One local hotel that I had wanted to stay in for years was the Malmaison on the beautiful quayside in Newcastle. We had been there for breakfast before but had never enjoyed an evening meal there or spent the night. I always remember my friends being treated to nights away there, especially for Valentines, with their boyfriends and they always posted such gorgeous photos on Facebook showing off their sumptuous surroundings and plush bedroom.
If you were a reader of my blog towards the end of last year then you’ll know that Mr WLL treated me to a night away there to celebrate my birthday. You can read all about what I wore and see our room in this blog post here but let me tell you, it was amazing. I loved the room and the hotel in general was so amazingly decorated, the staff couldn’t do enough for you and the food and drinks we enjoyed were superb. I have longed to go back ever since.
The hotel has recently undergone a massive 1.2 million pound refurbishment from the very top to the bottom, with even more plans in the pipeline. I was invited along during their soft opening to see what the buzz is all about, ahead of their official launch on 23rd April, which also happens to be St. Georges Day and what better way to celebrate than with a night out at the Mal.
The Mal has been one of Newcastle’s hot spots for the last 18 years and it has always been a hotel that is ahead of its time, with an edgy feel that makes it stand out against the other hotels in the city. Following the refurbishment, the hotel, bar and brasserie have created a Mal for the new generation with a brand new, forward thinking General Manager, Vincent Garrington who has big plans for the hotel. Its his fourth time working back in the North East and it is set to be his most successful position yet.
|(L,T,B) From outside the Mal, the new Chez Mal sign complete with thousands of hand applied shiny black discs and dinner with a view overlooking the beautiful Newcastle quayside|
The first thing that you notice about the Malmaison, before even stepping through the doors, is how beautiful it is. With its grand stone effect walls, flags and slightly gothic lighting, the Mal sets the scene from the very start and the inside is just as Instagram worthy as the outside.
Walking into the Malmaison is an experience in itself. It still has that dark, mysterious feel to it that it has always had but it feels even more opulent than it did before. I was pleased to discover that the staff are as wonderful as ever; immaculately presented, polite and helpful and they treat you like royalty as standard.
I was directed upstairs to the newly launched Chez Mal Brasserie and Bar and was greeted by a completely renovated space with a loft like, slightly industrial feel to it. Very contemporary, something that I’d expect to see in London and a far cry from the way it was before.
|Napoleon portrait in Chez Mal|
If you’ve been to the Mal in the past then you’ll understand what I mean when I say that they’ve swapped the bar and the brasserie around which is a very welcome change. While I loved the previous darkness that came with the old Malmaison restaurant and bar, the revamp has brought the restaurant forward so that now diners can enjoy their food in light and airy surroundings overlooking the quayside. Oh and what a view it is! The hotel is situated opposite the Millennium Bridge and the large windows in the brasserie ensure a fabulous view at any time of the day or night.
|Joséphine de Beauharnais portrait in Chez Mal|
With a wall or two knocked down, the huge space has been opened up to create an area that really flows from the bar through to the brasserie rather than dividing the space. With 250 covers, the idea is that Chez Mal will become a place for not only residents to drink and dine but for locals too with some of the areas top DJs playing there. The bar will be where the music is predominantly at with a slightly quieter feel in the brasserie so the conversation isn’t disrupted over dinner. Then later in the night, when the diners have had their fill, the music will filter through into the brasserie, as an extension of the bar, creating even more space for those to enjoy their drinks. This is great news for me as I’ve had my fill of nights on the town clubbing and would much rather head to Chez Mal for dinner, drinks and a dance under one roof.
The restaurant is designed like a London brasserie but with a french feel and features large dark wood tables, well supported and super comfortable chairs and exposed brick work with newspaper prints on the walls; very apartment chic. Two feature portraits of Napoleon and Joséphine de Beauharnais hang on the walls, serving as a reminder of the inspiration behind the name of the hotel. However these pictures aren’t the usual portraits you’d expect to see, this is the Malmaison after all. They’re covered in spots to give them a naughty feel and will bring their future ‘Get Spotted’ campaign to life following the launch of Chez Mal in April.
|Chez Mal Bar Malmaison Newcastle|
The stand out feature of the Malmaison that sets it apart the other hotels in Newcastle is the fully stocked bar which rivals some of the top bars in the city. Whether you’re looking for a fine wine, legendary cocktail, beer or spirit, there is so much to choose from, you’ll never go thirsty.
|Chez Mal Bar|
I was pleased to see that there is plenty of seating in the bar and a great variety from high stools aside long communal tables or up against the wall with power sockets nearby making them a great spot for a bit of laptop time before a meeting, booths to fit many or few and smaller tables with comfortable chairs that could fit a couple or a group around.
No matter whether you come out with colleagues or clients for a business meeting, your friends as a group wanting a good night out or with your partner for a romantic evening, there is a space for you, regardless of whether you’re looking for something open or a little more private.
|Chez Mal Bar|
Chez Mal also has a bar menu, giving you the option to have a lighter bite or lunch throughout the day if you didn’t want to dine in the brasserie. Following the renovation of the bar area there have been many more snacks added to the bar menu making it a great choice if you’re looking for something a little more relaxed.
|The Malmaison Fizz cocktail being created|
After taking in the surroundings, it was time to enjoy a drink or two from the bar. The Malmaison are already famous for their cocktails and that isn’t set to change with the introduction of Chez Mal.
|Chez Mal cocktail menu|
Four cocktails were created from the extensive list.
The Clover Club which is a gin based cocktail with a delicate, slightly floral taste.
The Bad Boy Good Girl which is a mix of champagne and vodka with the fruity taste of strawberries.
The Malmaison Fizz which is Chez Mal’s twist on a spritzer with champagne and elderflower.
And finally, the refreshing French 75 which is another gin based cocktail from the specials menu which will run for two weeks before changing for even more fancy favourites.
|Cocktails in Chez Mal bar|
For me, it was the Malmaison Fizz that hit the spot. A fruity twist on a spritzer that reminded me of enjoying Pimms at the races.
|Malmaison Fizz cocktail in Chez Mal|
Before taking our seats for dinner, we were invited to make our way up to the bedrooms for a peak at the improvements that have already been made to all 122 bedrooms and the suites that will begin in March.
|Bedroom in the Malmaison, Newcastle|
The bedrooms are very much of the moment. The deep purple which was once synonymous with the Malmaison has been given a back seat with only subtle hints coming through here and there. Instead grey takes a front seat intertwined with different colour schemes on each floor and fun pop art style pictures on the walls.
In the past, I would have described the rooms at the Mal to have a very sexy feel to them whereas these seem to have a slight masculine feel to them which is very modern and crisp, making them suitable for corporate guests and lovers alike.
|Work area in the hotel room at the Malmaison|
The rooms have every facility that you would need, with an upgraded desk area and improved chair that will have corporate guests, who dominate the hotel mid week, singing its praises in no time! The Malmaison has the quirkiest mini bar I’ve ever seen with unique chocolates and a very varied range of cool snacks and drinks.
If I could make one improvement, it would be to install additional plug sockets by the bedside. I’d like to think that I could spend the night away from home without my phone but in reality, I need it beside me 24 hours a day!
|Bathroom in one of the standard bedrooms at the Malmaison, Newcastle|
Now I’m the kind of girl that appreciates a good bathroom and the ones at the Malmaison are fabulous because they’re so light and airy. The facilities are spacious and feature everything you could need with the addition of some very good toiletries that I’ve actually been using at home since my visit.
Beauty lovers will be pleased to know that the bathroom boasts a huge mirror and as it is so bright and light in the room, it is the perfect setting for doing your make up or skincare routine (you can take the beauty blogger out of Space NK but you’ll never take the beauty out of the blogger!).
After a look around the rooms, we headed back down to Chez Mal to sample the delights of the brasserie menu while sitting on a table overlooking the Millennium Bridge. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon, I’ll tell you.
|The new menu at Chez Mal, Newcastle|
The most difficult part choosing what to order from the extensive modern french european menu. The executive chef from Chez Mal was on hand to offer his advice and to talk us through the new menu which is very much an elaborate extension of the previous one. He really knows his stuff having worked some of the top restaurants in London as well as the Michelin Star Oxfordshire restaurant, Sir Charles Napier. After working in the Mal for the last two years, he has had a great deal of input into the new menu and puts together the specials.
While the Malmaison Newcastle currently holds one rosette already and will be aiming for two this year, the executive chef believes that this will be achieved through consistency rather than simply chasing that rosette so you’re always going to get the same high standard whenever you go to Chez Mal. He said that trust in their ingredients, provide great service, good quality and that the rosettes will come in time. To achieve this, the cooking needs to be relaxed which is the way that he prefers to cook, as well as drawing great inspiration from Marco Pierre White.
Previously, the menu at the Malmaison was very heavily beef/steak based and while the fabulous meat options remain on the menu, it has been extended to include more choice with a wider variety of foods including tuna tartare, Meantime Ale Moules and lobster which is one of my favourites.
|Pan Roasted Scallops Starter|
For my starter, I opted for the Pan Roasted Scallops which arrived deliciously pump and juicy with spinach puree, chorizo and a tomato dressing.
|Starters at Chez Mal|
As soon as all of our starters arrived, we were ooing and ahhing over each others choices and got a little snap happy. Great tasting food, simply made so that all of the flavours can be tasted.
The Prime Steak Carpaccio with watercress, parmigiano reggiano and mustard dressing and the Fritto Misto consisting of tiger prawns, calamari and courgette in a tempura batter with aioli and sweet chilli dips were particularly popular on our table.
The Chez Mal menu is big on flavour with simple presentation that really allows the dishes to speak for themselves. There is no such better example than the Prime Aged Black Angus NY Strip Steak that I ordered for my main.
The executive chef explained that the Black Angus meat comes from Australia because they find that the land is better for rearing cattle there. There is around a 6 week ageing process for the meat which is actually the journey time that it takes for the meat to come over from Australia.
|Prime Aged Black Angus NY Strip Steak with Spinach Gratin|
I really appreciate a steak that is cooked to perfection. When asking for a steak to be cooked medium it should arrive medium however if I had a £1 for the amount of times I’ve been to a restaurant and been give meat that is either cremated or still mooing, I’d be eating at Chez Mal every evening.
My steak came with its own sauce along with the béarnaise sauce that I ordered on the side and some spinach gratin which was beautifully creamy and was the ideal accompaniment to the steak.
|the Mal Hot Chocolate Dessert|
After dinner, I was stuffed but following a little rest we ordered dessert. I went for the Mal Hot Chocolate which came delightfully presented in a cup and saucer with a little milk jug filled with hot melted chocolate. Inside the cup was a gorgeous white chocolate and vanilla ice cream, thickly whipped cream and marshmallows.
Once the hot chocolate was poured on top, the dessert started to melt to create a heavenly cup of naughtiness! I just wish I wasn’t so stuffed so that I could have finished it!
Following coffee, we were led down into the spa before it was time to say goodbye. The air of tranquility comes over you immediately as you enter thanks to the calming music and ambient lighting. The Malmaison Spa offers an extensive range of treatments for both men and women, including waxing, nails, tinting, St Tropez spray tans and Nouveau lashes to get you ready for the weekend and facials and massages to ease away the tension of a week at work. There’s also a relaxation room and sauna to enjoy.
They’re currently offering a Skin Radiant Facial from ESPA for only £45 where you can enjoy a 55 minute treatment and use of the spa facilities from Monday to Thursday until 30th April, or you can upgrade to include an aromatherapy back, neck and shoulder massage for an extra £20. I think that this would be a lovely gift for Mother’s Day!
Simply call the spa on 08446930658 or email email@example.com to book.
After leaving the Chez Mal, I was beaming. I’d had such a great day and I cannot wait until the official opening. My favourite Newcastle hot spot has just got even better!
The Malmaison Newcastle is part of the Malmaison chain of hotels but arguably, the Newcastle hotel is the best of the bunch, being situated on the beautiful quayside and ideally located for all that Newcastle has to offer (see here for nearby attractions), although perhaps I’m a little biased. I’d urge you to give it a try whether its for dinner and drinks or for an overnight stay. I’m certain you’ll not be disappointed.
The address is simply 104 Quayside, Newcastle NE1 3DX (see here for directions) and theres a multi storey carpark with ample parking directly opposite that gives you extremely affordable rates when you’re visiting the hotel. Often staying at a hotel can cost the earth by the time you’ve paid for loads of extras as well as parking but the Malmaison has so many incredible dine and stay options that they make it really affordable. Check them out online here.
To make a reservation be it for food or a room, call 0844 693 0658 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are your favourite hotel features? Would you like to stay at the Malmaison?
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