Find the Randolph Hotel among the spire-lined streets of quintessentially British Oxford – a Victorian Gothic bolthole that’s been given a sprucing by the Graduate hotels group to reflect the city’s rich heritage. Its prime location opposite the Ashmolean Museum is a big draw, but its Alice restaurant is reason alone to visit. While most corners of the Randolph are adorned in Oxford-blue, The Alice is bold and bright; a Wonderland of pink leather sofas, high ceilings and floral touches. Inspiration taken from literary connections and alumni make this a heritage-filled hideaway fit for magicians and muggles alike.
11am; earliest check-in, 3pm. Call in advance to check any flexibility for your dates.
Double rooms from £196.63, including tax at 20 per cent.
Certain rates include breakfast – check when booking.
The hotel was purpose built in the 1860s, but has also lent a helping hand to the public in times of crisis – the most notable being as a field hospital to treat those injured during the air raids of the Second World War.
At the hotel
WiFi, treatment rooms, sauna, steam room, ice room, jacuzzi, snug, laundry service, valet parking. In rooms: Malin + Goetz amenities, tea- and coffee-making facilities, TV, minibar, desk.
Our favourite rooms
With the same Oxford blue decor throughout the hotel, room preference is simply a case of size. And with so much on your doorstep, you might choose to opt for one of the smaller rooms – which are incredibly generous given their city-centre location. Nab a corner room for views of the Ashmolean and Martyr’s Memorial.
If Oxford is the place to exercise the mind, make sure to give yours the all-important warm down. While there's no spa as such, Randolph’s wellness centre has five brain-tingling treatment rooms as well as a thermal area comprising of a rock sauna, bio sauna, aroma steam room, ice fountain and Jacuzzi. Access to the thermal area is £30 per person for one hour, and sessions must be booked well in advance.
A copy of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited to curl up in the bohemian-style snug with, and some biceps to put to work when punting.
An accessible double room is available with lowered amenities and a fully accessible bath tub and shower.
If you’re seeking privacy, table seven’s pink-leather clad sofa is the most tucked away.
Top-of-the-class tailoring with a twist, but leave the tweed at home.
Helmed by chef Chris Emery, the Alice’s grand setting belies its personable feel. The menu is created with care; the integrity of ingredients is paramount; and the commitment to quality is commendable. New dishes are born out of midnight brainwaves, car journey musings or meanders through the city’s covered market. Some might think the ever-changing menu flippant, but that couldn’t be further from the truth – Chris ensures he uses only seasonal produce, more based on ‘what’s good this week’ conversations with farmers than culinary classics.
The Morse Bar – an ode to previous patron and Morse creator Colin Dexter – is equal parts intimate and impressive. Arched entranceways and oak panelling act as a backdrop to stand-out sofas and historic portraits. Start with a sophisticated coeur de lion cocktail (sapling vodka, apricot, vermouth, pineapple and ginger), but don’t be surprised if you tumble down the rabbit hole of whisky drams or tequila tastings before long.
Breakfast is served from 7am to 10am on weekdays, extended to 10.30am on weekends. Lunch is 12–2.30pm, with a break until dinner service resumes 6–9.30pm. Night caps are available until 10.30pm, extending to 11.30pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
A menu tailored for under-duvet dining is available 11am–10pm, and late-night grub can be ordered from 11pm–6am.
Oxford’s cobbled streets and dreaming spires lead to the Randolph Hotel and its smack-bang-central location cornering Beaumont Street, neighbouring both the Ashmolean and Martyrs’ Memorial.
London’s Heathrow International Airport is about an hour away by car; contact our in-house team to arrange your transfer.
Trains from London, Manchester and other major UK cities regularly pull into Oxford’s train station, a five-minute drive or 10-minute walk from the hotel.
From November 2021, on-site secure valet parking will be available for guests who pre-book. Prices start at £45 a day and includes parking from 2pm on the day of arrival until 12 noon the next day.
Worth getting out of bed for
Curious (and curiouser) types will tumble out of bed and down the dramatic central staircase to pack in a payload of college campuses and museums. A first port of call might be the Ashmolean, just opposite the hotel, which happens to be the world’s oldest museum (and is free to enter). If you prefer two wheels, borrow a bicycle for free from the Randolph and go further afield – perhaps to the laid-back neighbourhood of Jericho. The Covered Market’s cloistered walkways are lined with artisan shops and cafés; while those in the pursuit of punting will love the Cherwell Boathouse, where you can punt before pudding – or put away pudding before punting – at the adjoining restaurant.
The Perch is a perfect summer pub (or any season, really, as long as you have a beer blanket) with beautiful grounds bordering the riverside. The Fishes can be found among acres of wooded grounds, serving seasonal food and fine wine with a focus on – you guessed it – seafood; but also braised beef and ale pies, roast chicken supreme and Moroccan-spiced aubergine.
You’ll notice Missing Bean’s colourful cups in the hands of locals wandering the streets – and for good reason. Get a latte and a loaf (the bread is locally produced and probably better than your lockdown sourdough) from their Turl Street café. Alternatively, pull up a chair in the alcoves of the dog-friendly Coffeesmith café, or bask in the sun of its cobbled courtyard tucked away from the main streets of the city.
Varsity Club TVC is an Oxford staple, with four levels of unparalleled views over the city; stellar espresso martinis make Sandy’s piano bar a lively spot for gigs that showcase local talent; and the Oxford wine café appeases Merlot and manchego lovers alike. Frevd is an out-out option for those with a degree in donning dresses and drinking G&Ts – a church-come-cocktail bar set among hauntingly high ceilings, stained glass windows and crumbling walls.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this Victorian-era hotel in Oxford and unpacked their museum ticket stubs and turtlenecks, a full account of their punting-before-pudding break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Randolph in Oxford…
The spire-lined streets from Oxford’s train station to the Randolph pass by the Faculty of History, Magdalen Street (and, yes, a rather regal Wetherspoons). The hotel’s Gothic Victorian exteriors are mirrored in the rooms – which are generously sized despite their central city location, and with mod-con bathrooms set up for pre- and post-exploring pampers.
The walls are home to the artworks of cartoonist Osbert Lancaster, and nods to Oxford’s alumni are scattered throughout the hotel – be it portraits of Colin Dexter in the Morse bar or bedside lamp shades depicting Lewis Carroll’s Alice and the rabbit. A notebook and an hour in the snug before dinner might instil artistic inspiration; equally, a pint at the bar is said to have incited those more editorially-inclined.
You’ll also find The Randolph Hotel by Graduate in: