Created to a vision of contemporary luxury in historic surroundings, the Old Bank has existed in its present incarnation since 2000, prior to which it was for many years a Barclays bank. The main buildings date from the eighteenth century, but the history of the site can be traced back to medieval times, and the rooms are designed and decorated with sympathy to the original structure. Our attic room was beautiful: with exposed struts and an unparalleled view over All Souls and Radcliffe Square, and was elegantly yet unobtrusively decorated in creams and blues, suede and velvet. Featured in various publications on ‘hip’ places to stay, the hotel also houses owner Jeremy Mogford’s collection of contemporary art, so the room contained a couple of conversation-starting pieces, which we happily disagreed on.
Prices are high (though not out of the ordinary for a luxury establishment in this part of the world), ranging from £175 for a double to £325 for a suite, but untold pains are taken to ensure that your stay is worth the money. Anyone who has ever worked in hospitality knows what a stressful and often frustrating job it can be; the staff here are polite, helpful and very polished. With impeccable housekeeping, Molton Brown shower gel in the bathroom and even an umbrella in the wardrobe, there was also a list of available extras to take your breath away, from babysitting to picnic hampers and beauty treatments, though this being Oxford I think most people would probably settle for the unexpectedly ample parking. Plans to extend the conference facilities in the near future should also see the hotel getting a well-deserved slice of the Oxford corporate pie. I did wonder if there’s perhaps such a thing as too much attention to detail - we couldn’t decide whether the classical radio playing when we arrived in the room was a sweet touch or a step too far.
Quod, the attached restaurant, is reliable and high quality with a gently bustling atmosphere. The cocktails we tried (Cucumber Martini and Wild Lemonade) were pretty good too. Breakfast, not included in the room rate, consists of a well-presented and comprehensive continental buffet, with various cooked options available. We succumbed to the temptation of bacon and egg rolls (generous), but not being used to much more than toast at that hour, we guiltily failed to finish them, to the discreet consternation of our waitress.
Staying at The Old Bank is a lovely experience, extravagant yet not ostentatious, with every possible comfort a phone call away. The staff are efficient and on the ball at eight o’clock in the morning and quarter to midnight, and the beauties of Oxford centre right on your doorstep. What more could you want?