Graduate Hotels, a collection of handcrafted hotels in university-anchored cities across the U.S., has debuted its first-ever set of hotels in Europe in the British university towns of Cambridge and Oxford. Graduate Cambridge and The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels have officially opened their doors for overnight stays with food and beverage outlets to follow later this month.
Inspired by the world-famous academic reputation and unique traditions of the cities and universities, both Graduate Hotels properties offer design rooted in storytelling, distinct food and beverage experiences and a range of programming and events with local partners hosted year-round. Crafted for local neighbours and students, regional alums and weekenders and international travellers alike, Graduate Cambridge and The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels both seek to celebrate the dynamic communities they are positioned within.
“Our team is humbled to be launching the Graduate Hotels brand in two of the most historic and prestigious university communities in the world,” said Ben Weprin, Graduate Hotels founder, and CEO. “The legacies that these iconic destinations represent drive the ethos of what inspires us to create memorable spaces to be enjoyed for generations to come. We look forward to welcoming global travellers for a uniquely Graduate experience in these centuries-old, one-of-a-kind cities.”
Graduate Hotels has partnered with restaurant developer, White Rabbit Projects to launch all food and beverage outlets at Graduate Cambridge and The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels. White Rabbit Projects is behind some of the most exciting hospitality concepts in the U.K. including Kricket, Lina Stores and Island Poké. With input from local suppliers throughout the regions, the range of culinary offerings will encompass restaurant, bar and café concepts.
Positioned along the idyllic banks of the River Cam, the 148-room Graduate Cambridge is surrounded by the University of Cambridge, within walking distance of several colleges, and a stone’s throw from the city’s best restaurants, bars and shops. The hotel has undergone a complete interior renovation that includes all rooms, common spaces, fitness club and pool. A ground floor conversion has seen the addition of a café and bar, as well as the renovation of the full-service restaurant, which opened on September 10.
Led by Graduate Hotels’ in-house interior design studio, the hotel’s design incorporates the history of the city, making the river the focal point with various accessible views, especially in the lobby bar. Colour palettes, patterns and textures in the public areas reflect the green surroundings of fields and the pastoral English countryside. With the punting boat rentals located just outside, the design brings local inspiration into the hotel, with life-size punting boats incorporated in the bookshelves in the lobby, a statement installation by local craftsmen.
The lobby is also home to a hanging DNA installation to celebrate Rosalind Franklin, a pioneer in the development of DNA at the University of Cambridge. The guest rooms see splashes of “Cambridge Blue.” Key design details include wallpaper depicting school gates, bedside built-ins reimagined as punting boats, whimsical lamps in the shape of a penny coin, as well as striking wood and leather desks to give the rooms a studious feel. Bathrooms feature scenic pastoral wallpaper and mirrors in the shape of the university crest.
Food & Beverage
Garden House is the new contemporary restaurant within the hotel, nestled on the banks of the River Cam. Adam Wood, formerly of London’s award winning Perilla, will lead the kitchen with his focus on open-flame cooking and seasonal East Anglian produce. Garden House is a seasonable contemporary restaurant in one of Britain’s most cherished and historic cities. Set within the Graduate Cambridge, Garden House acknowledges a local continuity by remembering the original Garden House Hotel which stood on the same site for much of the 20th century. Wood’s menu is largely flame focussed, with seasonally changing dishes. Alongside Garden House, Graduate Cambridge also offers Garden Bar. The large, oval bar nestled in the centre of the hotel includes a café, flexible gathering areas and al fresco dining spaces all developed and operated in partnership with White Rabbit Projects.
Local Partnerships and Events
Graduate Cambridge will partner with Scudamore’s, who provide award-winning Cambridge punting tours and boat hire services, to offer afternoon tea and a private punt experience. The hotel will also partner with Cambridge Distillery to host a ticketed Gin Dinner with paired courses designed by chef Adam Wood to complement the gin notes.
In November, in partnership with Cambridge Jazz Festival, the hotel will host a jazz event including dinner and a show, followed by regular live music nights at Garden House. Finally, Garden House will introduce “yappy hour” alongside animal shelter Wood Green to encourage guests to bring their four-legged friends for stays.
Nightly rates at Graduate Cambridge in a double room start from £189 inclusive of VAT. For more information, please visit https://www.graduatehotels.com/cambridge/
The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels
Located in the city’s cultural epicentre, The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels is within close walking distance to the University of Oxford and its iconic colleges, including Trinity and St. John’s. The hotel is also close to St. Giles Street, as well as the world-famous Radcliffe Camera and Ashmolean Museum. The design of the 151-room hotel takes inspiration from the university’s history, paying homage to its storied innovators and alumni. The hotel has undergone a complete renovation across all of the common spaces, the lobby and guest rooms, which includes a spa featuring treatment rooms, a sauna, steam room and jacuzzi, all of which will open in autumn 2021.
The hotel has relaunched with comprehensive interior renovations throughout all of the guest rooms, the lobby and common spaces. Led by Graduate Hotels’ in-house interior design studio, the design details at The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels include bold hues and architectural elements inspired by the hotel’s heritage and locally inspired art which tells the narratives of Oxford’s past. In-room art includes paintings of Oxford alumni and well-known author and playwright, Oscar Wilde, and a painting of the famous ‘Steamboat Ladies’ (1904-1097), tells the story of a group of over 700 women who travelled by a steamboat ferry to obtain degrees at a time when their own universities withheld graduation from female students.
Food & Beverage – Opening September 17
The Alice, a new all-day dining restaurant and bar, serving classic British dishes, will be set within The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels. Led by Executive Chef Chris Emery who has worked as Executive Sous Chef at Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social, and as Head Chef in Atherton’s The Clocktower in New York, The Alice is a collaboration between White Rabbit Projects and Graduate Hotels. The Alice, whose name is a nod to Oxford alumnus Lewis Carroll, will serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and pre-theatre dining. The restaurant will also provide menu inspiration for the other hotel hospitality spaces. Additional concepts include The Snug, The Morse Bar and the informal lounge and dining spaces, The Drawing Room and The Lancaster Room (the latter rooms will open in autumn 2021), where the signature afternoon tea will be served. Preserving the building’s heritage, The Morse Bar – a local favourite – has been restored and remains within the hotel.
Local Partnerships and Events
The Randolph Hotel is partnering with Oxford Artisan Distillery to host a gin tasting session paired with four courses by Chef Chris Emery. The hotel will also host a whisky tasting to live music with inspired food pairings from Emery.
On the wellness front, an interactive, “make your own soap” and blended lotions class will be led at the hotel by the Oxford Soap Company, as well as a floral workshop by The Garden of Oxford. The Oxford Cheese Company will host a series of cheese tastings paired with English wine, and Scriptum will host an ink-making class.
Nightly rates at The Randolph Hotel in a double room start from £229 inclusive of VAT. For more information, please visit https://www.graduatehotels.com/oxford-uk/
Founded by CEO Ben Weprin in 2014, Graduate Hotels currently has 30 U.S. locations in addition to the two new U.K. properties. Owned by Adventurous Journeys (AJ) Capital Partners, Graduate Hotels’ properties in Oxford and Camdbridge join AJ Capital’s growing portfolio of hotels throughout the U.K. AJ Capital additionally owns and operates Marine & Lawn, a collection of bespoke hotels in the world’s most distinguished golfing destinations. The inaugural properties recently launched with Rusacks Hotel in St Andrews, Scotland and Marine North Berwick in North Berwick, Scotland, and will be followed by Marine Troon in Troon, Scotland.