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Hotel Review: Macdonald Randolph Hotel, Oxford in Oxfordshire

SML Randolph

You don’t have to be a brainiac or super sleuth to hang out in Oxford, as far as initial observations went, a lust for shopping, eating pretty much any type of food going and a definite appreciation for splendid architecture are called for. Though I’m sure some would be quick to point out that there is far more than the above to shout about in this popular city and they would be correct!

My trip was short but I had a great time wandering the shops, dining out, craning my neck at the ornate buildings, wandering alongside the Thames and making the most of my home for a few days – Oxford’s 5-star establishment, the delightfully smart, Macdonald Randolph Hotel.


Macdonald Randolph Hotel
The Macdonald Randolph is currently the only five-star hotel in Oxford

Smack bang in the city centre and opposite the university’s museum of art and archaeology, the Ashmolean Museum, the hotel holds two bars, including the famous Morse Bar, a restaurant, spa, meeting rooms and 151 rooms, all in an elegant setting to reflect the hotel’s history.

Expect a very warm welcome at the Macdonald Randolph Hotel as well as a very inviting scent around the reception area – luxury begins literally as you set foot in the hotel and the staff are so friendly throughout.

Built in 1864 by architect William Wilkinson, who planned many large homes in north Oxford, the hotel is well established in the city as the place to enjoy the finer things and the iconic Morse Bar is a popular spot thanks to its regular inclusion in the tv series’ Inspector Morse and Lewis. Classically decorated with wood panelling, dark wood tables and rich, red fabrics, the bar must be on your list of places to visit in this city.

Randolph Spa room
The hotel’s spa provides the perfect oasis to unwind and relax

In contrast, the newly decorated and on trend, Cartoon Bar is decorated in an Art Deco style with dark blue textured walls, deep red leather seats and barstools and a mirrored bar and serves up delightful cocktails and champagne. With a door straight to the street this is the ideal meeting place for locals meeting friends or for a pre theatre drink. Before dinner in the hotel’s resident restaurant, Acanthus, I popped here for a gorgeous, citrusy and punchy cocktail and loved the atmosphere.

The classically-styled drawing room and lounge is the perfect place to transport back in time to enjoy a traditional afternoon tea and the hotel is set up to host weddings in the grand ballroom or in one of the elegant suites.

There is a spa on site, which is open daily and needs to be booked for a time slot. Treatments include the ultimate wellness face and body treatment – a one hour and 25 minute treatment incorporating a deep tissue massage and superfood facial tailored to the individual. There’s a wide range of sumptuous facials and relaxing massages, using the delightful Elemis products as well as manicures, pedicures and waxes available too.


The hotel’s impressive Acanthus Restaurant offers diners in the city an exciting new experience

Acanthus is the hotel’s restaurant with bottle green walls, high ceilings, gold framed paintings and leather seating serving up British cuisine in this sumptuous setting. During my stay my guest and I were treated to the chef’s table experience for dinner, which included a gin cocktail and canapés in the Cartoon Bar before sampling the ‘Best of British Cuisine’ tasting menu by chef Ram Jalasutram in a side room with a large window to the kitchen. The experience was fantastic and we thoroughly enjoyed the combinations of foods and the unique setting – it was great watching the chefs hard at work.

First up was local lobster with English mustard liquor; two flavours I have never eaten together before and the sweet, plump lobster was delicious and not overpowered by the heat of the mustard. A lovely Australian Riesling was paired with the first courses and next up was Scottish salmon – cured and poached – with a goats’ cheese fritter, candy roots and cress. This was a highlight of the meal, the presentation, flavours and textures were winning on this dish – horseradish cream packed a punch, beetroot and goats’ cheese are always a wonderful combination and crisp angel’s hair added another dimension to the already delicious dish.

The Cartoon Bar is certainly one of the most stylish bars in Oxford city centre

Corn-fed chicken – truffle-scented baby breast pave, bunny carrot, baby gem and a grapefruit glaze was our next course. The grapefruit flavour uplifted the earthy truffle and a glass of Chilean Pinot Noir was a delightful addition. Following this we had wild sea bass with a king prawn cigar and parsley juice. I would have like the sea bass to have been a little more delicate and the presentation was a little bland. Nevertheless the quality of the fish was good and the cigar, with its crisp outer, was very nice.

A lemon martini – champagne and lemon was refreshing and I like both elements but would have preferred to enjoy them separately. The highlight of the night was up next – Southdown Rack of Lamb with a puff crust, black pudding, smoked wild mushrooms and mint dressing. This lamb wellington was a delight with its rich flavours and was greatly enjoyed by us both. A lover of Chocolate I was pleased to see that dessert was Valrhona textures and pistachio powder – gorgeous chocolatey elements sat on the plate including ice cream, sponge and a mousse with little pieces of meringue scattered around and gold leaf. It looked great and tasted it too!

A tea and some pretty tasty petit fours and we were done. Overall I think the presentation and flavour combinations of some of the dishes could be worked upon but as a meal it was delicious and filling.


Randolph Presidential
The hotel offers the perfect place to relax and unwind after a day’s sightseeing, shopping or business in the city

Each of the 151 rooms are decorated differently but all have the elegance that runs throughout the hotel, with a few modern touches to make your stay all the more pleasurable. My room was decorated with calming mink and dusty lavender shades across all soft furnishings, complemented by metallics. The comfortable room held an ornate bronze chandelier and two cosy chairs as well as dark wood furniture and framed images of architectural Oxford in sepia upon the white walls. A built in wardrobe held a kettle, mini fridge, iron, safe while the large bathroom, in cream, was modern, with an excellent shower over the bath, a large mirror and cosy robes to wrap up in. There’s also plenty of water available as well as an espresso machine, two phones and a turndown service at night.

Close to the theatre, cinema, shops, restaurants and university, the hotel is located in the best place to enjoy all that the city has to offer, I loved it and would return in a heartbeat.

Address: Beaumont St, Oxford OX1 2LN
Phone: 0344 879 9132