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Best hotels in Oxford 2023: Explore the university city

Best hotels in Oxford 2023: Explore the university city

“Where’s the university?” people ask when they first visit Oxford. Truth is, it’s all around you, with 39 colleges scattered about the city – just follow those dreaming spires made famous by Victorian poet Matthew Arnold.

In the same way, the best hotels in this round-up may not be the most obvious ones – this is a city bursting with small, period properties. Some are slap-bang in the heart of the things, while others are a short bus ride from the centre. But all have their own unique charms – from slick interiors hidden behind grand 18th-century facades to mullion-windowed coaching inns and romantic cottage-style boltholes.

Don’t dismiss the surrounding villages, either, which are not only gorgeous but home to superb hotels, too, including high-class country pads complete with Michelin-starred food. Staying the weekend? Do one night in town and one night outside it, for an added Cotswoldy vibe. Wherever you choose to stay, make sure you leave plenty of time to explore one of England’s most beautiful cities.

Neighbourhood: City Centre

Stay in a former prison at Malmaison


Sure, a night in the cells isn’t to everyone’s taste, but for those who don’t scare easily, this is hands down Oxford’s most atmospheric hotel.

Homed in a former prison, this hotel is somewhere you’d happily serve your time – from the Governor’s House and the House of Correction to A wing (the most Instagrammable one), where each room sprawls across three former cells. From here, the access corridor is the real jail wing – an open hangar of a place, with the original cell doors still in place and metal steps and walkways threading through the air.