No British hotel is quite so bound up with its home town as the Randolph (which we are now supposed to call the Macdonald Randolph since it fell under ownership of the Scottish hotel group).
You could blame this on Inspector Morse (an episode of the iconic ITV series was filmed here and Morse's creator, Colin Dexter, is a regular in the Morse Bar).However, the hotel was famous long before TV became the norm - it was a favourite for decades with Oxford's flamboyant academics.
Built in 1864, this resolutely old-fashioned establishment confers a pleasing sense of the Gothic. This is best seen in its magnificent staircase and the high-ceilinged dining room which serves fine lunches with an elegance befitting its two AA rosettes. But the great and the good of Oxford mostly take tea in the Drawing Room, sometimes with a glass of Möet, or huddle over donnish gossip in the wood-panelled Morse Bar.
Rooms are a little lacking in pzazz, though many have nice Savoy-style art deco bathrooms, and there are contemporary, if bland, decor options for guests who loathe dark period furniture. In-room DVD players on request are a welcome innovation.
The spa, buried in the basement, is a bit of an afterthought - but for all that, the Randolph is the place to stay in Oxford, and perfectly placed for the city's best attraction, the magnificent Ashmolean, which is opposite. Given a shortage of town parking, it is worth knowing the hotel has its own garage.
Rates: from £129
Phone: 0844 879 9132