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Reality Check ➔ HOTEL MALMAISON, OXFORD


THE HOTEL: One of the quirky hotel conversions in the Malmaison collection of hotels, this former prison is now a stylish 95-room hotel in the centre of Oxford. THE CHECK-IN: We had a short wait sitting in vast wing-backed chairs in a bare-brick, moodily-lit reception area before quick formalities were undertaken. The reception was just two desks with chairs and we were making our way to the room in no time. THE ROOM: Open corridors of rooms overlook the original atrium criss-crossed with metal staircases going to each floor. Three former prison cells have been used to create each stylish ‘cell’ bedroom in the main building, so they are of a decent size and thankfully have few traces of their former use. Contemporary décor dominates, which is a little sombre but lightened with red soft furnishings. The few original elements that remain are the heavy doors and high windows. There are nice touches such as the generously-sized toiletries, DVD player, inventive minibar snacks, roll top bath, plasma TV and fast broadband. Larger rooms are either the suites or those rooms in the former House of Correction that overlooks a courtyard. More cell bedrooms occupy the former prison wardens’ quarters.


THE BUSINESS: Five meeting dining rooms, including a roof terrace, the largest room being the Visitor’s Room (otherwise known as the hotel bar) seating up to 30 boardroom style. The Terrace will take 80 for a reception. THE FACILITIES: The former waiting room is now a stylish and cavernous bar specialising in Champagne and cocktails. A 100-seater brasserie occupies the lower ground floor area (the former execution area), while the holding cells have been turned into private dining rooms. There is also a terrace. The


➔ HOTEL PESTANA CHELSEA BRIDGE, LONDON


THE HOTEL: The Pestana Chelsea Bridge hotel opened in 2010 and is the Portuguese group's first property in the UK. The four-star hotel has 216 guest rooms and, as the name suggests, is located by Chelsea Bridge, on the south side of the Thames. THE CHECK-IN: Entered the hotel into a bustling lobby area and was attended to at reception after a short wait. Staff were exceptionally polite and efficient. THE ROOM: Guestrooms are split across five categories, from Standard to two-bedroom suites. Guests on the Club Floor have access to a lounge where complimentary breakfast, snacks and drinks are served. My room featured light, modern decor, with a number of London-themed pictures and photos. There was a large desk, king-size bed, small sofa, flatscreen TV, air conditioning, tea and coffee-making facilities, a safe, iPod docking station and bathroom with separate bath and shower. There was no iron and ironing board, and it took three calls to reception to eventually have one delivered. THE BUSINESS: There are six meeting rooms across two levels, catering for groups of ten through to 500 delegates. Some rooms have natural daylight. Day delegate rates are from £60 including VAT. Videoconferencing


former exercise yard has been grassed over and is now a refreshing outside space. THE VERDICT: Perfect location right in the middle of Oxford, and a building that’s been converted extraordinarily well to make a comfortable stay considering its history. THE DETAILS: 3 New Road, Oxford, OX1 1AY. Weekday standard room rates start from £125 and suites £375. Breakfast is £15pp. Tel: 01865 268400; see: www.malmaison.com; email: reservations.oxford@malmaison.com. GILLIAN UPTON


facilities are also available. There's free wifi access in the lobby and bar area, and paid- for internet access in the business centre. THE FACILITIES: The Atlântico Restaurant and Lounge serves a comprehensive breakfast menu – with Portuguese pastries a speciality, of course – as well as evening dinner. Lunch is on offer at the Atlântico Lobby Bar Buzz, which opens from 9am through to midnight. Round-the-clock room service is available. There's also a gym, small pool and spa with treatment rooms.


THE VERDICT: This is a stylish and thoroughly modern hotel with some neat touches and nice views over iconic Battersea Power Station. The main drawback is its location – it's a ten-minute walk to the nearest train station (Battersea Park over- ground), though there are buses aplenty. THE DETAILS: Rooms start from £129 and suites £149, including VAT but no breakfast. 354 Queenstown Road, London, SW8 4AE. Tel: 020 7062 8000; see: www.pestana.com. MARTIN STEADY


90 I FIND MORE REALITY CHECKS AT WWW.THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM


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