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