At the Newcastle end of the latest bridge to span the Tyne - the Millennium Bridge - the Malmaison hotel is situated to the east end of the Quayside, plum in the middle of the upmarket restaurant and bar quarter. The building was formerly a storage warehouse for Co-operative shipments coming off boats sailing up the Tyne, and the grand stone façade with 'Co-operative' writ large still reminds guests of the history of the city. Set back slightly from the riverside, you won't have the rabble of tourists making their way across the bridge passing by the front of the hotel, nor the traffic: the Mal (as it's affectionately called) have managed to quell the cars.
Everything about the rooms in the Malmaison screams opulence. Furnished in plums, golds and deep purples, the bedrooms are a cacophany of throws and pillows, while the walls are emblazoned with chic artwork. They market themselves as a boutique hotel but with chain reliability, and they are. While large, the rooms can often feel slightly stifling because of the deep colour schemes and sheer number of extras, but if you're looking for a sultry, sexy place to stay with your significant other - or you want to show your family a quirky luxury weekend, then the Malmaison is brilliant.
Once through the main door, there is a luxurious reception area that aims to make a bold impression on you, shouting large the Malmaison credo: bright, balshy and a little bit naughty. It's all sleek glass and dark furnishings with strong patches of colour on the walls.
Eating and drinking
The Malmaison faces stiff competition from the huge numbers of restaurants and bars that populate this end of the Quayside. However, they've come out fighting: their brasserie is famous in the region for serving good cheap food - and often a meal for two here can result in a reduced-price night's stay (check their Twitter account (http://www.twitter.com/NewcastleMal or ask on arrival for more details). Their bar is a world of purple contained at the top of a spiral staircase off the reception area, and has plenty of comfortable seats to schmooze on. For the bar in a hotel that claims to be where the great and good come to let their hair down, however, it sometimes closes early on particularly quiet nights, leaving you to find the hedonism elsewhere.
'Boutique' in the hotel trade often means personalised, and the Malmaison is no exception. Warm and welcoming, they're particularly appreciative that if you're coming here, it more than likely is a special occasion (or you can simply afford it on a regular basis, and are therefore used to the personal touch).
Who stays there
Couples looking for a sexy and special retreat, families looking for a treat, and those used to high luxury.
The aforementioned brasserie offer can give you a great meal and a room for a snip: inquire about it if you're thinking of eating within the hotel.
Pros & Cons
- Situated near some of the newer highlights of Newcastle
- Plush and posh: a perfect one-off
- It can get quite expensive, especially if you eat and drink in the hotel