I just got back from a magical eight days in England. My little family and I decided to make it a family trip to coincide with our daughter’s start at Oxford. She’s studying there for the semester and none of us had ever been. (We spent Christmas in London first but more about that later.)
What a great time we had and how beautiful is Oxford. Even better was the delightful Old Bank Hotel where we stayed (thanks, Maggie J. at KK Travels Worldwide for setting it up for us). We immediately fell in love with it and its sister hotel, the Old Parsonage Hotel.
The Old Bank is located right on High Street and our room had a gorgeous view of Oxford’s oldest church, University Church St. Mary the Virgin. But even more fun to oogle was the hotel’s spectacular art collection, curated by its owner and hotelier extraordinaire, Jeremy Mogford. I wasn’t able to find out much about his collection but all the guest rooms and common spaces have the most marvelous contemporary art. (Sorry the photos of the art aren’t all that fabulous – I couldn’t find many of them online so I had to use my little iPhone.)
And at night, with lots of sparkly lights:
The art scene got even better when we headed over to the Old Bank’s sister hotel, the Old Parsonage Hotel, for New Year’s Eve dinner. This is a 1600’s building, oozing with all kinds of charm, character and history – and it had me from the minute I walked in the door. There was a crackling fire, the walls were a dark gray blue and there were twinkling little lights and evergreens everywhere. And the paintings! They were all portraits – and, as the Huff’ingtons know very well, I’m obsessed with portraits.
Here are some of the other pieces that had me salivating:
I ended going back over the next day to find out more about these exquisite pieces and found out that many of them had been acquired at auctions and from private collections but I never was able to find out anything about the artists.
So, my takeaway? Sheets, room service and a lovely experience are all essential for a good hotel stay, but a beautifully curated collection of original art add such personality – and sometimes that’s hard to find. Do you have a favorite art hotel? We’d love to know!
PS: our visit to London was also exceptional, although the hotel didn’t have the same kind of art as the Old Bank. We compensated with a trip to the National Portrait Gallery, one of my very favorite museums in the world. Every wall is brimming with portraits and I love seeing the ones painted 300 years ago that look exactly like somebody you just saw at the grocery store or at the bank.