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“One of the worst meals we have ever eaten in Oxford” 1 of 5 bubbles
Review of Vanbrugh House Hotel

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Vanbrugh House Hotel
Ranked #3 of 44 Hotels in Oxford
Certificate of Excellence
Oxford, United Kingdom
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“One of the worst meals we have ever eaten in Oxford”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 23 December 2012

We booked a table for two having looked at the menu online and being locals we are always on the lookout for somewhere new to eat out.

Oh dear! The first warning sign was when mentioning that we had a booking that they knew us by name even though we had never been there before. Indeed we were the only ones in the restaurant that night and it's the only time I have been grateful for piped music.

We ordered rack of lamb with a herb crust and plain burger and fries. What a disappointment. The burger was not freshly made and resembled a frozen Dales Steak and had no discernable flavour; the lamb was tasteless with what can only be described as fine dust with herbs on top with a very strange rather artifical flavour - it was nothing like a herb crust. Honestly one of the worst meals we have ever eaten in Oxford. We'd suggest scrapping the restaurant all together and replacing it with a bar serving simple bar meals or at least getting in a chef with some drive and imagination to produce a short, simple menu based on good fresh local ingredients. All in all a very dismal and depressing experience and very over priced too. We won't be returning or recommending this hotel to anyone based on this experience.

  • Stayed December 2012, travelled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank elsie_6355
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Vanbrugh House H, General Manager at Vanbrugh House Hotel, responded to this review, 29 December 2012
Dear Elsie _6355,

Thank you for your comment and for taking the time to talk with one of the owners as a you were leaving the hotel. I am sorry that we were unable to meet your expectations when you dined with us, but we do appreciate your feedback as this helps us refine our menu and service. Please accept my apologies for your disappointment.
In terms of recognising guests by their name, this is something that we promote and should not have been taken as a warning sign!
Following on from your comments we have reviewed the burger that we are serving and have changed to an alternative butchers and comments to date have been very positive.
We are in the process of reviewing our menu content now that we have been open for a month and have been able to ascertain what meets the needs of our hotel and local guests. We have focused on offering a variety of local and international dishes. As mentioned we would like the opportunity of Welcoming you back to try the new dishes and will be in contact with you.
Kind regards
Colin Rice
General Manager
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626 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (164)
Date | Rating
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  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
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English first
Oxford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
154 reviews
62 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 142 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 December 2012

The location of this hotel is fantastic, just off the main shopping street in Oxford. It is right in the heart of the action.

This hotel has been created by renovating previously unoccupied buildings and as such whoever did the conversion was constrained by building itself. That said they have done a very good job and the finish is also excellent. We stayed in the Link Room and thought it was a lovely room and very well decorated. I heard that some of the rooms could be described as Bijoux, however if they have done this in the same style, you should not be disappointed. Some really nice touches such as complementary water, coke and crisps in the fridge and the excitement of real milk to have a cup of tea. Free Wifi throughout and this worked in every room, even in the basement. We had a really restful sleep and could not fault the room itself.

So our disappointment really was down to the service, which was such as shame as the duty manager was trying so very hard. He however cannot run a hotel by himself and would benefit from the help of this staff who clearly wanted to be elsewhere (especially in the breakfast room). The night before our stay we were called at 11pm to check we were going to be arriving the next day which was a bit late in the day to be calling unless there was an emergency. We did get an apology and a drink to make up for this and when returning late and asking for a cheeseboard the manager did persuade the chef to do this because of the late night phone call. The cheeseboard was excellent and can be recommended.

We thought that we had ordered breakfast to be delivered to our room and handed this to the receptionist to ensure that we had done it all correctly. It seems that we didn't as the breakfast did not arrive and when we rang down to find out why we were told we had filled out the form incorrectly (clearly giving it to the receptionist made absolutely no difference). The poor manager apologised again and got us seated again for breakfast. The staff in the breakfast room had a distain for their patrons rarely seen in the leisure industry putting down dirty plates and cups, not cleaning tables before setting them again and not coming over to take orders until you were totally starving. If you order toast - you may or may not get it, alas we were not so fortunate. The sausage also was not cooked - but I did not risk sending it back and just left it.

We ended up comparing the hotel to faulty towers. If they can get some staff with the caliber of the manager to help the poor guy out, then they will have a cracking little hotel.

  • Stayed December 2012, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank cherylhinton
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Vanbrugh House H, General Manager at Vanbrugh House Hotel, responded to this review, 18 December 2012
Thank you for posting your comments following your recent stay at the Vanbrugh House Hotel. I was really pleased to see your great comments regarding the very central location of the hotel and the special extras and touches like complimentary welcome snack mini bar and the individual design of each of the rooms. Fresh milk in the rooms is valued by many of our guests. Thank you also for your positive view on the duty manager.
I was concerned to read your comments regarding breakfast service and I must apologise for the breakdown in communication that lead to the non-delivery of your room service breakfast, and the lapses that occurred in the restaurant area. I have completed a review and training with the staff involved to ensure that we have learned fully from the situation and have put further procedures in place to prevent future occurrences.
I really do appreciate your comments as we do care very much for our guests and want to ensure that all who visit the hotel have a great experience.
Colin Rice
General Manager
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france
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 11 December 2012

This hotel enjoys a great location, near the bus station, the main shopping areas and colleges. The hotel had just opened when I stayed there and there were obviously some teething problems (various plumbing issues, no till in the restaurant, no information, price list or menu in room). Staff were friendly and helpful but clearly working in very challenging conditions. Great effort has obviously been put into the interior decor,and there are some nice touches like the kettle and ironing board in the room and free tea and coffee, biscuits and milk.However, there are some basic architectural problems which should , but may be be difficult, to resolve.
There is no proper reception area ( counter, desk) as one would expect in any hotel with a computer, till,information brochures, place to hang keys etc. Instead the reception formalities are conducted in the drawing room, which is considerably smaller than one imagines when reading the website so I was never tempted by the afternoon tea advertised. The vaults brasserie which serves as a bar, dining and breakfast room is tiny and cold and damp to boot. They should have kept it as a cellar.The 4 usable tables ( I won't count the two in the alcove which were never set ) are so small and unstable that staff actually had difficulty serving food. There is no room to lay out a buffet of drinks, cereals, bread, cheese, jams and pastries as one would expect from a four star hotel . The rooms had a selection of tea bags that for some reason were not available in the brasserie and cappuccinos had to be fetched from the drawing room upstairs.
There is no lift, so suitcases have to be carried up several flights of stairs. The corridors and staircases are so narrow that two people have difficulty passing each other. To me it seemed more like an upmarket Bed and Breakfast, although they never got my breakfast order right once ...
If the hotel wants to remain competitive in the four star market, it should consider converting some of the 22 rooms and suites into a drawing room , larger dining room and proper reception area. This would make things easier for staff and customers alike. The room I had was small and cosy although it was not the room I had booked and I didn't see any other rooms. Also, for two days in a row they forgot to clean the room although we left it vacant most of the day and the satellite television didn't work very well. Apart from that everything was fine and dandy ...

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  • Stayed December 2012, travelled on business
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank scottyFrance
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Vanbrugh House H, General Manager at Vanbrugh House Hotel, responded to this review, 18 December 2012
Thank you for staying with us during our opening week and for your kind comments. Although I was concerned to read about some issues you encountered during your stay, please accept my apologies for these lapses. We are always striving to ensure that each guest has an excellent stay.
I was sorry to hear that you were disappointed with the relaxed informality of the reception in the drawing room. The two main buildings that make up the hotel are both listed and as such we have worked very closely with the Conservation Officer , as a Hotel with two upper levels the addition of a lift was not allowed. Our staff are only too happy to assist with any luggage or allocate a bedroom on the ground floor. I apologise if this was not the case. Vanbrugh Vaults had an issue with water ingress during one weekend and I am sorry that this did inconvenience you. This has been addressed and the room is warm and welcoming. An initial problem with the TV channel functionality has been corrected. I am currently investigating to ascertain the problem you encountered regarding the incorrect allocation of your room and it’s cleaning. At Vanbrugh House hotel we take pride that our guests can individually choose their bedroom or suite
I would really appreciate the opportunity of talking through your comments and welcoming you back to the hotel.
Colin Rice
General Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cambridge
Level Contributor
368 reviews
84 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 186 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 December 2012

We stayed at the Vanbrugh House Hotel in the week it opened. It's a beautiful building partly designed by John Vanbrugh the architect of Blenheim Palace . It's very central being just off Cornmarket Street, no parking as is typical for central Oxford. We took the park and ride and alighted a few minutes' walk away. The hotel will also help you with nearby car parks if you prefer.

The building had lain unused for over a decade and has been beautifully restored. The first room you see is a traditional reception room with the check-in girl using a laptop perched on an occasional table. It was good to sit on sofas while the formalities were dealt with, and just as well as they were struggling with new procedures and IT problems. We were soon our way to our room which was very well appointed with a big comfy bed and bathroom with walk-in shower. The TV had a good choice of programmes including radio - hurrah could listen to radio 4 in the morning.

Breakfast was served in the cellars yet well provided with natural light as there is a sunken terrace outside which will be a lovely spot for drink or food once the weather warms up. A great range of options for breakfast all cooked to order. I was pleased to see the full vegetarian option and my eggs were done just as I'd requested them.

The hotel is suffering from various glitches, the check in as above and missing signage eg our room had a step on entry which I fell on the first time (no warning sign except once you were already in the room) and no explanation as to how to make the heating controls work. We just switched the radiator on or off when we needed it. We asked various staff when breakfast was and received different wrong answers (no info in the room). Nice touches such as fresh milk in the mini fridge for making decent tea.

When we left we were thanked for staying there but somehow I expected a little more - perhaps asking our views especially as they'd been open but a few days. Overall, a lovely find and we'll definitely stay here again. So long as they maintain their high standards of accommodation and get over their teething troubles this could soon be a top spot.

  • Stayed November 2012, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank CultureVultureCamb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Vanbrugh House H, General Manager at Vanbrugh House Hotel, responded to this review, 18 December 2012
Firstly thank you for being one of the first of our guests to stay at the Vanbrugh House Hotel and for your great comments regarding the very well-appointed rooms, comfy bed and walk in showers and our great range of breakfast options.
We apologise for the teething problems which you encountered. We have addressed the issue of signage and have instructions in each of the rooms relating to the heating controls. In addition, when taking guests to their rooms, our staff are confirming how each of the individual heating controls work.
Thank you again for your taking the time to review our hotel, we do look forward to welcoming you back soon.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Vanbrugh House Hotel

Property: Vanbrugh House Hotel
Address: Vanburgh House 20-24 St. Michaels Street, Oxford OX1 2EB, England
Phone Number:
Region: United Kingdom > England > Oxfordshire > Oxford
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 44 Hotels in Oxford
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Vanbrugh House Hotel 3.5*
Number of rooms: 22
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