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“Poor service, quite expensive but conveniently located”

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Malmaison Oxford Castle
Ranked #6 of 44 Hotels in Oxford
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 4 February 2010

We stayed there for 2 nights and our arrival was not what is expected for this kind of standard. Asked about the deal they have in January on the Internet ( if you dine at the Brasserie), the guy at the reception said ""no mam, no deal"' and wanted to charge us the full 260 pounds !! ( and that's excluding Breakfast of course ).Luckyly we managed to negociate down but be warned this is no cheap hotel. Was absolutely freezing in the reception area, doors wide open so every tourist would just come in just to have a look at the architecture...you could just walk in this hotel like an open house which is not the idea when you pretend to be an exclusive hotel ! Anyway, the prison has been very nicely done, a bit dark but very stylish. Bed was good, all very clean and nice and you are right in the center of Oxford. Oh yes and it's also just 20 pounds for one night for parking your car so come by bus!!

  • Stayed: January 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank edensKl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 3 February 2010

We booked a room in Mal Oxford for a 3 night city break. Upon arrival we were cold, tired and thirsty after our train journey and asked the receptionist if there was any guest water available. We were advised that there was water in the tap in our room and bottled water in our mini-bar! After a somewhat unusual welcome considering the amount we were paying, we were given the key to our room which was a short walk from reception across the exercise yard. Once inside we were pleasantly surprised at the size of the room plus RESULT it was in a quiet spot away from the noisy bar and nightclub - perfect; or so we thought! Upon returning from our first night out we found that the room was unusually cold. We realised that the heating (a vented air system) was not working. In desperation we called reception who sent a very helpful member of staff quickly to our room and they confirmed that the heating had broken down. We were loaned a small fan heater which we kept on maximum all night and we were told (not at any time were we asked if we would LIKE to move?) that we were going to be moved to another room. The next day we would realise that we should have asked to stay where we were with the fan heater because the room we were moved to in the Govenor's (surely should be spelt Governor's?) House was warmer but it was only HALF the size of our previous room, even darker (no point at all trying to read, agree with other reviewers) and had a very annoying heating fan heater in the wall which was loudly blowing air 99% of the time. Our first night in our new room was unfortunately also disturbed by people (couldn't hear any music) outside the nightclub between 2-4 am despite it being minus 4C! The DVD players in both rooms we occupied did not work but this was a very minor issue compared to spending the majority of our break in a room which was nowhere near as good as our first one was. Oxford is a great City and despite being unlucky with our rooms it was very convenient staying in a hotel which was close to the restaurants, and the centre. Recommend Mal for location and originality but we hope you are luckier than we were with your room!

  • Stayed: January 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank W_London_Couple
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 February 2010

Upon arrival I was warmly greeted and made relaxed at the reservation desk and seated in a comfortable chair (none of this standing at a breakfast bar).
The reservation assistant was pleasant, efficient, friendly and informative.
I was accomanied to my room (old converted jail cells with the original doors, really cool) by a hotel representative, who ensured I had all I needed in the room and explained all the features included for my business use and personal comfort.
The lounge (the old inmates visitor room) had various choices of seating to accomodate all comforts. The bar staff were again friendly and courteous. The area had nice ambience and light backgrount music that was not too loud to make conversation uneasy.
As far as location the hotel is ideal being a short walk to the city centre's shop and restuarants.
Breakfast had a great choice and of high quality. I settled for the eggs benedict with smoked salmon, and it was delicious.
Based on my experience above and the value for money, I would highly recommend this hotel to business travellers and visitors.
I'll be definitely going back on tmy next trip to the area

  • Stayed: January 2010, travelled on business
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1  Thank 50haggisman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 January 2010

I am a fan of chic hip hotels and had been looking forwrad to staying in this converted prison. It is an amazing look they have achieved but appearances can be deceptive. There is a great fun factor in staying in rooms which were once cells. However, once you get settled in and see beyond the luxury, some major problems are quickly noticed. The most fundamental issue is no natural ventilation. There are no windows that can be opened. Instead, air is pumped (very noisely) into the room via a grill and there seems to be no control over it. During my stay the room was ventilated in this way throughout the day but then suddenly stopped between midnight and 6am (presumably to quieten down the place to allow sleep!). Unfortunately, this means the room becomes stifflingly hot during the night! At one point I was on the verge of sleeping with the room door open just to get some fresh air in the room! Control over the heating in the room is very limited and although I was able to turn off heating in the bedroom, there was no such option for the bathroom. This combination of lack of air and overheating means you will definitely have an uncomfortable nights sleep.

Some other reviewers have commented on the hardness of the beds and they most definitely are. However, I was able to get comfortable (at least until I had to throw bedding off the bed when too hot in the night).

The lighting in the hotel is very dark, particularly in the bedrooms. Reading was quite problematical at night.

The Brasserie was quiet cramped but seats were very comfortable. I was also slightly underwhelmed with the food, which was also expensive for what it was.

I found all staff to be polite and helpful although understanding some of the accents could be difficult.

I would also suggest the hotel put some signage on the road as we missed the entrance twice when driving there and even once on foot.

Overall, the stay was marred by the issues described above. A modern hotel really has no excuses for poor ventilation, hetaing and lighting. I would hope that improvements can be made as otherwise I wouldn't recommend to friends.

A disappointment really. Did not match my expectations.

  • Stayed: January 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank Hotel_Avenger
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
ManagerMalOxford, Manager at Malmaison Oxford Castle, responded to this reviewResponded 1 February 2010

Thank-you for leaving your feedback and regarding your recent stay at Malmaison Oxford, although it is never encouraging to receive negative comments this information is vital to monitoring our guests experiences. The Malmaison Oxford is a former prison therefore its design is very unique to ensure that we make the most of the original features. We would be delighted if you could get in contact with us to discuss these details. Please contact dgm.oxford@malmaison.com

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Reviewed 31 January 2010

Lovely hotel. The rooms are beautifully and imaginatively converted from the old cells, the furnishings are really attractive and the bathrooms lovely. It could be a really great place to stay .... BUT ...

The main irritation, which would probably stop us booking again, was that the room was WAY TOO HOT! There are no opening windows and only a ventilator grille which loudly pumps in cold air during the day when you're out, and then inexplicably turns off around midnight until 6am (well, that was the case in our room) so it was suffocating when you're trying to sleep, despite it being below zero outside. There was no way of regulating the room temperature and we nearly resorted to sleeping with the door open on our first night. It was absolutely stiffling.

The other, more minor niggles were:
1. It's badly signposted, in fact there are no visible signs from the road, which is really frustrating when you're trying to find it in the dark!
2. All of the lampshades in the room were black so the light was too dim to be able to read by , v annoying.
3. Despite there being two of us booked into the room, only one set of towels was put out each day, the second had to be retrieved from a basket under the basin.
4. There was no information booklet/folder in the room so we had to call reception to find out when breakfast was, when check out was etc etc.

  • Stayed: January 2010, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank AmberNectar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
ManagerMalOxford, Manager at Malmaison Oxford Castle, responded to this reviewResponded 1 February 2010

Thank-you for leaving your feedback and regarding your recent stay at Malmaison Oxford, although it is never encouraging to receive negative comments this information is vital to monitoring our guests experiences. The Malmaison Oxford is a former prison therefore its design is very unique to ensure that we make the most of the original features. We would be delighted if you could get in contact with us to discuss these details. Please contact dgm.oxford@malmaison.com

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Reviewed 31 January 2010

I recently served a sentence of one night’s custody in the Oxford Malmaison, which is housed in the former Oxford Gaol and set among the ruins of Oxford Castle. Unlike sentences handed down in HM Courts, this one had to be served in full without the offer of release at the half-way point.

The hotel, which is a little difficult to find, is both exciting and impressive as a building. The setting, in the ruins of the old castle, is attractive and the conversion from a prison last used in 1996 to a trendy, modern hotel has been completed with sympathy to the old building and with great style; a carefully crafted combination of old and new that creates an air of fun, enjoyment and relaxation. The rooms are housed in “Wings”. Some rooms are in converted cells in the main part of the old prison where the metal landings have been retained to maintain character. Others are in a new area at the New Road end of the building. Having tried both rooms, as I will explain later, I can say that they are well appointed and very comfortable. The New Road rooms are larger and the extra-king size beds have duvets filled with feather down. The former cells are smaller, have more character and queen size beds with duvets filled with man- made fibre. As you step out of these old cells, you get a real feel for the style of the old prison. However, they have no natural ventilation and, I suspect, could be stuffy in warmer weather. In either case, New Road or former cell, it would be hard to criticise the ambience of the room.

So, what made me think that early release might be welcome? Our first room was in the New Road wing. Everything was fine until we came to go to bed just after half-past ten. As we settled down, we became aware of a background thumping sound, rising and falling. Not only discernible to the ear, you could feel the sound, not loud but low and vibrating such that ear plugs did nothing to lessen the intrusion. Having eliminated the neighbouring rooms, at mid-night, after the level of thump had continued to increase, the source was identified some five storeys below in the basement. Underneath the New Road rooms and part of the adjacent Living Room restaurant is a lively night club with a booming bass and a licence that goes on to 2.00AM. The hotel receptionist appeared unsurprised when I spoke to her about the noise and promptly offered me another room. The telephone number of the club was to hand and she said that she would ring and ask them to reduce the level of noise; not a new problem, it seemed. The Duty Manager quickly came to our old room and offered to escort us to the new one in the old cell block. Once again fully clothed and with bags packed, we traipsed through the hotel to the new room. No faulting the staff who were polite, friendly and helpful throughout. However, the hotel is the landlord of the night club and I am left wondering why, apart from revenue, they tolerate such an evident nuisance. We settled into our comfortable cell and slept through to breakfast time.

Breakfast was an event all in itself; it took us an hour from arriving in the basement brasserie to leaving. The food was very good and the orange juice tasted fresh. However, the service and organisation were terrible. The hotel was almost full and ten o’clock seemed to be a popular time for breakfast. We were quickly shown to a table for two and ordered tea. We then went into the small side room where the cereals, fruits, breads and juices were laid out on a circular table. The first problem was that it was possible to circulate the table clockwise and anti-clockwise. Good for freedom of choice but bad for logistics as counter-rotating guests ran into each other. The second problem was that supplies were running low and the orange juice had run out. We gathered some fruit and cereals and returned to our table. No sign of the tea ordered more than five minutes before. After another five minutes, still no sign of tea and no-one to take our order for bacon and eggs. Back to the buffet room, still no orange juice. Back to the table and our tea for two arrived in a pot for one. Some fifteen minutes after sitting down, we had still to order our cooked breakfast. I managed to get the attention of our friendly but frantic waitress and we placed our order for a poached egg on toast with bacon. Staff rushing back and forth everywhere, with one waitress running, other guests complaining about not being seated promptly and not being served; we sat there with empty cereal bowls, empty glasses and an empty tea pot. Eventually, we were approached by the apparent dining room manager and asked if everything was OK. I explained that we had been in the dining room for around thirty five minutes, had ordered a cooked breakfast some twenty minutes ago and were still waiting. Off he went to return ten minutes later to see how we were getting on – still no breakfast and no offer of more tea or coffee until I mentioned it. In the background a lady was complaining that her party had been waiting for ages and that another group was served ahead of her having ordered their meals later than her. To the side of us was a young man quietly asking if someone would please come to his table to take his order. Someone else was asking if the buffet could be replenished. Our meal finally arrived and jolly good it was too.

Back to the room, pack bags and down to reception to check out. Reception consists of three desks not all of which are staffed at any one time. When we checked in, only two receptionists were on duty, one of whom was engaged in a lengthy ‘phone call with someone who was discussing a possible booking. Three or four couples were waiting to check in and progress was very slow. Somewhat irritatingly, the attractive looking, mock crocodile skin covered check in desk provided a ridged underlay that interfered with writing on the arrival card; the receptionists got over this minor niggle by placing mouse mats under the cards. Some hours after arriving, I had to return to reception because our key card no longer opened our door. Only one receptionist was on duty with a queue of four or five guests waiting to be served. On departure, the check-out was no more efficient than the check-in. The staff are polite and friendly, but the checking process is painfully slow and there are not always sufficient staff for the number of guests wanting to be served.

I am not sure where all of this leaves me with the Oxford Malmaison. It was amusing to stay in a former gaol. The setting was good, the rooms comfortable, the decor tasteful and the food was fresh and well prepared. Without doubt, the worst aspect was the beat of the much amplified bass that penetrated our New Road room. Definitely a curate’s egg of a hotel that’s worth a visit for the curious but comes with a risk of disappointment. If you do decide to go, book a cell room in winter, allow plenty of time for breakfast and do not expect a fast check-in/check-out. Also, it is a very good idea to book a parking slot in advance. The valet parking costs £20 but is worth the money, given the problem of parking anywhere near the hotel. By the way, there is a bar on the third floor, but we were not told about it at reception and the rooms did not have an information book so we only found it while taking a ride in the all stations, slow motion lift that serves the old cell floors. Finally, we got a good deal, £99 B&B, through Travel Republic.

  • Stayed: January 2010, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank PierrelePilote
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
ManagerMalOxford, Manager at Malmaison Oxford Castle, responded to this reviewResponded 1 February 2010

Thank-you for leaving your feedback and regarding your recent stay at Malmaison Oxford, although it is never encouraging to receive negative comments this information is vital to monitoring our guests experiences. We would be delighted if you could get in contact with us to discuss these details. Please contact dgm.oxford@malmaison.com

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 January 2010

Stayed at the Malmaison on Saturday night 23rd January after makeing a booking via www.superbreak.com, I was able to book a room and breakfast for £99, very cheap for the Malmaison. There was an issue with the booking (minimum booking should have been two nights, but to Superbreak/Malmaison credit, they did honour the booking.

We arrived at the hotel early (12.30pm), and not expecting to get the room, the hotel were kind enough for us to deposit our bags whilst we went the two minute walk into town for a look around.

We checked in at 2.30. The reception desk is one of the modern type layouts, with three separate individual desks, it was a bit manic when we were there as many others were checking in, whether the check in would have benefited from a bigger reception area, only they could say. We were upgraded for some reason to a superior room, situated towards the front of the property,. Walking to the room, we had to use keycards to enter the block where our room was contained, which did help us security wise as unwelcome visitors were prevented from prowling around. In the lift, the protective film covering the information poster had peeled away from the frame (wear and ear, not reparied...)but in general, the hotel seemed in excellent fettle. Our room was very spacious, with super king size bed, spacious bathroom, toiletries and other refinements. Balcony out onto the courtyard overlooking the front of the hotel was welcome, Flat Screen TV was a welcome touch.

We returned to the hotel later in the evening after a night out. Adjacent to the hotel are some late night bars, and as the smokers were standing outside the bar (and immediately underneath our balcony) I feared our ability to sleep would be affected with the noise, but the double glazing and thickness of the walls acted as a soundproof barrier, and coupled with the extreme comfort the bed offered meant the sleep was a welcoming experience.

Breakfast was fine a selection of continental foods available, and a full English Breakfast bought to your table (no hot breakfast buffet facility as in other hotels I have experienced in the classier hotel chains), staff were very friendly, similar issues checking out with queues forming, but in all, a very good stay, We were able to leave our bags in a secure area as we visited town again until we left Oxford later in the day.

I would revisit the hotel without question.

  • Stayed: January 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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1  Thank foxystoat1
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

Address: 3 Oxford Castle New Road, Oxford OX1 1AY, England
Region: 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
#6 Luxury Hotel in Oxford
#9 Romantic Hotel in Oxford
Price Range: £145 - £320 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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