History The Randolph
The Randolph's new neo-Gothic architecture was considered as too garish for Oxford.

The Randolph

"The Randolph" – appearing in every second of the UKs blockbuster TV series "Inspector Morse" as if there is no second hotel in the city – it is an Oxford landmark. It has reopened in May 2016 after being damaged by fire in 2015.

When it was built, in 1864, The Randolph caused controversy. The city council thought it too tall and considered this new neo-Gothic architecture too garish for a sober University town. Now the Randolph is very much an Oxford landmark, just as famous as the Ashmolean Museum that it faces.

The lobby is an event. With its winding staircase this is one of the quasi-medieval high points of William Wilkinson’s Gothic design. The Morse Bar, just off the lobby, is overpriced but has great cachet. The Lancaster Room is where afternoon tea is taken and is decorated with paintings by Sir Osbert Lancaster, the author of the classic Oxford comic novel, Zuleika Dobson. (Sir Osbert paid his hotel bill with these pictures.) The restaurant is decorated with oil paintings and college coats of arms and deliberately echoes an Oxford senior common room of Victorian times.

The long association with TV’s Inspector Morse consolidated the hotel’s role as Oxford icon. The Randolph appeared in more episodes than any other Oxford building and author Colin Dexter is often to be spotted in the hotel’s Morse Bar. The late Ailish Hurley, who appears as the waitress serving coffee to TV icon Morse and Dr Sandra Harrison at the Randolph Hotel, Oxford, was in real life the manager of the hotel's bar.

to be published
The late Ailish Hurley, who appears as the waitress serving coffee to Morse and Dr Sandra Harrison at the Randolph Hotel, Oxford, was in real life the manager of the hotel's bar. She was also a friend of Colin Dexter who encouraged him to continue with the Morse books. During filming, the production team and stars of Inspector Morse usually stayed at the Randolph Hotel, and Dexter arranged for Ailish (like him) to play a cameo role in The Remorseful Day.

John Thaw said of the end of Morse: "I didn't want the television Morse to end like Frank Sinatra - doing an endless series of farewell concerts."
There are 151 en suite bedrooms off the grandest staircase in Oxford. All have been recently refurbished but the hotel’s Victorian origins can show when it comes to room size. Expectations were lower in those days. Trade up to a four poster room if you're looking for luxury. Décor is subdued but tasteful: browns and creams enlivened by the odd electric blue or red cushion. The rooms with a view of St Giles or the Ashmolean offer space worth paying the extra for.
A superb position. The Randolph’s immediate neighbours are the “Ashmo”, the colleges of Balliol and St.John, the Oxford Playhouse and the Martyr’s Memorial, which is where tour groups tend to congregate. The good shops are in walking distance too and the majestic sweep of St Giles yours to stroll around night and day.
The Randolph Restaurant has two AA rosettes, both the work of head chef, Tom Birks. All the ingredients – beef, oysters, scallops, salmon – are sourced from the best UK suppliers, which accounts for the price. The cheese trolley tries to be entirely English. Not a cheap restaurant but one with a great sense of occasion. Birks has reintroduced the idea of flambéing and carving at the table. This is one of the places that proud parents and grandparents take their student offspring. ?If you’re a resident there is a good half board meal plan which allows you to dine from a more reasonably-priced fixed menu. A brandy or whisky in the panelled Morse Bar is a great way to end off the evening?
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Our Select Member Hotel

The Randolph
Country: England
City: Oxford
Opening date: 1864

Note from the Host

General Manager

Michael Grange


Beaumont Street
OX1 2LN GB England, Oxford

Tel: +440844 879 9132
Fax: +4401865 791678

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