The Malmaison Hotel Oxford
I told you the story this week of an afternoon I spent in prison last year, having tea with a murderer.
Well this year I went to prison again. This time overnight.
It went something like this between J and I:
Mum I have been invited to a party in Oxford on Saturday night
Quick mental calculation in my head that Oxford is an hour and a half away
Translates as “great, so three hours of driving and I will have to find a restaurant to hang around in for four hours whilst J goes to a party”.
It is sort of an all night party so I need you to pick me up on Sunday morning
Whilst trying to remain cheerful that son has been invited to a party by some people I really like I am doing the driving calculations in my head.
Right, sod it I am booking a hotel in the old Oxford prison for Mr B and I.
And so it came to pass.
I arrived slightly flustered at check in at around 7.30pm, having had a stressful day. Little Miss E was accompanying us (long story, extra room booked) and I had been in charge of sorting out the dog, the house, the cats, both J and E and myself. Mr B you see had a pressing engagement at Wembley to watch England.
How is check in at Malmaison Oxford?
Check in was fabulous. All very straightforward. Did we need anything else. Did we want a newspaper etc etc. We couldn’t fault it. As we booked two rooms the hotel had also taken the trouble to make sure the rooms were as close as possible so we weren’t traipsing across the hotel to each other.
Is there parking at Malmaison Oxford?
My car was taken off to a secure car park (you MUST pre-book parking if you want a space) and we were given the keys to our rooms.
Mr B and I had a room in the old part of the prison, known as A Wing. These rooms are slightly more expensive than the rooms in the new “wing” but so worth it. Three cells have been converted into a bedroom (two of the cells) and the en suite was the size of one of the other cells, keeping as many of the original features as possible.
What are the rooms like at the Malmaison Oxford?
All the things you would expect in a hotel room where there, flat screen TV, tea and coffee, fab toiletries, free internet (though sadly not wireless so you cannot connect iPads etc to it, just a laptop). Along with other touches that Malmaison do so well, a bottle of wine (chargeable but a great idea, along with two glasses and a corkscrew) and lots of nibbles.
I love love loved that the original cell doors were still present
and I spent a quiet ten minutes just standing on the landing at 7am on Sunday morning. It wasn’t hard to imagine this as a prison. To hear that hollow sound of a prison. The rattling of keys. The sound of despair and hopelessness. It was surprisingly eerie to watch the Indpendent newspaper being delivered to so many rooms when previous residents had been anything but.
The bar is the old visitors room and again it retains a lot of the old features. And has some new touches. Like marmalade and elderberry Martinis. Oh my gosh. They were one of the best things I have drunk. And talking of drunk. No actually, let’s not.
We ate in the restaurant too. Downstairs, in more converted cells. All very dark and as it’s in the basement you can look up to the pavement through windows with bars on. Wooden floors really add to the feeling that this really was an old prison.
We opted for a bit of a treat for dinner and had the Chateaubriand. Gulp. I thought it was fabulous but despite asking for it to be medium rare it was definitely on the rare side and, therefore, a bit too pink for Mr B. And we did think it was a bit stingey that when spending £75 on a main course we were then charged £3 for a side order of fries as it only came with french beans.
Other than that it was all fabulous. As was breakfast the next day, something several people on Twitter had told us not to miss.
We had to leave early to get to London for the Jubilee celebrations so dragged ourselves out of bed to be in the restaurant as it opened.
It was on the way out of the restaurant that Mr B spotted a sign that said “Original Cell”. How brilliant that Malmaison have left one of them as it was, probably not originally in 1018, or when it was closed as a prison in 1996 but it certainly gives you an idea of just how cramped conditions were.
Built for one prisoner, in the seventies it housed three.
This cell took my breath away. It was tiny. And so far removed from the rooms upstairs that it was hard to believe it was the same building.
If you get a chance to stay then please do.
It was a real experience and I can’t wait to get locked up again!