Sadly this is not a glowing review of the Malmaison in Reading, I really wish it was.
At the end of a very stressful week last week came a little tunnel of light in the shape of a very good friend’s hen do. A private room at Malmaison had been booked for eight of us to have dinner before going on somewhere else for some more drinking and dancing.
The Malmaison group pride themselves on providing boutique rooms so as a bit of a treat Mr B logged on to Late Rooms and booked a room so I didn’t have to drive home afterwards and could enjoy a drink. Mr B was looking forward to spending some time watching TV and having a nice bottle of wine, trying to unwind after a worrying few days with his dad and as we were child free for the weekend this would be a nice treat. Clearly not invited on the hen do (though the chief bridesmaid is a man. Long story)
Checking in was very straight forward and I was shown to our room which was clean and well presented, if a tad dark. Malmaison seems to pride itself on dark and moody, which is great but if I was staying for a while I would find it quite oppressive I think.
That done it was down to the bar and extensive cocktail menu. Oooh don’t mind if I do.
Is there parking at Malmaison Reading?
Our arrival at the private dining room was somewhat delayed as some of our party tried to find how to get to the car park. There is no parking at this particular hotel, but instead you have to park in the nearby NCP. A discounted rate is offered but getting into it is complicated. Do your homework on your route before you leave home and don’t head to the hotel, and then to the car park would be my suggestion.
The dining room is lovely, has its own music and a TV screen for presentations should you be using it for a business meeting.
We had all pre-ordered from a set menu in the week before so there were no issues with food, which all arrived promptly.
A bit pricey at £30 for three courses when starters were either soup or a small salad but that is a minor quibble.
I did take issue, however, with the bread. We were asked if we would like some bread and three lovely boards arrived with a small baguette cut into six slices. It was only later that we discovered these are £4.50 each. Each. £4.50!!! Now I know you cannot compare a French stick that you can buy in Sainsbury’s but really I did think this was over the top. Shame we had six of these before we found out how much they cost.
The real downer on the evening however was trying to pay the bill. The drinks bill was presented separately and had to be paid for separately. There were drinks on there that we hadn’t had and this then had to sorted out before we could pay. Then we discovered that the card machine wasn’t working and the only way to pay was to go to Reception. A real pain. Especially then as some people wanted to pay on their cards and were going to have to do things twice.
It took about 20 minutes to get this resolved by which time the party mood was somewhat flat.
Some members of the group decided they were going to make a move and go home and others were going to go next door to another bar. The stragglers were then approached and told we had underpaid. Something we knew to not be true.
And something that has really left a sour taste, I am afraid.
All in all really not the experience we were looking forward to so much. Especially the hen who used to work in Reading but has now moved to Lincolnshire so had spent five hours driving down that morning.
The following morning Mr B and I discovered a few other niggles with our room.
Booking Malmaison Reading through Late Rooms
Booking through Late Rooms the deal Mr B had gone for included a bottle of house wine and he had put in the notes that if possible could we have white and not rose. Sadly the wine was not in the room and we were told “oh yes this sometimes happens with Late Room bookings, you don’t get what you think you booked”. It is not what we think we booked, we have the confirmation email! It was rectified but a shame that it wasn’t seamless.
What are the rooms at the Malmaison Reading like?
The room was also quite noisy. Nothing the hotel can do about that as it is situated right in the centre of Reading by the train station. If you are going, take ear plugs.
And a fan. The room was very warm.
The kettle in the room is in a cupboard and therefore not plugged in. Nor is there a plug anywhere near it so to plug it in you have to put it on a small leather couch, not ideal and surely hot mugs would also mark.
The hair dryer that is provided has to be plugged in under the desk. There is no plug at desk height so you have to get on the floor to plug it in, meaning the lead is only just long enough.
Does the Malmaison Reading have free Wi-Fi?
There is free internet in the room which is great. But it is not wi-fi. So those people with iPads are stuck. And as more and more people move away from laptops this is a shame.
There is no shampoo. Lovely body lotion and another of conditioner but nothing that said shampoo. All over body wash maybe, but no mention if you can use it on your hair. Which I thought was odd.
I did like little touches like being able to ask for fresh milk to be delivered to the room for tea so you can avoid the UHT. Shame I missed it until the next morning though. A sign at reception might be an idea.
Other innovative ideas are the quick breakfast idea for those in a hurry: bacon sandwich, tea or coffee and juice for £5.95.
So overall, sadly, I have to say because of the issues over the bill on the Saturday it really took the shine off what should have been a stress free treat.
Shame really as we were looking to trying out the Mal in Oxford next month but will have to think again now. And next time we want to stay in a hotel will probably just stick to Premier Inns
Chalkboard photo courtesy of Shutterstock