Story & photos by Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling Gourmet TM
All rights reserved
The discerning and debonair Travelling Gourmet dines at the Randolph hotel, made infamous by the son of disgraced Communist Bo Xi Lai of the People’s Republic of China…
MICHELIN star restaurants in the top gastronomic capitals of the world are no stranger to me. The best ones have excellent service and that super-positive attitude that makes the guest feel welcome and very much at home. The same goes for the top hotels in the world. I have stayed in wonderful hotels like the magnificent Danieli in Venice, the Savoy in London, the elegant Mandarin Oriental in London, the venerable Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok, the Cavalieri Roma in Rome, the Four Seasons George V in Paris, and many, many more. Unfortunately, some of these establishments, like the Randolph, have staff who are arrogant and put on airs and graces which seem to say to the humble guest: “Look, Monsieur, we work for this super grand place so mind your manners, and if you are not rich, powerful or famous, hit the road Jack!” I experienced this on my first visit to the Randolph. I strolled in to recon the hotel, and the doorman and concierge were rather rude and disrespectful to me, but not so that you could make a big complaint about it…I wanted to see the Randoph because of the many adverse news reports in many respected international print and electronic media about the Randolph and Bo Xilai’s son. The reports from highly reliable sources stated that Bo Guagua aka Bo Guangyi, the son of disgraced and now jailed Chinese Communist Party big shot, Bo Xilai, used to have wild drunken parties, and orgies in the Randolph with his motley and devilishly dissolute friends. All this while he was a student in Oxford University. International Media reported that Bo struggled in his academic work, and was required to sit further exams to maintain his grades. According to classmates, Bo failed the exams, and was “rusticated” (suspended) for one year.Three Chinese diplomats went to see Dr Andrew Graham, the Master of Balliol College, and sought to have the rustication revoked, explaining that Bo’s academic probation would be a source of embarrassment to his father and grandfather in China. # http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/9201253/Neil-Heywood-mystery-Bo-Guagua-the-student-playboy-who-earned-contempt-of-tutors-and-forced-Chinese-diplomats-into-pleading-his-case.html The UK’s Daily Telegraph gave him the moniker “student-playboy”. This is an excerpt from The Daily Telegraph feature: “Mr Bo was later suspended from the university for a year, and lived in Oxford’s Randolph Hotel before moving into a flat which was said by a student newspaper to feature “taps of gold, a concierge and a small vineyard”.” See the link below for the New York Times take on Bo Guagua and his parents… http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/17/world/asia/bo-guaguas-parties-and-privilege-aggravate-elite-chinese-familys-fall.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
This is an excerpt from the NY Times article: “If you’re discreet, they look the other way,” the former government employee said. “But Guagua’s behavior was striking by the standards; urinating against a fence at Oxford, kissing foreign girls — it all goes down bad in China.”
Another excerpt : “He failed, several students said, and was suspended for a year. Barred from using campus facilities, he moved into the Randolph, a Victorian Gothic hotel where he continued to hold parties,” Another relevant link about Bo Guagua and the Randolph hotel… http://chinanews.bannedbook.org/201308/in-bo-xilais-trial-escapades-of-son-come-into-spotlight.html
Now Bo Guagua is in exile in the USA and his father, tipped to be China’s next Premier at one time…languishes in a spartan jail cell in China’s answer to the USSR’s “Gulag”…How are the mighty fallen…Bo Guagua’s mother, GuXilai cofessed to killing British citizen Neil Heywood, part time MI6 informer, and is now in jail too…Must be Karma… As for the student-playboy…time will slowly tell. As famed poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow puts it:
“Retribution” is a short poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
|Though the mills of God grind slowly; Yet they grind exceeding small; Though with patience He stands waiting, With exactness grinds He all.|
I find the Randolph’s entrance is very old school and not that grand compared to say, the Cavalieri Roma or the Hotel Danieli in Venezia or the Savoy in London or the Four Seasons on the Bosphorus in Istanbul… The famous Morse Bar where the fictional detective Inspector Morse hung out is nice enough but not that grand and somewhat small with lots of wood panelling. The hotel’s location is strategic. The Ashmolean Museum is just opposite. On a recent gastronomic safari in Europe, I decided to to return to the Randolph. This time, to try the food in the Randolph’s restaurant. Despite my first rather negative impression, I kept an open mind and this is what I experienced…
The dining room is very big. Nice crests of the Oxford Colleges decorate the walls. I liked that touch. I was pleased with my table by the window so I had a view of the street outside. The Ashmolean Museum is just opposite the hotel. The temperature was a bit too warm for my taste as I was in a bespoke suit. I always find that people in Europe always overheat their restaurants, whereas people in Asia always over cool their restaurants. One of life’s little ironies. The dinner was quite satisfactory. Of course, not up to, say the 3 Michelin Star standard of my good friend Chef Heinz Beck’s La Pergola in Rome, the Eternal City. The service too, although not outstanding was quite good and quite attentive. The serving staff thankfully, were not snooty and yahya papaya (Singapore slang for stuck up and arrogant) like some of the doormen at the main entrance.
To be continued…
Oxford, OX1 2LN
Tel: 800 120 5131
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