I spend so much of my time sitting in the Chez Mal bar at the Malmaison on the Newcastle Quayside that the bar staff know me. I only have to poke my head round the corner for them to stick the kettle on and start prepping my pot of tea. It is one of my very favourite places in Newcastle to work on my laptop - it's so peaceful, there's free wifi and I always get loads done.
So, as you can imagine, I was slightly nervous when I heard that Chez Mel was closed for a refurb. What would they be doing to my favourite bar on the Quayside?
Long time readers of New Girl in Toon may remember when Chez Mal at the Malmaison first launched two years ago (where on earth has that two years gone?) It was such a fantastic party that those of us who attended are still talking about it now. Back then the bar had a major refurbishment, swapping places with the restaurant and undergoing a luxe sports bar style makeover.
Two years on and the Malmaison Newcastle decided that Chez Mal was due a bit of a spruce up and, as I made my way up the stairs to the new look bar for the first time, I had to admit that it was the right decision. The new bar completely fits with the style of Malmaison and if you've been to any of their other hotels across the country I think you'll agree that the old Chez Mal didn't really fit.
The new look Chez Mal is gorgeous, and if I was handing out trophies right now the Malmaison would certainly get the prize for the most eye catching bar on the Newcastle Quayside. The bar screams opulence from the crown shaped light fittings to the plush chairs, hidden snugs and green foliage.
Yes, there really is greenery coming out of the ceiling!
I was luckily enough to be invited to the VIP launch for a good nose round whilst chatting to some of my favourite people, drinking the Mal's famous cocktails, eating far too much food and mingling with Newcastle's finest.
Important things first and if you're looking for the bar in the new look Chez Mal then just head for the giant blue neon sign that screams "This must be the place"
Even with my rubbish sense of direction I can't lose this bar!
We began our evening with sugary Strawberry Daiquiris followed by Zombies before we moved onto some wine tasting (yes, I know we were playing with fire a bit there!) The conclusion I reached, around the time that my head started to feel a little fuzzy, is that the Chez Mal is a fabulous place for an evening out with friends.
Luckily, before things got too crazy, it was time for food and a little sample of the Malmaison's new Spring/Summer menu.
Highlight of my evening had to be Don, the Cheeseman - what a gent! I love cheese and could have happily spent hours talking to him about cheese and trying some of his recommendations. He was spot on with his choices (I like my cheese mild and creamy) and the chutney that my cheese was paired with was absolutely delicious and immediately made me think of Christmas. Amazingly I enjoyed my cheese so much that I didn't try any of the other desserts (crazy right?!)
For those who, like me, can't help but feel a little nervous about change, don't you worry! The bar staff are still lovely, you'll find the same tempting offers as before (Thank Mal it's Friday, the perfect way to start your night out!) and the food is perfectly prepared.
My night at the Chez Mal was fantastic, it's no wonder that it's one of my favourite hotels in Newcastle for food, drink and spa treatments. I'm in there so much it's almost like a second home, and I don't think that'll be changing any time soon!
All of the BEAUTIFUL photographs in this post were taken by Lee Gibbins Photography for the Malmaison. Make sure you check him out on Facebook, his photos are stunning!
I was invited to enjoy the VIP Night at Chez Mal for an evening of complimentary food and drinks. I wasn't asked to share my experience but was so impressed with the new bar I had to come tell you all!