After the University, The Randolph is possibly Oxford’s best-known building (ignoring the defunct, now demolished towers at Didcot!). Built in brick with a gothic façade in 1864 as an architectural compromise to the historic buildings around it. The builder was William Wilkinson and he opened the doors in 1866. Just in time for a visit by the then Prince and Princess of Wales; Edward (eventually the VII) and Alexandra of Denmark. The building was named after the Rev. Dr Frances Randolph who was the chief benefactor of the Ashmolean, having given a grand towards the project and others in the city.

For many decades surprisingly the only five-star hotel in Oxford. A ballroom was added in 1899. This was used as a temporary hospital for injured soldiers in World War I. Further renovations are recorded in 1923, 1952, 1978 and 2000. Then on April 17th, 2015 a little too much Cognac was used to flambee the beef stroganoff. The fire this caused could be seen for miles. Thankfully only 5% of the building was badly damaged. This though, instigated a much-needed major revamp. Since which stroganoff has been off the menu!

Over its lifetime the hotel has hosted many famous names. In recent times these include couples such as Liz & Richard and Bill & Hilary. Kings Alonso of Spain, Ferdinand of Bulgaria and Farouk of Egypt. Gorbachov, Carter and Benazir Bhutto. Actors a plenty plus of course, Morse and his film crew. The hotel’s Morse Bar being one of Oxford’s most popular.

Today, owned by Macdonald’s, hotels not burgers, The Randolph remains a fine establishment with extensive facilities including a spa. Their afternoon teas are much talked of.

I stayed back in the 80s and have visited on numerous occasions since. To be honest I have had mixed experiences…What have yours been? Please share them with us. The Randolph Hotel


  1. The Randolph Hotel used to be in the Trust House Forte empire. During my time working for THF Hotels, I stayed as a guest at The Randolph in the 1980’s, using their very attractive Company staff discount offer. As a lowly THF Management Trainee I couldn’t afford to fully utilise all the facilities but have fond memories of our stay.

  2. Real shame that the American based Graduate Hotels are proposing to change the name to The Graduate Oxford when they complete their take-over. Their marketing boys should really take a good look at the history of The Randolph and the significance of its name.

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