Tales of the Rover Bank…
Just off the A34 and close to the Kassam Stadium – it is hard to believe that one is just minutes away from a 30-acre oasis on the banks of the River Thames.
This is where medieval meets modern and it starts with check-in. An open-plan area of lounge, reception and bar – this is something that we are seeing more and more of and it makes sense to have the bar handy – let your team leader check-in and other guests can order a glass of wine and let the relaxation begin!
The architecture in what is effectively the ‘lobby’ is the medieval element – huge cathedral ceilings and open beams in a majestic environment.
The staff are just great! Friendly and nothing is too much – and they are thoughtful – asking about our adventures throughout our stay, that is attention to detail.
Our double room was spotless, a large bathroom, and with breathtaking views out over a small basin on the Thames with Saint John’s College Barge at dock – a massive asset for the wedding groups that the hotel hosts.
Our stay included taking advantage of the stunning location of the hotel, both running and biking and intentionally swimming for me (and not so for my guest!). So a quick map-reading session and a mountain bike ride to Oxford and beyond – a cheeky pint at halfway overlooking the riverboats and life on the water – another world!
On our return a visit to the spa – a huge asset for guests and local members, and is staffed by such a wonderful, helpful team. We swam in the indoor pool, chatted, bubbled and really relaxed before freshening up for dinner.
We enjoy a celebratory glass of Champagne in the Crusaders Bar and a look at the menu before we sit down for dinner.
The AA Rosette-awarded River Room Restaurant was virtually full to capacity with some larger groups; it made for a jolly atmosphere and that really says something for a Monday night.
The menu showcases the best of Oxford produce. Head Chef Claudio Costea has paid real attention to this – he is passionate about the menu and quality of produce that he uses. Claudio is also passionate about his team and we were lucky enough to have Senior Head Chef Cristian Paul Fratieanu at the helm. Cristian has been promoted through the ranks over the years and considers Claudio to be like a father to him!
The amuse-bouche of smoked duck really set the scene. The menu is exciting with a traditional undertone illustrated by cuts of meat such as grass-fed British fillet steak and rump of English lamb. Other notes of traditionalism include the local cheese board and of course the hugely popular Afternoon Tea that can be served in the Crusaders Bar or lounge area.
We are directed in our wine choices by a quirky investigative method: “How do you like your coffee or tea in the morning?” and, rather than a proposition, this relates to one’s palate and therefore sommelier has a good idea of what wines will suit… He was right and they did – a bottle of white Burgundy and a slightly heavier Merlot… (And for those of you wondering, I drink camomile and my guest black coffee – learn what you will!).
Beautifully cooked beef and equally as superb plaice were enjoyed with seasonal sides before the highlight of the dining review… chef obviously has a penchant for sweets – they were creative, colourful and melt in the mouth. The chocolate fondant – baked to perfection – dreamy inside and a little bit of presentation theatre.
We chatted with Cristian, who was so enthusiastic about his career – it was a pleasure.
So to bed after a dessert wine and more chat.
The breakfast was – again – well presented with everything that one could want, before a run and swim – in the Thames!
This hotel is grand and that is what we want from the De Vere name, the Oxford Hotel on the Thames really delivered.