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A great time on the Tyne
Malmaison Hotel (Newcastle)
Member Name: sarajackson
Malmaison Hotel (Newcastle)
Date: 05/03/05, updated on 14/03/05 (1349 review reads)
Advantages: Good location, Trendy rooms, Really good food
Disadvantages: Service a little patchy, No non smoking bar, Nothing else
We booked our one night stay quite a few months in advance and found the responses to our e-mail queries very helpful and efficient. We booked a Chateau Suite at a rate of £165 per night excluding breakfast. We toyed with the idea of booking a normal room, but this being our first trip away with our 3 month old daughter and having just come from Slaley Hall staying in a spacious lodge, we thought we might appreciate some extra space. At weekends you can get a standard room for around £100 including breakfast.
The Malmaison is situated on the Newcastle Quayside just a stones throw away from the new Millennium footbridge. It is housed in an an attractive old warehouse building which gives the hotel a lot of character. There is car parking in the public car park behind which is a little inconvenient, but at £2 for the day can’t really be sniffed at.
We arrived in the morning and went to see if our room was ready which it was unfortunately not. When we arrived back after 3pm we still had a little wait, which with a small baby wanting her feed was starting to become a bit annoying, but soon enough we were given our key and were on our way. The check in staff were quick and efficient despite the room not being ready. Our dinner reservation was not mentioned when we checked in however, which you may have expected from other service-orientated hotels..
We had requested a room at the front of the hotel, although I am unsure if any of the Chateau Suites actually are. Our room was actually at the side looking along the River Tyne towards the Tyne Bridge so actually was a very nice view, although a view across the Millennium Bridge would have been even nicer! We noticed when we checked in that the cot we had requested was not in the room, but a quick phone call rectified this and a strange laundry cart type contraption arrived that was masquerading as a cot!
In our large square open plan suite, the décor was very ‘now’ with neutral beige and cream striped carpets and curtains, cream walls and very dark brown chequered effect furniture. The artistic edge of these hotels though was shown by the little touches, black and white framed local photos on the walls, fresh exotic flowers, black and white striped tall headboard and chequered cushions setting off the crisp white bed linen as well as the almost obligatory woollen throw. The windows also had natural blinds and the room benefited from a large black sofa and subdued lighting. The room contained the normal facilities plus a CD player and air conditioning. These touches certainly set it apart from the Hotel du Vin we stayed at in Winchester where we didn’t even have a clock!
The bathroom was large and it was great to have a large separate shower. It seemed a very Malmaison bathroom, quite sleek and sexy.
Although we were being accompanied by our daughter, we still weren’t prepared to forego our usual pre-dinner cocktails, but unfortunately there was no non smoking area in the bar, but the helpful bar tender found us a spot at the edge of the bar near the restaurant where we wouldn’t be bothered by smoke. The bar was very intimate and cosy with subdued lighting – very classy. I didn’t hesitate long before choosing a Kir Royale, my very favourite when it is done well, which it most definitely was, carefully poured with the champagne resting at the top. The price of £8.95 wasn’t shocking either. My husband chose the house champagne which was veuve Cliquot, and fairly reasonably priced at £7.95.
Before we left the bar, our daughter had fallen asleep – fantastic, so we then made our way through to the restaurant. This had windows on about three sides, giving a good view of the surrounding frivolities outside. And with Newcastle there usually is some good people-watching to do! Unusually for us we both opted for the set menu at £12.95 for 2 courses. I chose the Plum Tomato Stack with Parmesan and Rocket. This could have been uninspiring and bland but was actually perfect, very tasty and really well executed.
For main course I chose Chicken with Mustard Mash which again was a huge surprise. I usually choose chicken when I am stuck for anything else and often I am underwhelmed. This was lovely though, the chicken was cooked just right and tasted like corn-fed. The mustard mash was an ideal accompaniment – I was well pleased. My husband chose the Trout for starter and the Risotto for main course. He was equally happy with his choices, although he was longingly watching the group of men on the next table tuck into a very appetising looking steak – their whole crab for starter looked equally inviting. Next time …. We both commented though that for a set menu this was outstanding. We tend not to choose the set/table D’Hote menus because you mostly end up feeling short changed and that you have been given less exciting food, but here that was not the case at all.
My Vanilla Ice Cream with Hot Valrhona Chocolate Sauce was the perfect end to the meal – such classic comfort food, that you don’t expect to find on a restaurant menu, and with the great chocolate sauce, it was just right.
When we were exploring on our way back to our room, we noticed an intriguing large room in the centre of the building on our floor, decked out like a private lounge. Our key card got us into it, but it didn’t appear to be used much. We enquired about it when we checked out and were told it was indeed ‘just’ a lounge area. It is a pity we weren’t made aware of it, as these private floors with lounges are so a la mode currently that Malmaison were really doing themselves a disservice not to brag about it. I notice now they do mention it on their website, so maybe it was a work in progress when we were there.
Our total bill, for the suite, dinner, wine and pre-dinner cocktails plus tips and parking came to just over £255. For a well respected city centre hotel with great food, this didn’t seem half bad to me.
I would definitely stay at a Malmaison again. We decided against it on a trip to Birmingham recently instead opting for the Hyatt mainly because of the swimming pool, but in hindsight I really wish we had stayed at the Malmaison. I would definitely stay next time I go to a City where a Malmaison operates. In my opinion, there is no comparison between the Hotel du Vin and Malmaison chains, one seems to rely on its upmarket trendy but somewhat shabby chic image, and the other just gives stylish, modern surroundings, with good service – I know which I prefer.
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