Stay the night: The Randolph, Oxford

A great opportunity has been missed in the recent makeover of Oxford's most venerable hotel, says Sarah Barrell

Makeovers: they're all the rage. Take a grand old hotel and do something oh-so-aching-moderne with the décor that it eclipses much of the original elegance. Not so with The Randolph, but sadly in this case, more would in fact be more.

Last year, this landmark hotel was promoted to AA Five Star status in recognition of both its service and its recent renovations, including the addition of a spa. Investment or no, the new look resembles the holdings of a fusty old dowager who has neither the money nor the vision to revive her rambling property.

The building still has that lovely old creaky-floored warmth and high, oft- vaulted corridors that fittingly suggest the residence of a university don, but it suffers from decorative improvements that either don't go far enough or miss the atmospheric mark completely.

In my room a small nod to the contemporary was made by a rich purple throw and shiny teal chaise longue – incongruous with the otherwise middle-of-the-road-corporate decor. As far as makeover inspiration goes this was hardly Grand Designs.

Meanwhile, more obvious improvements go wanting. Guests climbing The Randolph's grand central staircase are privy to a "backstage" view of the hotel's dowdy admin offices due to an inadequate screen, and the institutional smell of food that hovers in the stairwell entirely misrepresents the restaurant's good cuisine.

There is nothing very "wrong" with any of it (Macdonald Hotels, which owns the property, would never stray far from the inoffensive) but a great opportunity to revitalise a fabulous old address has been missed.



The Bedroom

I stayed in a junior suite, which unlike many "suites" these days had a good-size lounge area entirely closed off from the bedroom. The usual suspects are presented: Molton Brown by way of freebie toiletries (in all but the Classic Twins, which have the hotel chain's own brand); chocolates (suites only); fluffy robes; and slippers.

The Food and Drink

You could do worse than have a trad G&T in the Morse Bar and follow it with an even more traditional dinner in the dining room. Speed-read the tome-like wine list while drinking champers in old-fashioned cut glass flutes and dine on two-AA-Rosette-winning staples such as cream of asparagus soup, roast Côte de Boeuf (for two) and roast partridge.

The Extras

With the Morse Bar and lovely old Drawing Room favoured for drinks and afternoon tea, the Chapters bar has lately been put to better use as a spa. This gothic vaulted cellar, now painted deep blue, is candle lit and scattered with Eastern ornaments to provide a compact and restful spa space that includes four treatment rooms, a thermal suite and relaxation room.

The Access

The ground floor is accessible for people with disabilities, and two rooms have been accordingly modified. Children are welcome.

The Bill

Junior Suites cost from £249 per night, Classic Twins from £129 room only.

The Address

Macdonald Randolph Hotel, Beaumont Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1 2LN (0844 879 9132; randolph-hotel.com )

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Suggested Topics
Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week