 

Centrally located, the hotel was designed in a Gothic style that emulates the nearby Oxford colleges. The hotel was named after Dr. Francis Randolph, who donated large sums of money to Oxford University and funded the Randolph Gallery at the Ashmolean Museum (which can be visited around the corner from the hotel). 

The Randolph Hotel led a fine five-star life until 2015, when a tragic fire broke out in the kitchens, damaging the old building irrevocably. A concerted effort saved the hotel, though, and it’s since reopened after a massive refurbishment project. Step into the lobby and you’ll feel as if you’re graduating from Oxford University – gothic columns rise toward vaulted ceilings while colorful heraldic symbols hang from the walls. 

Luxury rooms at The Randolph Hotel are a tapestry of old-world designs, with floral wallpaper, Victorian windows, and antique furnishings creating the look of an Oxford academic’s night room. You can plan your sightseeing itinerary with afternoon tea in the elegant Drawing Room, where dusty tomes are stacked on creaking bookshelves, and black and white photographs of Victorian aristocrats and Oxford alumni add a sense of nostalgia to proceedings. 

The Morse Bar is named for “Inspector Morse,” a classic British detective show that was regularly filmed in the hotel, while cocktails are served in the art-deco-inspired surrounds of The Snug. The Randolph Hotel’s Wellness Suite features massage rooms, a sauna, a steam room, and whirlpools, while The Alice offers all-day dining, with classic dishes like Fish and Chips and the Randolph Burger coming highly recommended. 


2. Old Bank Hotel

Unique Oxford Hotels: Old Bank Hotel
Photos: Old Bank Hotel

You’ll find the Old Bank Hotel in an unbeatable location between No. 92 and No. 94 High Street, where 43 luxury rooms occupy a space with a history that’s been traced all the way back to the 13th century. Immerse yourself in Oxford’s past as you stay just steps away from Merton College, Radcliffe Camera, Christ Church College, and All Souls College, to name just a few of the sights on your doorstep. 

This building was once owned by the monks of Osney Abbey until Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in the 16th century. Christ Church College took over the buildings, and they were variously used by drapers and mercers until a bank was founded here in the 18th century. 

In the late 20th century, the heritage-listed buildings were transformed into a five-star hotel under the guidance of Jeremy Mogford, a British entrepreneur who made a habit of acquiring old premises and converting them into boutique hotels and restaurants while remaining faithful to their storied histories. 

Mogford did a masterful job with the Old Bank Hotel, and you’ll love how the interiors reach back through centuries of history while firmly remaining rooted in present luxuries. Rooms are beautifully designed, and each is decorated with artwork taken from Mogford’s private collection, with a handmade Epoc bed, Egyptian cotton bedding, bespoke leather writing desk, and a Carrara marble bathroom as standard.

We recommend going all out and securing a reservation at the fabled Room with a View. This is literally a one-of-a-kind rooftop bedroom with a private terrace overlooking the dreamy spires of Oxford. Down on the ground floor, you can take afternoon tea in the Quod’s terrace garden, while lunch and dinner are served under the fine-dining restaurant’s marvelous Georgian windows.

Check Prices & Availability on Booking.com


3. Leonardo Royal Hotel Oxford

Best Hotels in Oxford, England: Leonardo Royal Hotel Oxford
Photos: Leonardo Royal Hotel Oxford

Oxford’s medieval streets are made for walkers, while the narrow lanes often ring with the sound of bicycle bells. This isn’t a city that’s made for vehicles, so if you are driving into Oxford, we recommend booking a hotel on the outskirts. That’s where the Leonardo Royal Hotel Oxford comes into its own, with a vehicle-friendly location by the Pear Tree Park and Ride on the northern edge of the city. 

The Leonardo Royal Hotel Oxford is a modern four-star establishment, too, with a range of amenities you just can’t fit into the historic yet cozy hotels you’ll find in the city center. The hotel features a fully equipped gym, sauna, steam room, and a heated indoor pool where you can unwind all year round. 

Luxury rooms are designed with modern decor and functionality in mind. Bathrooms offer walk-in showers and heated mirrors, while the Leonardo DREAM bed systems are literally a dream to sink back into after a day of sightseeing in Oxford. Catch up on your favorite shows using the Chromecast televisions, or enjoy a glass of wine and a supreme cut of meat in the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill.


4. Cotswold Lodge Hotel

Oxford Boutique Hotels: Cotswold Lodge Hotel
Photos: Cotswold Lodge Hotel

If you’re looking for those quaint bed-and-breakfast vibes that are typical of family-run guesthouses in England, then you’ll find them in abundance at the Cotswold Lodge Hotel. The difference, though, is that this boutique hotel is four-star rated, with fine dining cuisine worthy of the plate of any foodie-loving traveler. 

This Oxford boutique hotel is simply charming, with 49 luxury rooms set among the converted grounds of a Victorian mansion on Banbury Road in North Oxford, just a short stroll from Jericho, Port Meadow, and University Parks. Rooms are homey, with “half-tester” beds and marble bathrooms as standard. The ultra-luxe “Feature Rooms” are all named for Oxford colleges and offer you the comforts of handmade furniture and two floors of spacious living areas. 

Breakfast is served in the light and pleasant drawing room, while afternoon tea can be taken in the courtyard (weather permitted). The star of the show is Restaurant 66A, where the AA Rosette winning kitchen (when possible) sources its produce directly from local farmers in the nearby Cotswolds. 

Starters include Poached English Asparagus, Salmon Gravadlax, and Caramalised Cauliflower Soup. Follow it up with Beer Battered Haddock, Sous Vide Loin of Lamb, or Risotto Primavera, then finish with an artisan whiskey at the bar!


5. The George Street Hotel

Where to Stay in Oxford, England: The George Street Hotel
Photos: The George Street Hotel

The George Street Hotel has one of the best locations in Oxford. Funnily enough, this luxury boutique hotel is found on George Street, where you’ll be staying right in the center of the city, just a short stroll away from Gloucester Green Town Square, the bus station, the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford Castle, and many more iconic sights. For the avid sightseers out there, this is easily one of the top boutique hotels in Oxford.

But The George Street Hotel is more than just its location. The understated townhouse facade leads to a cozy reception area where you’ll be checked into your boutique room. Budget travelers and light sleepers can opt for the “No-window” rooms, where beds are equipped with comforting Hypnos mattresses and the bathrooms are stocked with luxury L’Occitane toiletries. 

We highly recommend upgrading to the Deluxe Room, or better yet, to the ultra-luxe Superior Room with Terrace, where you’ll have a private balcony offering superb views over the center of Oxford. Again, these rooms come with luxury toiletries and Hypnos beds for a perfect night’s sleep. 


6. Malmaison Oxford

Where to Stay in Oxford, England: Malmaison Oxford
Photos: Malmaison Oxford

One of the coolest hotels in Oxford is the Malmaison. Rather uniquely – even for a city like Oxford, where hotels are steeped in history – you’ll be staying in what was once an old Victorian prison, where jail cells have been converted into luxury bedrooms packed with character. 

Don’t be scared by the intimidating facade, which was originally a castle before being turned into a prison. The prison only closed its doors in the late 1990s before being turned yet again into a luxury hotel. You’ll still find original medieval stonework throughout, while wrought iron stairwells and a prison-like layout add to the strange ambiance. 

Step through the battered door of your prison cell and you’ll be awed by the transformation. What was once a bare, empty cell now features a sumptuous king-size bed and en-suite bathroom with a monsoon shower or perhaps even a bathtub. Faux brick walls, works of art, and photographs cover old walls that once contained prisoners, while suites offer mezzanine floors with spacious living, working, and sleeping areas. 

You’re centrally located by the remains of Oxford’s old motte and bailey castle, with many a fine dining option around you, including the Malmaison Bar & Grill. Forget prison gruel – the chefs here serve up hand-cut rib eye steaks with peppercorn or bearnaise sauce alongside Malmaison favorites like Grilled Black Bream and Smoky Baby Back Ribs. 

The Malmaison mixologists will keep you occupied until the early hours of the morning as you work your way through a cocktail list that includes everything from a Negroni Classic to a Banana and Cream Piña Colada. 


7. Old Parsonage Hotel

Unique Hotels in Oxford, England: Old Parsonage Hotel
Photos: Old Parsonage Hotel

One of the best boutique hotels in Oxford is the Old Parsonage Hotel, a five-star hotel with a history dating back to the 17th century. Completed in 1660 on the orders of Edward Selwood of St. John’s College, the “Parsonage” was originally intended to be a dwelling for the clergy of St. Giles Church, which the hotel is located next to.

In fact, you’re located right in the heart of Oxford University’s campuses and historical departments, just a short stroll away from sights like the Ashmolean Museum and the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Like the many historic buildings surrounding it, the Old Parsonage Hotel was built from local Headington stone, which was the popular style of the 17th-century university boom days, when Oxford University expanded massively. 

The Old Parsonage was used as student accommodation for much of the 20th century, and the land itself is still owned by Oxford University. In 1989, Oxford hotelier Jeremey Mogford (who also owned the Old Bank Hotel) acquired the property and transformed it into a luxury boutique hotel. 

You’ll love how the history of the Old Parsonage Hotel contrasts wonderfully with the modern interiors. There are just 35 rooms and suites, each of which features a handmade bed, bespoke leather writing desk, and artwork taken from Mogford’s collection. 

The bathrooms are marbled, while the best rooms offer terraces overlooking the gardens. History fans can upgrade to either the “Winston” or “Randolph” suites, both of which are lasting tributes to the Churchill family, complete with curated busts, books, and photographs of the father and son. 

The Parsonage Grill serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner – and you’ll often bump into academics from the university – while residents have exclusive use of the Library, a relaxing space where you can select local literature to read while enjoying afternoon tea. 

Check Prices & Availability on Booking.com


8. Mercure Oxford Hawkwell House

Oxford Boutique Hotels: Mercure Oxford Hawkwell House
Photos: Mercure Oxford Hawkwell House

Escape the city center with a stay at the Mercure Oxford Hawkwell House, a refurbished 19th-century estate that’s located in Iffley Village. You’re still within walking distance of the High Street, but you’ll love the country house feel of this boutique hotel.

The Mercure Oxford Hawkwell House has 77 luxury rooms spread across several historic buildings spaced around a lovely, landscaped garden. Hawkwell House was the birthplace of polar explorer Francis Howard Bickerton, who was born here in 1889, while Elm House was once home to Major George W. Allen, a pioneering British pilot. 

The old coach house has been transformed too, and now features luxurious suites and bedrooms set apart from the rest of the hotel. Enjoy a whiskey or cocktail on the terrace and a sumptuous dinner at Frank’s at Hawkwell House, a restaurant named, of course, for the explorer.


9. Courtyard by Marriott Oxford City Centre

Best Hotels in Oxford, England: Courtyard by Marriott Oxford City Centre
Photos: Courtyard by Marriott Oxford City Centre

The Courtyard by Marriott Oxford City Centre offers modern comforts in the heart of Oxford. Characterized by its contemporary design, 151 four-star rated rooms overlook Castle Mill Stream, where the hotel’s modern architecture stands in stark contrast to the ruins of the motte and bailey castle you can see from the windows. 

Rooms are sleek and fashionable, with tall windows that let the light flood in while you’re taking in the views. King beds and ergonomic chairs provide the plush comfort you need to relax, while Chromecast televisions offer evening entertainment. 

You can explore Oxford like a local with the help of the hotel’s complimentary bicycle hire after starting the day with a full English from the Kitchen & Bar Restaurant. Best of all is the magnificent Rooftop Bar & Restaurant, where you can sip on cocktails and cold beers while enjoying views that stretch deep into the Cotswolds. 


10. Bear and Ragged Staff

Best Oxford Hotels: Bear and Ragged Staff
Photos: Bear and Ragged Staff

One of the most unique hotels in Oxford, you’ll find the Bear and Ragged Staff in Cumnor, a small village that’s a 15-minute drive from Oxford’s city center. The Bear and Ragged Staff is part pub, part quirky boutique hotel, and with a history dating back at least 450 years, you’ll love period features like the flagstone floors and ancient fireplaces (which are most welcome in winter!).

Start with a pint of local ale at the bar, where you can’t miss the carved lintels and mullioned windows that add to the pub’s historic character. Creaking staircases lead to five “Ancient” rooms on the floors above the bar, while four more rooms are located in the Old Cottages adjacent to the pub itself. Dogs are welcome, and with sustainability in mind, plastic bottles have been replaced with refillable aluminum bottles. 

The Bear and Ragged Staff’s menu is as quirky as the historic decor you’ll find in the rooms. Enjoy Padron Peppers and Halloumi Fries on the terrace, or Fish Pie, Spiced Indian Potato Patties, or Vietnamese Noodle Salad under centuries-old oaken beams in the AA Rosette-awarded restaurant. 


11. voco Oxford Thames

Where to Stay in Oxford, England: voco Oxford Thames
Photos: voco Oxford Thames

Spend the night on the verdant banks of England’s most famous river as you book a luxury stay at the voco Oxford Thames. Found in Sandford, on the southern edge of Oxford, the voco Oxford Thames is surrounded by 30 acres of landscaped grounds and steeped in a history dating back to the Knights Templar, who laid the foundations of the house as a headquarters in the 12th century AD.

While much of the history has been preserved – including oak beams and original windows – the rooms themselves offer a level of luxury that the Knights Templars could never imagine. This would be their boutique heaven, and you’ll love the contemporary style and design, the bright decor and colors, the modern artwork, custom-made beds, and deep soaking bathtubs. 

You can work out or unwind at the Riverside Health Club, which features a fully equipped gym, a heated indoor swimming pool, and a sauna. The Crusaders Bar & Lounge is the perfect spot for a pre-dinner drink, while The River Room Restaurant offers glorious views of the River Thames and an eclectic international menu.


12. The Chequers at Burcot

Best Oxford Hotels: The Chequers at Burcot
Photos: The Chequers at Burcot

Live the life of a country gent when you book a timeless room at The Chequers at Burcot. You’ll have ample time to explore the countryside, as you stay in a charming English village on the banks of the River Thames. Oxford is just a 15-minute drive to the north, but you’ll welcome the slower pace of life in Burcot when you return to The Chequers after a day of sightseeing in the city. 

The Chequers is first and foremost a pub, and there are just nine boutique rooms available to book. You’ll be surrounded by history, as the pub itself is thought to date back at least 400 years, when it was established as a coaching inn on the route from Oxford. 

Boutique rooms are located in purpose-built annexes, which are incredibly modern in design. You’ll love the space and comfort, and if you’re on a road trip, there’s more parking here than the entirety of Oxford has! 

The Chequers serves all manner of local beers, ales, wines, gins, and whiskeys, while head chef and owner Steven Sanderson has developed an award-winning menu that uses local ingredients wherever possible. On Sundays, the mammoth Roast Dinner is to die for, while during the week, you can build your own sharing boards as you choose from favorites like Scotch Eggs, Salmon Fish Cakes, and Oxford Blue Cheese.

That completes our list of the 12 best Oxford hotels! Did we miss any cool boutique hotels in Oxford? Comment below so we can add them to the list!


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Author

  • Richard Collett

    Richard is an award-winning travel writer based in Southwest England who’s addicted to traveling off the beaten track. He’s traveled to 75 countries and counting in search of intriguing stories, unusual destinations, and cultural curiosities.

    Richard loves traveling the long way round over land and sea, and you’ll find him visiting quirky micronations and breakaway territories as often as he’s found lounging on a beach (which is a lot).

    When he’s not writing for BBC Travel, National Geographic, or Lonely Planet, you can find Richard writing for the Wandering Wheatleys or updating his off-beat travel blog, Travel Tramp.

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