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“Unlike anywhere I have stayed before!” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Malmaison Oxford Castle

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Malmaison Oxford Castle
Ranked #6 of 44 Hotels in Oxford
Certificate of Excellence
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Unlike anywhere I have stayed before!”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 17, 2012 via mobile

My partner and I were coming to Oxford to see a concert, and on searching online for hotels close to the venue we decided on Malmaison as a treat, because the one-time-prison-now-boutique-hotel appealed to us. We arrived shortly after 4pm, it would have been sooner if we hadn't driven past it twice as it is tucked away. Not a major problem, but perhaps better signage is required? We were greeted by a very friendly valet who offered help with our luggage before parking our car. Inside, on first impression it is very dark....I understand this all part of the ambience, and the lighting was obviously well thought of to emphasise the buildings interior, but even on a sunny afternoon it was a little too gloomy for me. The girl on reception was very polite on check in, and directed us to the corridor that led to our room, but neglected to mention we would need to take the lift up four floors to get to it, so we did wander around for a few minutes before we managed to work this out. Again, not a major problem, but the receptionist could have been a little more specific. Our room was very nice, spacious (we were in the New Road rooms) with a super king size bed and had a small balcony. On going out onto it we discovered we were directly over a bar, and I was relieved it was a Monday and mid October, not a warm summer Friday evening when potentially there would be a lot of people directly below our bedroom window! However the doors were very thick and blocked out a lot of noise, not sure if I could say the same for the sound proofing qualities of the floor though. I must say the mini bar in the room was very well stocked, and not ridiculously overpriced like some other hotels. It did take a while to locate the hair dryer, which was sitting in its own little bag at the back of the wardrobe. The bathroom was lovely, with the largest bath I've ever seen and a shower with a head the size of a dinner plate! Needless to say, I took full advantage of both during our stay! The toiletries were a decent size and smelled lovely too! We did have a couple of tiny problems however, that was the bedspread had a dubious mark on it, so we took it off the bed and left it on the floor. Also the duvet could have done with being bigger, as it barely went over the sides of the mattress. As we were going out we decided to order room service instead of going to the restaurant. We ordered two salads which arrived within half an hour and were very tasty.
On returning from our concert venue, we went up to the third floor bar for cocktails. Again this room was too dark for me, I couldn't help wondering if people trip over the furniture! We were served promptly by the barman, and our cocktails were lovely. There is a TV on the wall in the bar, and while we were there, the channel showing was 'Fashion TV' this is not a channel I have seen or even heard of before, but they were obviously showing the lingerie section. I hope this doesn't sound too prudish, in fact I found it quite amusing, but it was bordering on soft porn! The barman soon changed the channel to a music one. We ordered another cocktail each and went back to our room, where we ordered more room service. Again this arrived in good time and was tasty.
After a restful night's sleep we went down the brasserie for breakfast. The first thing I noticed was BBC Radio 2 playing over the stereo....fantastic! More places should do this, it is so much better than the usual stuff you hear in restaurants! I was almost dissappointed we hadn't come down earlier as we had just missed the Chris Evans breakfast show! Anyway, we were seated by a very pleasant young man who took our tea and toast order, and showed us where the continental breakfast buffet was, which had a very good selection. We also had a hot breakfast each, my partner going for the full English while I tried the waffles with bacon and maple syrup. Not something I've had before, and I was impressed when it arrived, an enormous waffle with three rashers of bacon and a tiny copper saucepan full of maple syrup....very cute! Couldn't help wondering how many of those have gone walkies! (I didn't pinch my one, though it was tempting! It didn't say 'take me home we dare you' on it like the toiletries do, which of course I had to oblige, it would've been rude not to!) the experience was made all the more enjoyable by a particularly cheerful waiter singing along to 'Fame'! I nearly choked on my tea!
On checking out, again staff were friendly and the same valet brought our car round for us (lovely chap, didn't catch his name though).
Overall, a very good experience. We would come back, but would like to try one of the cell rooms next time.


Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank Natalie P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (643)
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UK
Level Contributor
25 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 16, 2012

The contrast between the luxurious finish and the very obvious prison structure made for a fascinating experience. The hotel style was a well thought balanced, entertaining, mixture of old and new. We were in normal rooms - in the house of correction(!)- rather than former cells; the space was limited although the rooms were very comfortable and clean with new, good quality furnishings.

The bar upstairs (in the area when prisoners met visitors) was dark, atmospheric, with a very high roof; a quite spectacular place to have pre and post dinner drinks. The wine list was excellent and reasonably priced and the food good in the basement restaurant.

The staff were friendly and very helpful, although we got the impression that they were not used to the hotel being full as there were longish waits for most things. Checkout took nearly an hour, but there is a convenient coffee and doughnut shop just outside the hotel to keep you fortified through the process.

Our friends in three other rooms had plenty of hot water but we had to make do with a cold shower on Sunday morning - the authentic porridge experience. We were told that the boiler was not working properly so maybe this has now been fixed. The hotel was apologetic and knocked £39 off our £370 bill (for dinner, drinks, bed and breakfast for one night for two), when we mentioned this at checkout.

I recommend getting down for breakfast early at the weekend if the hotel is full. We were just in time to get seated quickly, but there was a queue for tables twenty minutes later. The restaurant manager was lovely and very apologetic to everybody for the delays with the food.

The hotel has a superb setting, next to the castle and convenient for shops and sightseeing in the middle of Oxford. It was less stressful and quicker to park out of town in the park and ride and then get a bus (which drops you just by the hotel- ask for the castle), than to try and park in town.

I have given a "very good" rating as I got the impression that we had just been unlucky with catching them on a busy day when the boiler was broken. Somebody mentioned that all of Oxford is a bit chaotic in Freshers' Week.

Room Tip: pick a room overlooking the grassy exercise yard - rather than the exterior wall - if on the ground...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank asclepios
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ashtead, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
24 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 16, 2012

The hotel,being quirky is fun .The rooms are nothing special but O.K. What was disappointing was breakfast. The chef didn't arrive until we were due to leave so we had to settle for a cold breakfast only.No member of Management came to make an apology & it was leftv to the poor waitress to take all the flack.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Chris W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wokingham, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
129 reviews
44 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 80 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 15, 2012

My friend and I visited the Brasserie at the Hotel, and I was amazed. From the beautiful and historic entrance to the elegant and spooky interior, this hotel is second to none for an intriguing and memorable experience. The entire hotel has kept its historic charm, and evidence of its previous prison facility is in abundance. They have kept the internal layout as was when first built, so all rooms are built in to the old cells - Beautifully decorated too.

As for the brasserie, what an experience! Again, they have kept the historic charm of the building and created private dining rooms and each of the old cells. The food was delicious and service excellent. Make sure you visit the old cell room at the end of the corridor; they have kept as was from when it was a prison, including metal cots attached to the wall!

I cannot wait to visit here again! I will be bringing my friends and family so they can experience this wonderful hotel!

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank JadeyNunn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hampshire, England
Level Contributor
130 reviews
87 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 96 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 14, 2012

This was our second stay in a Malmaison prison cell, so the question "would you stay again" is a resounding "yes!". I know there are 'normal' rooms, but we've stayed each time in the old prison block which looks exactly like the set of 'Porridge', except for the moody lighting, quality carpeting and comfy sofas. Behind the cell door is actually three cells knocked into one. The main bedroom takes up 2 old cells and is a good size, the third cell is partly the reception area and mostly the bathroom - which was excellent. There was nothing in the room to have the slightest complaint about. There's no issues about noise from surrounding rooms - the walls are, after all, prison thick ...

We had a fantastic meal with friends in the 'canteen' down in the basement - reasonably priced, great food. The wine list is probably the most comprehensive I've seen and the 'cheese trolley' was impressively fun.

Although the hotel bar (and rooftop cocktail bar if weather permits) are pretty good, they are pricey and the hotel is slap-bang in the centre of the city, with many, many great places to drink - we had an unforgettable lunch in the "Three Goats Heads" - which is like no pub I've ever been in (and I've been in a few ....)

The Malmaison is not cheap and parking is extra. But quality has a price.

Room Tip: Prison cell - accept no substitutes.
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank JasonLaw_UK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
13 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 13, 2012 via mobile

Lovely hotel - very impressive location. But.. closing all the bars at 12 on a Friday evening because "the tills are closed" is not what you expect from a good hotel. Makes the place feel like a seaside B&B

  • Stayed October 2012
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank 232Chris
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
23 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 10, 2012

Book one of the original cell rooms for a first class stay. From the moment we arrived we were treated so well - the room was lush - and you could see how the conversion had been done from prison to boutique hotel. Our room was made up of 4 cells but was super spacious. It was the small detail that really made it... the cubby windows, the steel prison doors, and the sheer cool minimalism of the furnishings. We had a roll top bath and a rainfall shower so perfect for indulging the next morning after a little hangover.

This was a little weekend away, and location-wise was perfect. Easy to walk around the city, and being in such a historic building added a certain charm to the weekend.

We had some fabulous cocktails in the hotel, followed by a scrummy 3 course meal. Not usually one to stay in for hotel food, this was well worth it and heartily recommended. And even had a celeb spot in the form of BBCs Monty Don!

Go, and you will be recommending this place to all your friends soon...I know I have :)

Room Tip: go for the old cell rooms
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank EvetheLondoner
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Malmaison Oxford Castle

Property: Malmaison Oxford Castle
Address: 3 Oxford Castle, Oxford OX1 1AY, England
Location: United Kingdom > England > Oxfordshire > Oxford
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#5 Business Hotel in Oxford
#5 Luxury Hotel in Oxford
#9 Romantic Hotel in Oxford
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Malmaison Oxford Castle 4*
Number of rooms: 95
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
If you're tired of doing hard time in run-of-the-mill hotels, it's a completely different story at our former gaol, Malmaison Oxford. Instead sip the coolest cocktails in the free world at MALBAR and enjoy an eclectic mix of classic dishes with a twist at the Brasserie, from freshly caught fish to the famous Mal Burger. Good behaviour will get you privileges like free Wi-Fi, drench showers, plasma TVs and and even toiletries that are just begging to be nabbed by light-fingered guests. This is one hotel in Oxford city centre where you'll be happy to get a long stretch. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Malmaison Oxford Castle Hotel Oxford
Malmaison Hotel Oxford

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