“ Address: 1 Wharfside Street / Birmingham / B1 1RD / England / Tel: 0044 (0) 121 246 5000 „
I stayed in Malmaison for a four day training course last week and I wasn't going to write a review because it is so similar to the one I wrote on Malmaison London, I would have just repeated myself. However, there were quite a few little things that could have been improved with the meeting facilities and I thought I had to air my views!
Ok, so briefly I will write about the room. As we booked through work I assume we only had a standard double room, but it was so much bigger than the one we had in London. The bed was huge and there was a lot of walk round space in the bedroom. There was a large desk with broadband internet access - either from a cable or wireless, a large TV, CD player and a really big wardrobe. It was really comfortable and was air conditioned. The only thing was that the window was quite small and overlooked the Mailbox, but this was a minor fault.
The bathroom had everything I would have expected - a really large bath with a shower over and a large sink with plenty of space for lots of toiletries. On the first night I had a face cloth, which I used and it wasn't replaced the next 2 days which was a bit disappointing.
**The Meeting Room**
All the meeting rooms are on the same floor which makes it easy to find, however it does also create some problems when all the meeting rooms are in use. There are 5 meeting rooms in total and I am not sure how many they can fit into each room. On the first day we had a group of about twenty and then we moved to a smaller room for the next 3 days as we went down to only 8 people.
The rooms are well equipped. We had 2 flip charts, a data projector and screen and there were pens and paper provided as well. Our course was computer based so they had set up 5 terminals that we could all work from. These all had internet access but we did find that they were quite ancient and the internet connection was very slow. Also, if we all clicked on the same thing and the same time when instructed, all the computers crashed and had to be refreshed. Eventually we learnt to do it in turns to make things quicker.
There was also plenty of glasses and bottles of water on the table and there was also a small mini bar at the back of the room which was stocked with coke and red bull. I think this was a brilliant idea as by the end of the week I was sick of drinking tea and water and would have killed for a red bull, even if it was to keep me awake! They were quite expensive but if the whole group wanted one you could buy 6 for £10.
One of the things I noticed was the air conditioning. All the meeting rooms are air conditioned and there is a control panel at the back of the room if you wish to change it or turn it off. On the second day we were all shivering and we went to turn it up but nothing happened. Then we went to turn it off for our lunch break so the room would warm up, but when we came back an hour later it was still blowing out cold air even though the panel was off!
On the second day the room was too warm and then on the next 2 days it was cold again. I think the temperature of the room is very important, especially if you are sitting in it for a lengthy period of time, and they just couldn't get this right.
**The Breakout Area**
Outside the meeting rooms is a large communal area with sofas and arm chairs which is used as a breakout area for tea and coffee breaks and for lunch. Again, I think it is important to have somewhere to break to, especially if the course goes on for a long time like ours did.
However, this is what caused the most problems. First of all, this area was also air conditioned, so having been shivering away in the meeting room, we went out for our coffee break and were still cold. Being the beginning of October, is air conditioning really needed at all?
Also, as mentioned above, when there are lots of meetings going on at once this area can get very crowded. Even with the 8 of us we had to spread out over 4 sofas in order to be able to sit and have lunch. This wasn't too much of a problem as our lunch breaks didn't clash with anyone else's and I assume they stagger them so they don't have this problem.
On the second day it was clear that all the rooms were occupied because each drinks station had a sign next to it saying which group it was for. This really helped as although we knew which station was ours, groups who were on their first day might not have been so sure.
However, for the afternoon coffee break all the signs had been taken down and we came out of our meeting to find someone else drinking our tea and coffee! So we went to another station which had also been set up and took drinks from there, only to find that meeting came out and there were almost fisticuffs as they were appalled we were drinking their coffee. I don't know why the signs had been taken down when there were clearly lots of meetings going on and I also don't know why the other group assumed that was their drinks station when they had been using a different one earlier!
Each day we had a buffet lunch provided as part of the meeting package. It was a hot and cold buffet and consisted of mini fish and chips, salads, mini mal burgers, cold meats and open sandwiches.
On the first day it was really nice. On the second day it had changed slightly, with the sandwich toppings being different and slightly different salads, but that was about it. By the end of the week I was bored. It was the same everyday. Surely if they know a group is in for four consecutive days they can create some variety? Just thinking about it now makes me feel sick and I am glad if I will never see another Malmaison buffet for a long time.
Don't get me wrong it was really nice food, but it just needed some variety in what was being offered. Also some sort of dessert or sweet would have been nice.
There also wasn't anything offered to drink with lunch. We had our glasses of water in the room, but some juice would have been nice and it would have made a change to the water and tea we were drinking all week!
Overall I had a really comfortable stay, it was just the meeting facilities that put me off. There were so many things that could have been improved and even though it is meetings, and separate to the rooms side of the hotel, you are still providing a service and being hospitable. In order to provide a good service the customers' expectations need to be exceeded and I really don't think they were in this case. I will quite happily stay again but don't want to attend another meeting here!
Mmmmmm Malmaison... delushious. I stayed in September this year.
Well a few years ago maybe... I have to stay in Birmingham twice a year for work, there is a usually a team of us, ranging from 4-10 depending on the day. Our business has a budget and in previous years we would not have been able to afford the Malmaison... so we have walked past and looked longingly at the hotel on our way to a less lovely bed for the night.
This year however they gave us a call and after a bit of haggling we got them down to £99 per person, per night, including breakfast. We were quite excited. Malmaison has an excellent reputation and has only a 10 'Boutique' hotels around the country (Belfast, Edinburgh, London see www.malmaison.com for further details).
The picture shown is not from The Mal's best side. The hotel is situated within the exclusive Mailbox development close to New Street station. Harvey Nichols has a store there along with other great designer stores, Emporio Armarni, Hugo Boss, and Bang & Olufsen to name a few. There are also many places to eat, including Spanish, Mexican, Italian & Japenese food from a variety of well known chains. All were busy and the waiit for most tables was 40 mins.
Myself and 2 others arrived about 5pm, check-in was fast and courteous, they gave us all the usual information and offered the usual extras, newspapers, wake up calls etc. Reception is decorated in a beautiful colours; plums, mushrooms, dark grey mirrors along with plenty of comfy chairs and tables around enabling you to meet up with people easily.
From there we caught one of about 5 lifts (they are quite small) up to our rooms. My room was on the third floor, I had a great view of Brum, sadly the windows didn't open though (pet hate). The room itself was a great size, lots of useful bits; iron & board, hair dryer, stereo, TV, radio. The mini bar was well stocked and not over priced. In the lovely clean bathroom the soap smelled gorgeous, there was also huge (250ml!) Mal branded shampoo & separate conditioner. No shower gel though, so if i didn't have my own I would have to borrow the soap from the sink. Plenty of thick fluffy white towels to wrap up in. Mmmm toasty. And the water pressure was excellent.
We met downstairs and went to the bar for a couple of drinks. The Mal bar is very much for non residents as much as hotel guests. There were lots of people there having a post shopping glass of wine, laden with Selfridges bags and suffering from tired feet. We had a fantastic French rose wine, I can't recall the name, but it cost around £22.95, and was well worth it - crisp and clean tasting it went down well!
The next day was Sunday and we had to leave by eight - but breakfast didn't start until then. We had a word with reception who offered us their 'Breakfast Box' at no additional charge (usually about £10), excellent customer service since there was 8 of us who needed it. The breakfast box was outside my room at the time i requested and was far beyond what i had expected. It included cereal, croissant, pain au chocolat, jam, honey, marmalade, butter, fruit salad. There was already a selection teas and coffee in the room, actually it was the best Earl Grey i have ever tasted, Woods of Harrogate was the brand. All presented in a huge wicker basket with proper cutlery and linen napkins. Very nice.
The next morning we made proper breakfast, there was a great buffet with all the usual juice, cereals, fruit, yoghurt, fresh honeycomb (mmm bit waxy!) but it all seemed to have a luxurious feel to it. There was also a hot breakfast menu, I chose Eggs Benedict. The eggs were perfect, the sauce was light and fluffy, muffin was slathered in butter and the bacon tasty. The only other thing I can recall was porridge - my colleague had that and it was a salty one, a first for me but it was creamy and well seasoned - if I had stayed another day I would have had that too!
I can't comment on check out because someone else did it for me!
I would certainly stay at The Mal again, the hotel is sumptuous and i had nothing but good service from cheerful happy staff. My only comment is that it is slightly dated now, but only in the the room had a mini disc player and the décor had seen better days. I'm sure its up for a refit soon. But i guess thats why we got such a good rate.