IT's taken as read if you fancy a hotel break in Oxford you have to visit a mortgage broker first.

High prices leave the city in the Champions League alongside some of Europe's finest when it comes to hugely expensive accommodation.

But what Oxford does offer is diversity. Fancy a couple of nights banged up in a prison cell at the posh Malmaison? Cute eh. Bet the inmates love it there.

Or, as I've done before at various times of the year, you can enjoy the student experience in university rooms. Worlds apart and not just in cash terms.

Then there is the Travelodge - once cheap and cheerful, now still just as cheap and, err, even more cheerful.

The new kid on the very large (Lego) block in Abingdon Road is, as you would expect just months after opening, spick and span, in pristine condition. You can still smell the freshly applied coat of paint as you drift into the warmth of the rather large reception area.

Ours is a few frills box room, no bath, but spotless, tea and coffee, tiny open wardrobe, tv and yes it's beautifully basic. Travelodge are so confident you will enjoy your night's sleep they even offer to sell you the bed (not the actual one you slept in) so you can carry on living the dream when you get home.

Even a room overlooking the jam-packed car park left us enjoying perfect peace and quiet. Bliss.

In the public seating area the days of feasting from a vending machine have gone.

The smell of freshly cooked served pizza pervades at 2am and the decently stocked bar is doing a fair trade. You can't beat a glass of Gumnut Shiraz to while away the early hours.

It's a proper venue, just like a hotel in fact only at a third of the price.

The facility is full, breakfast is manic, even an hour before closing but we did manage to get plenty to eat in the end.

And we still had a few pennies left to get the bus into the city to enjoy the sights.

By Chris Gill


Current rates from £109 and £116.95 including breakfast

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