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A quick search on the internet revealed a good dozen of spa packages being offered by various hotels and resorts. We found one offered by Oxford Hotel and thought it would be a nice weekend away for us from home. The Spa Package included a 3 course dinner, Vitamin Glow Facial, Aromatherapy massage and 2 night stay. This was perfect for my other half and I.
The room was small and cosy, with an attached bathroom with shower and bath tub. The basic amenities – shampoo, shower gel and body lotion were provided in the bathroom. I needed a disposable shaver and room services quickly provided me with one when requested. There was a hair dryer and trouser press provided too. There is no fridge in the room so if you want chilled drinks, you have to go to their bar at the reception to get it. Unlike some hotels around UK, the temperature can be adjusted to your own liking. The room was really cold when we first entered and the thermostat did well to warm up the room.
I felt that the 3 course dinner met expectations. There was a good variety of choices available. Of particular note was the chicken Roulade and the Guinea Fowl which was really good. The preparation was very complicated and the presentation impressed us. Initially we read many online reviews warning us about the portions, which we prepared ourselves for. However at the end of the dinner, my other half and I agreed that we were fully stuffed contrary to what was described. My guess is that the menu was updated as of January 2014, which probably had bigger portions. One of the comments I have on the dinner is that the menu showed an extensive selection but a few of the options required an add on. For example, the steak required an addition of £6.95 which basically meant that we had to pay extra on top of the dinner which was already included in the package. This was a little annoying as that meant we had to fork out more money. Another comment I have is that they could be a little understaffed as I felt that not enough attention was paid and at times we could not find any waiter for additional requests like water or anything else. When one of the waiters was serving us, his phone rang and it turned out that he was the duty room service personnel. That meant that he was juggling as both a waiter and a room service personnel. Breakfast is served in the same restaurant in the morning. There is a decent variety of continental food – cheese, bread, ham, mushrooms, scrambled and fried eggs, sausages, black pudding, oats, cereal and fruit. One of the things which ran out really quickly was the ham which we left us a little disappointed because the kitchen runs out of it and as a result the ham platter is not topped up.
We had full access to the facilities, however some of them required booking in advanced. The gym and the pool were available but the pool was a little small. Had there been a good 5-6 persons it would have already looked crowded. The squash courts also need to be booked in advanced as many non-hotel guests had already booked it for their own use. The facilities are not exclusive to just hotel guests.
This hotel is not to be mistaken with the Royal Oxford Hotel which is in the city centre. The Oxford Hotel is at Godstow road which is about 10min away by taxi from the Oxford train station, or about 15-20min away from the city centre by bus. Bus number 6 takes you to the city centre at the cost of £2 per person single trip, or £3.20 return trip. The bus comes at 15min intervals on weekdays and 30min intervals on Sundays.
One of the improvements we thought could have been made is the spa treatments. Although we had booked the hotel package 2 months in advanced, there were already limited timeslots for the spa treatment for the period we were going to be there for. The only timeslots given were in fact not within the period we were staying there for. After emailing the manager, we could settle for the only evening time slot which was available once we arrived there. The booking of spa treatments should be reserved for guests who have booked spa packages as part of the hotel stay. Imagine paying for a spa package only to be turned away by the reservation hotline that the spa timeslots are all full. I’m not sure how the rest of the guests who paid spa packages after I had would have made spa treatment reservations. When we arrived at the hotel, we were told that there was a mistake for our reservation for the spa. We had both the vitamin glow facial and aromatherapy message booked, but apparently what was booked in their system was my other half doing the aromatherapy and myself the facial, which was not what I had booked. In the package offer, both the massage and facial was part of the package and not for us to choose between the 2. As we only had one hour booked, we both did the massage and had to find another timeslot for the facial. In the end, the only timeslot left was after we had to check out, which spoilt the experience a little as we expected to be able to do everything within the time frame we were at the hotel.
Another improvement, although minor is the newspapers that were offered at the reception during check in. During check in we were asked if we wanted newspapers. We were given a selection to choose from and we chose what we wanted. On the day of check out, we received an invoice from under the door charging us for the newspapers! I approached the reception and only then did I know that the newspapers were chargeable. If I had known this, I wouldn’t even have requested for the papers. I feel that all costs should be made clear to the customer instead of receiving a rude shock for a bill that we are not aware of. The cost for 2 newspapers is not high, so I paid for it when we left. If it was something that was more expensive, then I would certainly have been shocked on being charged for something I didn’t ask for.
An overall good stay but its policy needs some fine tuning to improve certain services and standards of what other similar hotels are providing. Other than that we had a good stay.