Rooftop view in Oxford, from The Store roof top bar


The new hotel in the historic Boswells department store, is called The Store 

Published: 24 May 2024

Author: Richard Lofthouse


Share this article

Opening in phases since early May, the surprisingly cavernous Boswells department store that alumni will remember for its numerous departments and glorious, reasonably priced knickknackery, is now a boutique hotel.

Boasting 101 rooms, the building has been extensively re-worked behind its façade by new owners EQ Group.

The roof top bar at The Store, the hotel that used to be Boswells

One of the delightful outcomes for the lucky few who can afford to stay there, is a new range of sweeping views of the dreaming spires.

The day QUAD visited was defined by persistent rain but in fact it was rather super, offering watery skylines like Japanese prints.

To the north you can see the buses choking up the street next to Balliol, which is Oh So Oxford. To the East you look right down Broad Street to the Sheldonian, and beyond to the countryside far away on the horizon. And from the roof you can see right out to the John Radcliffe Hospital and beyond, incorporating many of the middle-ground icons such as the University Church and Radcliffe Camera.

Reimagined as a hotel, restaurant, rooftop bar, co-working bar, and spa, The Store owners have worked hard to preserve a strong sense of the history of the current building, which itself was pre-dated by the family-owned department store which traces its origins to 1738, one of the oldest such shops in the world when it was sadly closed in 2020.

A terrace room at The Store, the hotel that used to be Boswells

Boswells was initially founded by Francis Boswell and located at 50 Cornmarket Street, and it sold luggage. In the 1890s it changed ownership and the current building dates only from 1928.

Arranged over seven floors, the interior design has been informed by the heritage of the two distinct buildings that make up The Store. Both buildings have a distinct architectural language that runs throughout the refurbished and extended spaces.

Foodies will be welcome whether or not they are guests. The Restaurant, Treadwell, will, say the owners, be ‘Untraditionally British’. Expect Ruby Murray Chicken Pie, with gunpowder new potatoes and makhani jus; and The Store Cheeseburger, double smoked applewood cheddar, Cotswold chorizo & jalapeno jam, pickles, seasoned fries.

Located on the ground floor, The Bar at The Store features floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the hustle and bustle of Broad Street, and an adjacent fireside snug. A multi-use space, the welcoming spot will be suited to all occasions, from co-working, coffee meetings and leisurely lunches throughout the day, to pre-theatre or post-work cocktails and relaxed evenings with friends.

But if you want those views try out The Roof, an elegant bar and terrace offering 360 views over Oxford and a variety of outdoor seating, wood-fired pizza and lots of classic cocktails.

View of Broad Street from The Store, the hotel that used to be Boswells

There is a spa and a gym and the rooms are all contemporary with a sprinkling of Nordic, snug if you are used to North American dimensions but so it goes in Europe.

The owners claim they will prioritise applications from individuals based in Oxford and the surrounding area, with all staff benefitting from the Oxford Living Wage.

Oh, and there’s a coffee offering! The Store is working with Oxford coffee roastery NewGround, whose delicious brews ‘will be available throughout The Store’s drinking and dining spaces.’

Rooms start from £285 per night including breakfast.