Hotel Review: Oxford House brings Palm Spring party vibes to Sydney

Pool & bar area

The Vision
Vintage never goes out of fashion. Perhaps that’s the secret sauce for Public Hospitality, (led by Jon Adgemis and Peter Crinis) who take this to the next level by uncovering the hidden potential of heritage buildings and reinventing them to a new level of grandeur and grooviness.

Oxford House (affectionately known as OH!) is one of their newest projects and one which get’s its arty personality from a collaboration with the founder of Ksubi, George Gorrow. From a sculpture in the lobby (which you can’t help but touch), to paintings, photography, collage, printmaking and more. So what is it like to stay in a Paddington-Palm Springs Oasis for 24hrs?

The Arrival
In a blink and you miss its entrance, the white vertical Oxford House sign presides over clear glass doors. I am welcomed by two stylish greeters in their urban cool green sage linen dresses.  People are coming and going from the side stairs..mmm what is up there? Suddenly my jeans white trainer combo feels a bit uncool?

Blue reception and that weird but wonderful, fabric wall sculpture

The Location
OH! is at the city end of the Darlo/ Paddo divide. Whilst the front of the hotel looks out onto a bustling Oxford Street the majority of the rooms lie back from the street and have back lane outlooks onto a patchwork of Paddo gardens and terraces. It’s a skip to numerous cafes, restaurants, bars and of course, the boutique shopping paradise that is Paddington.

Hotel room – 316 Artists Suite

The door to the Arts Suite opens onto a short corridor with glamazoned with art, shelving, a vase of white roses and welcome note. To the left is the bedroom and to the right is the lounge.

I can hear music pumping from the lounge room which gets me thinking, why, oh why is it, that the first experience of any hotel room is music blaring at you from a TV screen? Then I realise my mistake… These tropical house beats are courtesy of the DJ downstairs in the pool area which this suite overlooks. For those muso loving folks Friday and Saturday nights are your jam. As there are no doors between the lounge and bedroom this does mean that if you were hoping for R&R or simply to have quiet in your hotel room, this may not be the room for you at this time of the week.

The design of the two spaces is clever and quirky. You can tell it was formerly two hotel rooms but one has been converted to a lounge with a natty powder room. Concrete tiled floors are covered with pastel rugs, a wooden side table in the bedroom shows off a retro Marshall speaker, whilst a large wicker basket is stuffed with white fluffy towels. Two bespoke Double Rainbouu bathrobes are not stuffed into a wardrobe, but adorn the wall like pieces of art.

I feel like I am in a Kingsmen movie where a discrete touch on a wall reveals a hidden door. One wall is timbered and surprise after surprise keeps coming, a narrow hanging rail, a secret bar fridge and tap, tap, tap, whoa! A door opens to reveal a bathroom. Stepping inside my own minature bathroom Narnia I enjoy a rain shower with Grown Alchemist toiletries, surrounded by retro sand coloured subway tiles.. OH It’s fun.

The Pool and OH! Pool Bar

In a ‘if-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them attitude’, I head downstairs to Level One. The sun is setting and I settle into my people watching vantage point accompanied by my laptop and sunnies and a soon to be eaten Club Sandwich (sans the 3 layers of bread which actually makes it a ‘Club’) so really its just a sarnie!

Pool side – FYI only hotel guests get this view!

This place has it’s groove on.. its a triangular internal courtyard hugged on all sides by hotel rooms. The DJ to my right is spinning tunes whilst white sun umbrellas with its silky tassels are swaying in the breeze. Banquets border one side, white wire chairs with sand colour cushions, fan palms and tumbling ivy complete the look. Servers are dashing around dressed in pink T-shirts with safari green aprons over their shorts. It’s a chatty collection of Paddo residents, business peeps and hotel guests just soaking up the atmosphere.

El Primo Sanchez 

Now, if this sounds like a feisty Mexican, it is! Given the glitter balls, cocktails and focus on tequila and mezcal from mandarin Palomas to Charro Negro, this is an escape to Mexico. If you are not in by 7pm, the chances are the fiesta will be in ‘full’ swing so be prepared to queue on roped ‘standby’ on the street. Sign language is optional but very handy given how much fun is going on here. The lighting is nightclub neon pink n’ purple so it’s a game of taco roulette as you can’t make out colours of the food to know which is which. We order Mexican beers and a darn fine margarita and tuck into our three tacos. First up is a marinated charcoal pork belly with diced pineapple and salsa verde. My fav is the chunky brussel sprouts tossed with chili vinegar and hazelnut requeson cheese, whilst the chicken carnitas tossed with avocado, salsa de morita (made from jalapeno peppers which have been dried and slightly smoked) is a stellar runner up. The dish of the night are three delicious grilled prawns doused in a black bean butter which is rich and creative. Ariba!

We retire next door to enjoy our mini bar and OH! so comfy three seater sofa (thank you design gods who have placed a human sized comfy couch in a room). Zzzzz.

OH! Restaurant
Next morning a sleepy Oxford Street is barely awake. I head next door to their other restaurant. Situated on the Oxford Street level it is classy fit out with Parisian touches from refined wooden tables, sage green seating and cosy booths. We order a latte and cappuccino which is full bodied thanks to coffee by Will and Co.  Designed by acclaimed chef, Culinary Director Nick Mahlook the consciously crafted menu features locally sourced ingredients.

We bypass the pastries and explore options from an OH! omelette with Woodside goats curd, spinach, parmesan and herb salad to wild mushies with poached eggs and crispy kale. I chose to build my own. My plate arrives with a stunning Hunter Valley egg parachute covering a single slice of toast accompanied by sides of juicy smoked trout and barely a teaspoon of goat’s curd which feels a bit mean! The eggs are rich and delicious.

The Verdict
What we are addicted too? – Whether you stay here or not, the OH! Pool Restaurant is so much fun. At night a projection of curated images are projected onto the wall. It’s fun and fabulous.

What we need to be more addicted? – A sliding door between the Art Suite lounge area and the bedroom would give you privacy, and a private retreat from the ambient noise coming from the pool and bar area

Oxford House, 21 Oxford Street, Paddington, 2021
El Primo Sanchez, 27-33 Oxford Street, Paddington 2021

About the author

Karen’s corporate job back in the UK had included entertaining clients in some of the best restaurants. This ultimately sparked a curiosity 'Just how do they do that?' (she confesses she was brought up on meat and vegetables, so this was all very exciting). Currently a Mr & Mrs Smith 'Tastemaker', she’s flashpacked around the world, learning about wine, experiencing different cultures and cuisines and had a two- year love affair with it all. Originally from England, she finally settled in Australia and continues to be besotted by food, wine and travel preferring to focus on the luxury end of town (thread count does matter).