Malmaison Oxford Castle
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(Photos to follow in a couple of days) We woke to beautiful sunshine and gusty winds, perfect fall weather. After breakfast on board the couples split up for the morning, each going our own ways prior to meeting for lunch. Jackie & I did the market square, a warren of shops inside and outside, where we found a tea and coffee shop. Loose teas in large tin jars and blended coffees from all over the world. We bought some Ethiopian pea berry ...
... we managed without a glitch. The first mooring at Oxford didn't feel very comfortable and since a bigger boat hadn't come back downriver, we decided that we could get under a 10'6" bridge. It wasn't so much the height as the curvature that was challenging as we needed to be right in the middle of the channel. The reward was beautiful moorings right in the heart of ...
... to help students find their new classes, so groups of students were wandering around lost all morning. Totally crazy morning. Not that any of this bothered me much, since I was in bed, asleep, because I'd set my alarm for 7:30PM rather than 7:30AM. Yes, while my comrades in arms were running around like wild chickens I was snoozing away, trapped in a horrible nightmare in which I was a victimized female basketball coach in a Lifetime movie. Fortunately a ...
... there was much more Victorian. Christ Church is the most impressive, and looks more like a palace than a school.
After our tour of Keble and Somerville we had brunch at a café, then headed back to Pembroke. I went on duty at 1PM, and Adam and Kate both wanted to go to the Holi Festival. The Holi Festival is an annual Hindu festival of colors, and Oxford hosts one every year. The basic idea is that everyone involved ...
... the shop workers had their faces painted and were dressed up. So instead of two Oxfordians, we were served by the field mouse and the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. The city was very busy as families were out having fun doing the activities for the day, but this made the streets very crowded. On the way back to the house, we stopped at an ice cream wagon and purchased hand made ice cream for the rest of our walk and it was delicious!
How has this hotel rated in the past?
Historical Traveler Reviews Malmaison Oxford Castle
Major disappointment staying at this hotel. We booked instead of staying at our usual hotel the Old Bank. Our daughter had specifically visited the hotel to make sure we were booked into a cell room in the main wing area. When we arrived, we found a reception area - if that is what you can really call it - more akin to the Little Britain travel agent sketch. The room we were given - room 102 - was so dark that the only way we could read a newspaper or anything other than at the desk was to remove the lampshade from the standard lamp. This made it marginally better. Everywhere in this hotel is dark. Not a place to stay if you need to read anything.
My husband and I decided to 'honeymoon' at the Malmaison Oxford Castle, feeling that this magnificent converted prison would make a grand setting to begin our 'life sentence' together. It certainly did not disappoint.
The teething problems continue...
In summary, it is clear that Malmaison do some things very well but others poorly. The hotel itself is a stunning and sensitive conversion of a former prison, managing to retain the signature Malmaison style and blend it successfully with the form of the original building - the menacing facade,internal galleries and vaulted stone cells (3 per room). The bathrooms are good, the decor stylish and the minibar replete.
However service, though generally prompt, is a little awkward - be warned it costs an extra £20 to leave your car overnight and you might have to wait a while for the valet to locate it again at the end of the trip. Also beware the breakfasts - expensive and bland - how difficult can it be to cook an egg properly?
I've been lucky enough to stay in some of the best hotels in the world and can honestly say that this is the best I've ever experienced.
Stayed 2 nights at the Mal Oxford. Check in is easy and you get to sit on comfy seats while they check you in on their ultra slinky flat screened computers. All the staff here seem to be very good looking too! Small lounge with papers, books and TV on ground floor. Lower ground has a small-ish bar and the brasserie but would advise booking as they were fully booked all weekend, smelled lovely. 3rd floor has the visitors room which is a very high ceilinged room with drinks and high backed chairs in dark blues. Looks like Harry Potter should stroll in at any moment. Our room was in the original prison section - A-wing, room 128. The only conceivable fault with this room is that the lift was very close-by and it beeps loudly when first pressed and then again when it comes. This beeping can be heard very clearly in the room and all through the night as people come and go. I ended up using foam earplugs and this did the trick. The room had it's original cell door and a beam in the middle of the room where the 2 cells have been merged. The bed was massive and comfy with loads of pillows and a super soft duvet. The original cell windows had custom made wooden shutters. There was original lighting all over the room which made it look cosy and romantic. The bathroom lighting was wonderful and there was an option for only having a small light by the bath and one on the wall which was like having a candle-lit bath - sumptuous! The mini bar had loads of nice soft drinks - pago orange, old fashioned lemonade as well as coke, real ale in a bottle, a 700ml bottle of Malmaison white wine and some chocolate milk. There was also a bottle of red wine on a tray along with 2 large wine glasses and a corkscrew. The wine costs £12.95 to buy from the room which is quite reasonable. There was a large flat screen TV and DVD player cunningly hidden away underneath and the room had a CD already in it with ambient tunes. You could hire CD's and DVD's from reception, they put £20 on your bill then take it off when you return them. We watched Mr and Mrs Smith in bed - great! The bathroom also has a lovely heated tile floor, a funky square sink which takes a while to figure out and the biggest power shower. The toiletries were: Large shower gel, large body lotion and grapefruit soap. There was also a shower cap and facecloth but no shampoo or bubble bath which would have been nice. The wardrobe had a safe, plenty of hangers, a full sized ironing board, iron, proper hairdryer with many settings, show shine mitt, large mugs and a selection of teas, coffees and hot chocolates and a kettle. There was only one small drawer on the desk and a small shelf in the wardrobe so ended up using floor of wardrobe for smalls etc. Lighting quite dim in main bedroom so need to use bathroom for putting on make-up etc. Room service took 20 minutes. We ordered a burger with fries, the fries were home made and gorgeous, the burger was lovely too. Check out is noon so there is plenty of time to get ready and snooze. They are happy to keep your luggage till you are ready to come back and get it. The location is excellent being on the main street for shopping and near loads of bars and restaurants. My only tip about restaurants would be to book for meals as most were full and we tried loads till we got in. There were lovely places in the courtyard near the hotel - Carluccios which does decent Italian food and also does nice breakfasts. There is a Tootsies which does lunch and dinner - burger type fare. There is a Pizza Express, a Ha Ha Bar and Canteen, a tapas bar, a Prezzo and Living Room bar and coming soon in March a Krispy Creme doughnut shop. We will definitely be returning to this hotel - never spent so much time in our room!
The best thing about this hotel is it's location, style and quirkiness. It couldn't be more central - at the end of New road, one of the main shopping streets, 5 minutes from the heart of Oxford and a 5 minute walk from the station. It has the characteristic dramatic Malmaison style with restful tones and big chairs. Its quirkiness comes from being an ex-prison. I'd recommend taking a room in the A wing which is the original prison and has the most charachter. We in fact down-sized from the suite when we got there, as it was a small, modern split level room. There was actually less room in the bedroom in the suite than in the A wing room (£160).
Sumptious conversion of this former prison, has been very tastefully done to provide a stunning centre-piece to this revamped area of Oxford. The hotel had only been open for 3 weeks, so staff were still finding their feet, but were very freindly and helpful. Although I checked in at 4pm, our room wasn't ready, however we were offered an alternative suite, but we waited for the original prison cell room, and it was worth the wait. Prison rooms are converted from 3 cells, all very tastefully done with sumptuous bathroom. Lighting in the room is very moody, or could also be described as dim! In room DVD player was a nice touch, with DVDs on loan from reception. Teething troubles with the minibar not working were quickly rectified, with an ice bucket and chilled wine. The visitors room, which is a resident's lounge offers a snooker table, comfy chairs and very relaxed chill out area. The roof terrace will be great in summer, although not yet completed, nor was the fitness area, although I believe it should be done by the end of the year. A must stay location if you get the chance.
Unique and Stunning
This converted prison is stunning. Brand new, well planned and decorated rooms, perfect location.
A real treat for an 'Adult Weekend' with large comfy beds, large showers and LCD TVs & DVD player.
The lack of parking will put some people off but that is Oxford all over - get the Park & Ride!
This is a clever conversion of the former Oxford Prison and the rooms are nicely converted. However, our stay was marred by:
Wow- this was the the best (and definately most swanky) hotel I've ever stayed in. Can't reccomend it enough. Spotless, stylish and gorgeous rooms with mood lighting. Lovely bed with 100% cotton sheets, giant cusions & throws. Spacious bathroom with panhead showers & big bath. The staff were uber-helpful & polite. We had a standard double room and were bowled over by how lovely it was. Its really unusual too as its in an old castle and one time prison. They have done an excellent job of renovating. Its also in a great location, really close the the city centre (about 3 min walk & your in the hub of things. It was just lovely in everyway (your even encouraged to take the high quality toiletries with you. It is expensive but I think worth it. Bear in mind this sort of hotel is normally just out of my price range so my gushing review come from the perspective of someone who hasn't stayed in many hotels in this price-bracket. But I have stayed in lots of hotels across the globe generally & I can't see what someone wouldn't find lovely about it?!