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All People > brightlybob > BrightlyBob's Blab > 2019 > August
2019

I stayed here with my son for 5 nights during the British August Bank Holiday. This is a new-build hotel opened just a few weeks ago. It’s not to be confused with the Courtyard Oxford South, also a newly built property that is definitely very much South of Oxford. Prices for the City Centre Courtyard were running £800 ($1,000) for my 5 nights, the Courtyard South was £400 ($500) for the same 5 nights. But here’s the thing, both are Cat2s therefore redeeming 50,000 points for the 5 nights. The Courtyard South represents good value for your redemption at 1c per point but the Courtyard City Centre represents excellent value at 2c per point and puts you immediately behind the 1,000 year old castle, right in the thick of the Castle area with all of Oxfords numerous 500+ year old colleges, punting, botanical gardens and many museums within a 5-15 minute walk. The mediaeval Castle is literally 2 minute walk! When they say City Centre, they mean it! Of course as a medieval city it’s not very traffic friendly. The hotel has no car parking itself but the nearest public car park is only a 2 minute walk, alas at a £35 per night fee, that would be £175 just to park for my 5-night stay - and that’s normal pricing for Oxford City Centre! Or you can do as thousands of others do (and I did) and park at one of the huge “park and ride” carparks dotted around the Oxford ring-road for only £3 day with a £1.80 e/w 15-minute bus ride. 5 days parking for £15 plus £7 for our 2 return bus fares, much better!

 

So to the hotel. Well it’s a new build on Paradise Street next to Quaking Bridge

but this being medieval Oxford, there wasn’t much building space so it’s not got a very big footprint. No pool, lounge or restaurant, very narrow corridors

but a spacious bar/breakfast room

The rooms are small, there’s no denying that, and I wasn’t upgraded but that’s due to the fact the twin rooms are standard only, there’s no upgraded twin rooms in the hotel, but they’re well set up and me and my son didn’t feel cramped. It did get quite hot during our stay and I’m pleased to say the aircon worked brilliantly!

Theres no denying the bathroom is small, I could stand in the middle and touch the front and back walls, but the shower cublicle was a good size and water pressure and temperature was good

One of the reasons we didn’t feel cramped was because in the centre of Oxford there’s so much to see and do

Some of it right on the doorstep, here’s the view from the hotel doorway

Thats the Castle Tower - here’s the view of the hotel from the top of the tower which is part of the guided Castle tour

Yes, there is a rooftop bar, alas not quite finished yet, “Health and Safety” certificates are awaited, but it looks good!

 

Now for my Plat amenity I chose the daily £8pp allowance giving me £80 ($100) in total F&B allowance! On a 50k redemption, this just gets better and better! Breakfast was £15 per person unless reserved on checkin for the entire stay when it would be £13pp. Effectively therefore purchased for the entire stay breakfast would cost an extra £5pppn. I didn’t reserve my breakfast but did “walk up” one morning at £15pp. The spread was small but that was because they only put a small amount of everything out so there was still lots of choice - hot was scrambled egg, bacon, sausage, Tomato, mushroom, hash browns and baked beans, cold was cereals, fruit, breads, preserves and danish. The daily allowance came with the now-familiar rules, it doesn’t stack, it must be spent at the bar, on breakfast or the fridges and can only be used on food and drinks. Mostly we spent the daily allowance on a few drinks at night before turning in. It’s a good benefit, and a real Bonvoy improvement on Marriotts previous “go pound sand” for Courtyard benefits!

 

Oxford is a great place to visit, there is so much to see and do, and the City Centre Courtyard is a brilliant base, park-and-ride in and walk, walk, walk - and punt, never forget to do a bit of punting!

So much more relaxing if you don’t punt yourself, we went for a chauffeured punt from Magdalen College Bridge. Our  chauffeur was Phoebe, a local student, and apart from looking very concerned about the considerable effort her punt was going to need also gave a running commentary of the colleges we passed and the Oxford/Cambridge traditions.

 

We had a brilliant stay and I will definitely be back! 

A couple of months ago our youngest, Jazzy, turned 18 and as we had done with her elder brothers we offered her an 18th break. Of course this one was always going to be different, an all adult trip - all University students, Kian taking his Masters, Dan on his second year bachelors and Jazzy just about to commence her LLB. A very proud, if expensive, moment!

 

So it’s 5 nights - 2 on the beach at the AC Gava Mar and 3 at the Renaissance Fira with its oh-so-cool (but hot) Rooftop Pool!

 

And a very nice room at the AC Gava Mar...

 

Yes, the wardrobe proves it’ll be a “bright” break!

Lovely bath, note the embossed AC towels and transparent sink, pretty cool - I do like ACs

And finally our view the next day, oh yeah, nice start!

 

This hotel has been a long time coming. Formerly the Duke of Buckingham’s Hunting Lodge on the edge of Lancelot “Capability” Browns beautiful Langley Park this hotel has been comprehensively refurbished from its latest incarnation as the UKs National Lottery HQ.

 

We were here with the in-Laws using my 75-night certificate and I paid 35,000 points for the in-laws room. This place is a real bargain on points against standard room rates of £400/nt, but when we checked in early we were delighted to have been upgraded to 2 of the main house suites, in particular the in-laws had been upgraded to the centre-front of house Spencer Suite!

 

 

These rooms were sublime, beautifully furnished throughout with both roll-top soaker baths and separate “overhead rain showers”. 

 

 

The property has a full spa, and unusually for England, an outdoor pool that has literally opened just the day before our stay! Weather was 20c which was good enough for a sunbathe and swim!

 

 

We ate at the hotels Cedar Restaurant which offers both an a la carte and fixed price £75pp tasting menu (plus a £65pp matched wine taster) and although it’s received some criticism in the British press for slow service and inaccurate orders I think this was opening glitches. We went a la carte, our meal was superb and the service sublime. Breakfast was also in the Cedar and consisted of a cold buffet. It wasn’t particularly wide but it was offered to both our rooms as my Titanium amenity, and I later found out I could have upgraded to the full English for £8pp. Alas I didn’t due to conflicting information and the true policy only emerged after raising it with reception who consulted a manager and called me back later. 

 

However apart from the Titanium breakfast confusion this was a wonderful stay with great elite recognition, and as long as the hotel remains at 35k points per night it will be a proper bargain to redeem your points. We will definitely return!