I didn't know where we were going until the day, which was pretty exciting in itself. Paul then shared that the best part of this boutique hotel (and I believe is what sold it for him), was the fact it's a converted prison located in Oxford Castle Quarter, wow! The history is completely fascinating, and what were once prison cells are now 95 hotel rooms. With this in mind, I was so excited to stay, even pulling up to the hotel was a little bit special.
Upon arrival, we were instantly greeted from our car by a valet driver, offering to carry our bags and welcome us to the hotel. The professional and warm welcome did not go unnoticed. The reception area was unlike any I've seen in a hotel before; instead of desks, there are several large tables and chairs, giving you the opportunity to sit with the receptionist whilst you check-in. This style meant we felt really valued and not rushed at all through the process. In fact, Graciela managed to convince Paul to upgrade our room for a discounted price to a Cell Superior Double. With eight variations of rooms, we weren't too fussy, but we definitely wanted to pay the extra to be within the 'prison' area of the hotel. We also booked a time slot for dinner and had a porter take our luggage, whilst the valet drove our car to secure underground parking. Check in was very smooth and stress-free.
We had an hour or so to kill before our room was ready, so decided to go for lunch and mooch around Oxford. We stopped by the Ashmolean Museum and the Andy Warhol exhibition which is currently on. Once we returned, Graciela was quick to remember our faces, showed us to the lift and walked us to our room through the original prison railings and architecture. We were located on the 4th floor in room 124 and it was absolutely amazing. I was really impressed with how they'd kept the original features of the door, high ceiling and windows, yet added a touch of class and style.
My personal favourite element was the bathroom. With a roll-top bath, walk-in power shower and underfloor heating (heaven on my toes!), I was skipping around in my bath robe for the rest of the afternoon and evening. They even had their own brand of fig & olive toiletries which I loved so much I cheekily took them home (although they do encourage you to keep them!). The room had all the standard elements you'd expect plus, handy items like an iron, ironing board, hairdryer, tea & coffee facilities and apparently wi-fi, although I have to be honest I couldn't get onto this from our room. The bath was big enough for us both, but even had a little caddy if you wanted to read a book or kindle. We enjoyed our own bottle of English sparkling wine, before getting dressed up (Paul looked exceptionally handsome in a suit!) and headed to dinner at the hotel restaurant.
I wasn't going to review the restaurant as it probably warrants its own post, and as the drinks were flowing, I didn't photograph the venue or our meal (although check out my Instagram @brogantatexo for a peak!). I did however want to highlight that the service did not stop at reception and our meal was absolutely brilliant. We went down to the bar half an hour prior to our reservation to enjoy a cocktail or two. I chose the Valentine Rose, a mix of Veuve Clicquot Champagne, raspberry and rose cordial, lavender bitters and a sugar cube. So tasty. Paul had a Negroni. We were seated for dinner, but I didn't particularly notice the restaurant having many 'prison' elements, despite being on the ground floor of the hotel. However, it did had a very nice atmosphere, lighting and friendly service.
Paul is a Sommelier (a wine expert, basically), so we bought our own bottle of red to enjoy. For dessert, we shared the Mal hot chocolate; white chocolate & vanilla ice cream, marshmallows & hot chocolate sauce. Delicious.
I thoroughly enjoyed our meal and although expensive, it was a very special treat from Paul which I will remember for a long time. Overall, I was particularly impressed with the service at reception, the cleanliness throughout the hotel and loved the original prison elements. The room was gorgeous, although did feel small for an upgraded Superior room. The bathroom was the very best I've experienced at a hotel, I'm still not over the underfloor heating which was on 24/7! Massive thank you to Paul for treating me to a wonderful stay and of course, the team at the Malmaison for making it special. They have several hotels in cities across the country, so we'll be making it our mission to try another one again in the future!
You can book into the Malmaison here, but I also filmed our stay for my weekly vlog too (which I upload every Monday at 6pm!), so be sure to watch from 25:56 below.
Lots of love,