New College dominates the south side of the street. At the western end of the street is the King's Arms public house on the north corner, a favorite with Oxford University students, and the Indian Institute (now the University's history faculty) to the south. On the north side is the Holywell Music Room, an historic chamber music venue built in 1742. Opposite is a small cul-de-sac, Bath Place. This leads via a small winding footpath to the historic Turf Tavern public house close to the old city wall. The wall is still extant in places and follows the course of Holywell Street to the south, partly through New College.
The composer George Frideric Handel (1685–1759) performed at the Holywell Music Room.
Jane Burden (1839–1914), the muse of the Pre-Raphaelite and subject of many of their pictures, lived in a cottage in St Helen's Passage, at the back of Bath Place off Holywell Street. At the time of her birth, her father, Robert Burden, was a stableman and lived here with his wife, Ann (nee Maizey, Jane's mother). The site is now marked with a blue plaque . At the time of Jane Burden's marriage to William Morris at St Michael's Church, Oxford, on 26 April 1859, her father was described as a groom in stables at 65 Holywell Street.