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Staying in a stately English country house seems like it should cost a fortune. At this beautiful hotel outside of Oxford, England, however, that’s definitely not the case. Restored and updated with modern decor, two levels of accommodation to suit your budget, and excellent food, Eynsham Hall is the ultimate place to stay for an authentic -- and affordable -- Oxford experience.
- On the grounds: Value (under $150/night)
- In the main hall: Upscale ($150-$300/night)
Lodging Type: Medium-Size Hotel (50-100 rooms)
What You Need to Know
Set on sprawling grounds in the English countryside about 12 miles outside of Oxford, this estate house fulfills all of your Downton Abbey fantasies, right up to the topiary-filled gardens and carved stone fireplaces. It doesn’t, however, feel old fashioned. Updated rooms in the main hall put a plush, contemporary spin on country house style, while rooms on the grounds are simply furnished and comfortable.
Couples looking for a romantic weekend in the country fill Eynsham Hall, as do brides-and-grooms-to-be and their wedding guests. This creates a mood that feels alternately festive and relaxed, and the sense of quiet that pervades the grounds is only interrupted by the occasional chirping bird or rustling squirrel.
Who Will Love It
Those in search of am escape from the noisy city, or just the hassles of every day life will enjoy otherworldly Eynsham Hall. It also makes a very good base for exploring the picturesque towns of the Cotswolds, plus Oxford itself.
Who Might Not
If you want to be in the thick of the action, Eynsham Hall isn’t for you. Oxford is a 30-minute drive away, so if you need party-packed nightlife at your doorstep, you won’t find it here.
The main hall itself is a lesson in how to combine Victorian-era style (tufted sofas, well-placed antique dishware) with contemporary flair (neon above the fireplace). Plus, it’s home to a brasserie that’s situated in what was once the home’s billiard room, and The Gun Room, an antler-bedecked bar that serves small and shareable plates. Try locally sourced charcuterie, farm cheese, and the house-smoked salmon.
Just the room is included in the base rate. You’ll also get wifi. Rooms in the main hall are larger, feature expansive views of the grounds, and feel distinctly more luxurious than the bare-bones rooms on the grounds.
Fees and Extra Costs You Should Know About
You can add a full English breakfast for 12.95 pounds (about $17) per person. Note that if you’re not renting a car -- a challenge this far outside of Oxford -- you’ll need to factor transportation costs into your budget.
How to Get a Deal
Off-season (fall, winter, and early spring) rates are a bargain, with rooms on the grounds going for less than $100 per night, and in the main hall for about $150. Booking early -- at least 21 days before arrival -- will save you 10 percent, and always check the hotel’s web site for other special offers.
In the Neighborhood
Eynsham Hall is just a 15-minute drive to Blenheim Palace, a UNESO World Heritage Site and the birthplace of Winston Churchill. The baroque palace and its park are open daily for tours, or you can explore on your own. The hotel is also an easy drive to some of the prettiest towns in the Cotswolds, including Burford (18 minutes), Bibury (30 minutes), and Stow-on-the-Wold (30 minutes).
Nearest Airport and Public Transport
There’s no air connection to Oxford, so you’ll need to land in London and travel overland to the area. If you’re not staying in London, you can take an easy, relatively inexpensive bus directly to Oxford from terminal 5 at London’s Heathrow Airport. The ride takes 90 minutes, and costs 30 pounds round-trip (about $48). Otherwise, there are many trains that travel daily to Oxford from London city center. From Oxford, you’ll need to either take a taxi (about $30 each way) to Eynsham Hall, or take a local train to Hanborough station, which is about 3 miles from Eynsham Hall. Walking this 3-mile final stretch isn’t possible, so be sure to arrange a taxi pickup with the hotel beforehand. You may not find taxis waiting at rural Hanborough station when your train arrives.
The Bottom Line
For a quintessential stay in the English countryside -- with a distinctly modern sensibility -- this is a great choice.