Newest Review: ... purpose, there are not that many internal staircases to the upper floors of the Malmaison and the easiest way to reach them is by lift. T... more
You won't want to break free from this prison!
Malmaison Hotel (Oxford)
Member Name: sassypat456
Malmaison Hotel (Oxford)
Advantages: Unusual setting, stylish, classy
*Restaurant only review*
As our glitzy hen party descended upon the Malmaison in Oxford I was very relieved to note a sense of class, as having never been on a hen night before, I had imagined all sorts of tackiness and debauchery!
Thankfully I was able to leave my anxiety and sense of dread at the door and relax into a great evening at this unusual eaterie.
A former Victorian jail, the Malmaison has been designed to retain the original features and character of the building, whilst adding a luxury never before seen in a prison. A tall order, but one that is pulled off with flair and elegance.
The hotel is set in Oxford city centre, around ten minutes walk from the train sation, and situated on a lovely pedestrianised street with several other upmarket bars and restaurants dotted along the approach. This immediately sets the tone for the somewhat imposing, but strangely beautiful jewel of a building at the end of the walkway.
As our well-dressed party strutted into the lobby, we were immediately impressed by the striking brickwork, alcoves and hideaways and atmospheric lighting leading us into dark, cosy spaces.
We had paid for a private cell and so we were led into our little room, through a narrow doorway. The cell was quite small but neatly accommodated a long table where we all perched our bums ready to fill our rumbly tummies.
The cell itself was dimly lit, and had a high shelf along the wall, decorated in an old-fashioned way with lots of empty wine bottles. There was a glass door so we were completely seperate from the other diners and had a great deal of privacy.
I loved having a private booth, as it helped our group feel special and part of something a little bit quirky and different. The rest of the restaurant is more modern, and while beautifully decorated with sassy blue lighting and unusual artwork, it does not quite have the same charm as your own slice of historic penitentiary.
Each booth can cater for up to 30 people and all the food used in the menu is fresh and locally sourced where possible.
As we were a group of seventeen people, we opted for a set menu and my options were pate to start, a chicken dish for the main course and the lemon tart for dessert.
I was a little unsure of ordering the chicken liver pate as I am not usually a huge fan, but it was the best of the three options, and I'm pleased to say it was the best pate I have ever tasted. It was succulent and meaty and just salty enough, making it the perfect accompaniment to the little bits of posh toast it came with.
The main course was a fairly small portion and encompassed roasted chicken on a bed of garlic, onion and spinach plus a sprinkling of polenta which gave a lovely chewy texture and slightly nutty taste to the dish.
I cannot speak highly enough of the lemon tart which was the perfect combination of bitter and sweet sensations, tingling my taste buds and leaving me very satisfied.
Throughout our evening we were attended to courteously by the waiting staff who were polite and efficient but slightly surly. This didn't bother me as our service was exceptional and our meals and experience unspoilt.
The restaurant is to one side of the building so unfortunately there was no opportunity to visually devour the splendour of the main skeleton of the prison, which is meant to be exceptionally well designed, from what I have heard from other people and through travel articles.
Many of the original cells have also been spruced up to create luxury rooms, and the metal staircases, and thick heavy staircases have remained to create a stark, sombre feel with a twist of bittersweet style.
I would love to go back to the Malmaiosn some day with my husband to try out the hotel and its special suites, but it will have to be a long time in the future as I think the experience may be spoilt slightly by an excitable toddler!
I have to say this was a lovely experience and a great place to be confined for an evening!
Summary: Be cooped up in style!
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