an eccentric design hotel steeped in history with a modern makeover

    (A Baxter)

(A Baxter)

For most people who have never spent much time there, Oxford is as much an idea as it is a real place, legendary, romantic, historical, maybe even a little bit magical. The Randolph hotel is part of that mythology, a place associated with a number of literary ghosts and the scene of numerous undergraduate student teas with visiting parents.

The hotel has been around since 1866, but it went into new ownership a few years ago and went through an extensive makeover (after a fire reportedly caused by a flaming flambeed steak went awry). This transformed it from a somewhat dignified stand on its former reputation to a relaxed, modern interpretation of the legendary ‘Oxford’.

The sturdy Victorian Gothic building was built to welcome notable visitors passing through the city and as a result boasts an impressive roster of royalty and heads of state, actors and writers.

The hotel also starred in several episodes of Inspector Morse, specifically mentioned in the Morse Bar.

One of the heavily patterned guest rooms (Graduated Hotels)

One of the heavily patterned guest rooms (Graduated Hotels)


Taken over by the Chicago-based Graduate hotel group, Randolph is now embracing an interesting British maximalism in its interiors. Striking prints are maximized with floral wallpaper, printed curtains, tufted upholstery and plaid cushions.

The interiors were designed by the in-house team of Graduate Hotels, with Upperworth Studios working on the 151 guest rooms and AJ and SHH Architects on the restaurants and bars.

The mix of literary-inspired styles plays with the city’s eccentric and academic heritage, and Alice in Wonderland references Oscar Wilde, Brideshead Revisited, but brings to mind Harry Potter most prominently, thanks largely to the dramatically hanging Hogwarts-style flags. atrium.

Alice (Graduated Hotels)

Alice (Graduated Hotels)

There are also playful touches – the room keys are designed to look like student cards of notable Oxford alumni, so you can choose whether you want to be Margaret Thatcher, Stephen Hawking or Oscar Wilde during your stay. Maybe it’s gimmicky, but it’s a fun game at check-in.

Local design gem

The hotel is directly opposite the Ashmolean Museum, which has plenty of inspiration to browse.

For shopping, interior freaks should head straight to Objects of Use on Market Street, a curated hardware store where a good hour can easily be lost perusing the finest functional items from all over the world.

The Snug (Graduated Hotels)

The Snug (Graduated Hotels)

good to know that

Don’t bother packing your shampoo – the room has Malin + Goetz toiletries and a spa for more extensive grooming needs.

Aim to enjoy at least one drink in one of the cozy, convivial bar areas – both the wood-panelled Morse Bar and the boho Snug provide ideal cocktail drinking conditions. Leave plenty of space and time for an extensive multi-course breakfast buffet at the Alice Brasserie Bar, with its candy pink leather armchairs, opulent chandeliers and patterned ceiling.

However, even though it was recently refurbished, you might have a hard time finding a suitable plug point to charge your phone. We are in Oxford, not in the 21st century.

How to reserve

Rooms ranging from cozy single rooms to suites start at £190 per night.

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