Oxford House: A Hotel Review
If a hotel were to be designed purely for the Instagram generation, it would likely look a lot like Oxford House. The pastel-toned, 56-room hotel on Sydney’s Oxford Street takes its design cues from the sunkissed, So-Cal holiday destination of Palm Springs: muted hues, plant-adorned walls and a whole lot of sunlight.
From the street, the all-day restaurant is visible through windows that stretch the length of the building–wide glass panes showcasing a stylised, art-adorned dining room. Mid-century modern light fittings are suspended above neatly laid tables housing croissants by day and wagyu steak by night, and a row of wine bottles arches above the brass-trimmed bar. Head up the steps past reception and you’ll find yourself in a stone-walled atrium that’s home to the pool bar – a plant-flanked terrace serving signature cocktails, a seafood-heavy menu and playlists that add to the West Hollywood-inspired energy of the place. The pool itself is exclusive to hotel guests, but the bar is open to the public – with a regular roster of DJ sets and daytime pool parties. All of this might seem out of place on a street known for its nightlife, but somehow it works: the light-flooded, Cali-inspired destination seems to complement the subtle grunge of this intersection of Sydney suburbs.
“We wanted to create a space that really felt like an unexpected escape; a hotel that was as relaxed as Oxford Street is lively,” says Tom de Plater, Principal Designer at Public Hospitality – the group behind Oxford House.
We arrived on a Sunday afternoon and had it not been raining, the pool bar would have been alive with a “Sounds Of Summer” party: with DJs pumping out music and the bar pumping out signature cocktails and lobster rolls. As it was, the covered tables were filled with birthday parties and pairs of friends catching up quietly over shared plates of oysters. I ordered the OH! Margarita – a perfectly spiced concoction haloed by a lava salt rim. When the rain upped its intensity, we headed downstairs into the restaurant and settled into a banquet in the corner with glasses of chardonnay and a bowl of lobster and prawn tortellini. Although it’s a modern Australian menu, the food at Oxford House echoes the Californian ethos: fresh salads and delicate share plates alongside cheeseburgers and a stacked club sandwich. Drinks-wise, it’s worth trying something from the carefully curated list of cocktails.
While Sydney isn’t necessarily known for its after-dark activities, if anywhere in the city can offer entertainment any night of the week, it’s Oxford Street. Since it was a Sunday and raining, we decided to forgo the bars in favour of the cinema – a convenient 60-second walk from the hotel’s entrance.
Back in the room, the sound of the street was conspicuously absent, despite the direct view across Paddington’s busiest street and the rows of quaint, Edwardian terraces beyond.
With seven different room types available, ranging from compact queen-sized bedrooms to multi-room suites, guests can choose between an affordable city break or excessive indulgence. Each room comes fitted with Marshall speakers, crockery from Sydney-born designer Marc Newson, Grown Alchemist bath products and custom-made bathrobes from local clothing store Double Rainbouu. A nod to Oxford Street’s creative culture, the artwork hung throughout the hotel has been carefully selected by multi-disciplinary creative and designer George Gorrow.
Oxford House’s sun-soaked pool terrace opens at 7 every morning, serving Will and Co coffee and a breakfast menu that includes ricotta hotcakes, mushrooms on toast and a signature omelette packed with goat’s curd, baby spinach and parmesan. For party-centric weekends, there are OH! Bloody Marys or cold-pressed juices from Simon Says Juice spiked with Grey Goose vodka. As I left into Oxford Street’s Monday morning buzz, I bumped into Simon himself, who delivers juice to the hotel by bike every day. It’s a reminder that, despite its Palm Springs aesthetic, this is a Sydney hotel at its heart – a Californian-inspired compliment to what Principal Designer Tom de Plater labels “the cultural fabric of Paddington”.
Rooms start at $206 per night, and bookings can be made via www.oxfordhouse.com.au