Where to get ready for your Oxford wedding
Oxford is, in my ever so slightly biased opinion, the best city in the world for weddings. It’s romantic, it’s quaint and it’s full of beautiful, historical buildings as well as tranquil green spaces. I’ve been shooting weddings here – and living here – for the past twelve years so have come to know the city and its many hotels and wedding venues very well.
One of the questions I’m asked the most by couples is where would I recommend for them to get ready on the morning of their wedding – and where to spend their first night as a married couple. It’s a big decision, you want somewhere calming and spacious to get ready ahead of your wedding ceremony and also somewhere romantic and luxurious for you to spend the night of your wedding. I’ve finally got around to putting pen to paper (or, fingers to keyboard!) to highlight my top picks of Oxford hotels and places to stay.
Before I start my list it’s worth adding that if your wedding is taking place in the centre of Oxford then I’d recommend staying in one of the many beautiful hotels right in the heart of the city. You’ll not only have the option of walking to your wedding ceremony but you’ll also easily be able to stumble back once the festivities are over!
Here are some of my favourite places to get ready in Oxford.
Vanbrugh House Hotel is the most perfect small boutique hotel. It’s tucked away on a picturesque side street, not far from Oxford’s main street. The Grade II listed building is full of character and no two bedrooms are the same. The interior decor is super stylish and contemporary and I have it on very good authority that their breakfast is excellent!
For a romantic start to your marriage book the Vicarage Suite which boasts two vintage slipper baths, the perfect way to unwind together after all that wedding planning!
I love the Randolph. It can be found right in the centre of town and is only a short walk from most of the colleges and wedding venues in Oxford. The hotel pays homage to the University and its alumni, including Oscar Wilde and Lewis Carroll. Collegiate shields hang in reception and each of the luxurious bedrooms contains a little nod to Oxford and its history.
If you want to splash out – and why not, it’s your wedding! – then stay in the Royal Suite which has ample space for getting ready in and huge windows looking out over Martyr’s Memorial.
Another hotel within walking distance of the Colleges and Town Hall is Old Bank Hotel. A former bank, the building has been extensively renovated and refurbished into a five star hotel in a prime location on Oxford’s high street.
Each of the 43 luxurious bedrooms can boast incredible views of the city and the iconic Radcliffe Camera and Bodleian Library are just opposite. It goes without saying that the Old Bank is within easy walking distance of Oxford’s landmarks, weddings venues and Town Hall.
Alternatively you could hold your entire wedding day there as the Old Bank holds a wedding licence for civil ceremonies and is perfect for small wedding receptions.
A huge bonus of the Old Parsonage Hotel is that it has parking. Regular visitors to Oxford will know what a highlight this is!
The hotel itself is full of character. It’s a 17th century former Parsonage and has an eclectic charm. It prides itself on being a ‘home from home’ and mixes country house traditions with chic, modern luxury.
Each of the 35 bedrooms has been individually designed and boasts unique artwork, sumptuous fabrics and stunning bathrooms.
The walled courtyard is the perfect spot to relax in post wedding and you can even borrow one of the Old Parsonage’s vintage bikes and explore Oxford if you’ve got some energy left after your wedding day!
Not many people would want to spend their wedding night in prison. However, Oxford’s Malmaison Hotel is a former jail and the rooms were the cells! It’s certainly a talking point!
Slightly dubious history aside, the Malmaison is now stylish and modern. It holds a prime location in Oxford’s Castle Quarter and can be found directly opposite Oxford Castle. It’s just a five minute walk from the train station and close to all of Oxford’s main attractions and venues.
The stunning Signature Suite is the ideal room for wedding morning prep. It has a mezzanine floor, roll top bath and more than enough space for you and your wedding party to get ready.
You get a choice of two Voco Hotels in Oxford. Voco Spires is around half a mile from the city centre and has more than enough rooms for you both and all your guests. Ideal for a big catch up over breakfast the day after your wedding! It’s modern and stylish and the King Suite is the ideal space for getting ready ahead of your big day.
Alternatively Voco Thames is just outside Oxford, right on the Thames. The country house hotel is surrounded by over 30 acres of lovely gardens as well as a pool and a spa. What better way to relax after all the celebrations?! It’s also plenty big enough to house all your friends and family for the night. You could even enjoy a stroll along the river into the centre of Oxford, an excellent hangover cure!
If hotels aren’t your thing then why not rent an AirBnb? There are plenty to choose from in Oxford from huge houses that would house your entire wedding party or cosier apartments that are perfect for the two of you. Some key things to look for when choosing an AirBnb are:
Light – large windows and lots of lovely natural light are key!
Space – have a think about who will be getting ready with you? Will there be plenty of room for you all plus any extras (hair, makeup, parents popping in…)
Transport / parking – will you be within walking distance of your venue? Is there easy car parking nearby so you don’t need to carry all your wedding paraphernalia too far? Pre-order taxis if there’s a large group of you heading to the venue on your wedding morning. You don’t want to be delayed if you’re struggling to get transport!
So there you have it, my top picks for pre wedding preparations and post wedding stays in Oxford. If I’ve missed out your favourite then let me know!