The Randolph Hotel stand in the centre of Oxford is has been a symbol of this great city for over 150 years.
It began in 1864 based on the designs of William Wilkinson in preparation for the need of top-class accommodation for the purposed visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales, 2 years later.
Named after Dr Francis Randolph, the chief benefactor of The Ashomelan Museum which stands majestically opposite the hotel on Beaumont Street.
In 2000 the hotel was acquired my McDonald Hotels and excelled in providing first class accommodation for many people from across the globe. It has long been the places to stay for politicians, film stars and royalty.
Disaster stuck in April 2015, in my earlier days of Tour Guiding and I remember vividly sitting at home as events unfolded that evening. A fire broke out in the kitchens which was the result of flambering a beef stroganoff! Immediately I was stuck by the potential loss of life but somehow all 80 guests and staff were unharmed. Thanks must go to the 14 fire engines and 70 firefighters who fought the blaze. Whilst the actual damage was about 5%, the roof was badly affected, and The Randolph closed its doors for the first time in its 150-year history.
Rising like a phoenix from the ashes, it took 11 months for the hotel to be repaired and redecorated. A champagne bar was added, and all rooms revamped.
The Randolph was acquired by the American chain of hotels, Graduate in 2020 during the covid pandemic. With hotels forced to shut during ‘lockdown’, this was a great opportunity to completely redecorate and redesign the interior.
In August 2021, the hotel reopened partially for a soft opening, and it was at the time I was invited to come and stay. Prior to becoming a Tour Guide in Oxford my work took me around the world and I had stayed in some of the world’s most iconic hotels but never at The Randolph, so I was delighted.
I was apprehensive about the refurbishment but need not have worried. Once again, she has risen to become, rightfully so, one of the world’s best hotels.
As one enters from Beaumont Street, you are welcome by concierge and to the left is the famous Morse Bar. Here you will find pictures of John Thaw and Kevin Whatley (from Morse and Lewis). Sadly, the Colin Dexter plaque did not survive the refurbishment, but I like to think of him ingrained in the fabric and feel of the hotel for he was a frequent visitor. It was here, at this hotel and within The Morse bar that I once met Colin – a truly lovely gentleman.
My room was located on the 4th floor and looking out the bedroom window, I could see the tip of the Radcliffe Camera and the dreaming spires. The room was well decorated, comfortable, and cosy. The decor has a ‘hint’ to Oxford with references to famous people associated with either town or gown. The en-suite bathroom provided all that I needed with a walk-in shower.
We had breakfast that morning in the new ‘Alice’ restaurant and I can certainly recommend the smashed avocado on English muffin!
All too soon it was time to check out – my Morse / Lewis and Endeavour tour was beckoning but this time I could tell my guests all about the Graduate Randolph!