Nick Gilmartin's Weblog

And he used to be such a nice, quiet boy

The best hotels in Oxfordshire

with 2 comments


I live in a county that is relatively affluent with plenty to see and do and is well worth a visit. The city of Oxford has plenty of sites worth seeing, even if you don’t like universities.

But for the best places to stay for a sneaky weekend away just follow me.

Morse Bar

The first place would be the Macdonald Randolph hotel, located in central Oxford. This Victorian-era hotel has 151 bedrooms and two AA Rosettes for it’s food. If the bar area looks somehow familiar there is a good reason – it was used many times in the series Inspector Morse, and it’s follow up, Lewis.


The hotel has the grandest restaurant in Oxford city centre, the place just looks magnificent, with friezes and crests all around. It is popular with politicians and business people. They have a choice of A la Carte or Table du Hote menus and a truly fantastic wine list. They even do flambé bananas at the table for you. Quick, book before Health and Safety ban it.


For the ladies they have a spa serving up many wonderful treatments including Swedish massage or hot stone massage.. Their thermal suite has it’s own sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi, ice fountain and ‘sensational’ shower (does that mean very cold?).

The rooms themselves are tasteful, well appointed and spotlessly clean. You have a choice of classic room, executive suite or four poster bed room. The latter also have extra room for children in fold out beds.

La manoir

Further away from the city centre you have a hotel that is a gastronaut’s delight. Le Manoir au Quat Saisons is Raymond Blanc’s flagship hotel, deep in the heart of rural Oxfordshire. Now in a French run restaurant you would expect five star service and exceptional food and wine. And believe me, Raymond Blanc never disappoints.

manoir restaurant

This is the hotel that grows most of it’s own produce, from vegetables to herbs. Raymond even does his own cookery demonstration days for his honoured guests. The Manoir’s calendar of events for the coming season includes Ruinart champagne courses, herb growing courses, and talks by such luminaries as Johnny Walker, DJ, and Mr Blanc himself. Tickets are selling fast.


The rooms of the Manoir are lavish and intricate, and amazingly tasteful. The superior rooms have their own individual design theme. One, called Opium, is Oriental in feel, complete with it’s own Japanese garden.

Le Manoir just oozes taste and sophistication.

Shall I call the Butlaaahhh!!?

Shall I call the Butler?

The Crazy Bear is one of Oxford’s best kept secrets, and I fear that this may be it’s downfall. It is hard to find but when you do find it, you will be blown away. The Crazy Bear, is as it’s name suggests, a bit crazy. In fact the guy who designed the place must have been completely nuts – in a good way. He must have laughed at the hotel experts that told him it would never work. Somebody obviously had a lot of fun putting the place together. If I had to sum the Crazy Bear up in one word it would be fun. Nothing is what you would expect. The reception desk is set on a double decker bus. You half expect Reg Varney on the desk and inspector Blake to carry your bags.

Crazy Bar

Inside the hotel it is like Alice in Wonderland. The low bar ceiling has it’s own chandelier and a huge stuffed bear that looked like it was about to come alive and eat me. To get to the award winning Thai restaurant you had to go down a small door that led downstairs. Inside it was decorated in a wondrous Eastern style. Their Thai menu has won international awards, including the Thailand equivalent of the Mitchelin star. Their food is truly a work of art.

Crazy bar 2

The bar has an amazing range of cocktails, wines and spirits. It is a bit small though and the plates and glasses already on the table does clutter them up a bit, in my opinion.

This bedroom just screams out Rock star sex!

This bedroom just screams out Rock star sex!

The rooms are just amazing. Believe me, this is the place to take a girl on your first weekend away together. In total there are only 18 rooms and each is a bespoke suite. One of their most famous features is a bath at the foot of your bed. This must be quite a time saver on a sleepy morning. You can run a bath without even getting out of bed, then when it is ready you just flop in.

Crazy Room

Oddly enough some of the suites are named after types of cigar, ironic since you cannot smoke indoors anymore. But they are fantastically decorated, you would think somebody from changing rooms had been in there.

Would I stay there? Definitely.


Written by Nick Gilmartin

June 4, 2009 at 1:00 pm

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. A Fantastic blog post, I will bookmark this in my Reddit account. Have a awesome day.

    Taylor Dejoseph

    June 14, 2010 at 5:44 am

  2. I WANT TO LIVE IN THE CRAZY BAR… OMG… it is so amazing… like Alice in Wonderland kinda. It is by far one of the coolest hotels that I have EVER seen!


    August 2, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: