Friday 6 March 2015

Destination: Chez Mal

If you've recently taken a stroll along Newcastle's Quayside you will have noticed the large skip that has been parked outside the Malmaison Hotel for the past few weeks.  If you're nosy like me you've probably been wondering what on earth has been going on inside.

Well!   The Malmaison has undertaken a £1.2 million refurbishment, focussing mainly on creating "Chez Mal" - a complete re haul of the old bar and brasserie area as well as refurbishment of all of the bedrooms. 

I'm a very lucky lady as the lovely Claire Barber kindly invited me inside for an exclusive sneaky peak.  Step this way!

The first thing I noticed when I walked up the stairs into Chez Mal was that things were back to front!   The restaurant has moved to the Quayside end of the hotel, and the bar has moved to the back.  

This reshuffle is genius, with the restaurant benefitting from a larger lighter space and the bar being rehoused in a darker area that is going to have an amazing ambience in the evenings.

We started off in the Bar where we enjoyed a few cheeky cocktails to get the party started.  I helped myself to a glass of Malmaison Fizz (a fruity combination of Champagne, Pink Grapefruit Vodka, Ginseng and Elderflower Cordial) and took a little walk round as I really couldn't get over the transformation of the room.

Anyone who has eaten in the old Brasserie will remember it was quite dark and felt a little clutterd with tables.  Gone are the tired grey carpets and dark furniture. The new look bar is far sleaker with exposed wooden floor, beautiful little booths, funky exposed lights and a huge bar lined with red and blue bar stools serving up delicious cocktails.

The bar brings us a brand new destination to head at weekends for those in Toon looking for somewhere that's sophisticated yet still fun.  Thursday to Saturday nights will see a DJ creating a fantastic atmosphere and the Chez Mal Bar is set to become something different to what we have seen before.

Simon and I have always been big fans of hotel bars, with their comfy seats and well made cocktails and the Mal have really upped their game by offering something that's so much more than your average hotel bar.  I can't wait to take him along on our next date and it is definitely somewhere I'll be heading when I have friends visiting me in Newcastle.

After finishing off my cocktail, curiosity was definitely getting the better of me so I managed to get myself a little tour of the new look bedrooms. 

The Mal has always been famed for dark purple furnishings but these have now been replaced with greys and reds as well as fun pop art decorating the rooms.   The rooms are still beautifully furnished to the Malmaison's high standard and now come with a far more practical desk area for working at and brand new flat screen TVs.

I've been wanting to stay at the Mal for ages, it's the perfect place to celebrate an anniversary or birthday and these rooms have just got me even more determined to spend a staycation in my favourite city centre hotel.

The front of Chez Mal now plays host to the restaurant which looks amazing.  The windows seem much larger than they did before, and the exposed brick work effect on the wall really gives the restaurant a lift.

Just look at the view of the Quayside from the window!  Wow!

Centre stage are large pictures of Napoleon and his wife Joesphine, which leads me to a quick history lesson on the Malmaison's namesake.

Whilst Napoleon was overseas fighting, Joesphine bought The Chateau de Malmaison, just outside Paris as a present to herself.  When Napoleon returned he wasn't too happy with her for spending so much money but Josephine loved to use the Malmaison to host parties.

As part of the Chez Mal launch, the Mal have decorated the pair with spots as part of their "Get Spotted" campaign.  I love the Mal for taking history and marking it with their own stamp of fun and colour.

Of course I couldn't go into the restaurant without trying out the menu so settled myself down for a three course lunch.  

I spent forever studying the menu, there was so much to choose from and I'm really awful at making decisions when presented with such a great choice.   In the end I opted for Frito Misto as a starter, tiger prawns, calamari and courgette in a tempura batter.  I wouldn't usually pick something battery as a starter but it sounded so good it had to be done.  

I was surprised by how huge it was when my plate showed up and despite being an expert in eating, it defeated me!  The batter was beautifully light and crispy, the fish was perfect and I loved the aioli it was served with.  Unfortunately the sweet chilli dipping sauce was a little too hot for me but I'm a bit of a wuss!  

I set a bit of a trend for my main course and ordered the Smoked Haddock Fishcake which sounded so good several others on my table opted for the same.  It was served with a poached egg and spinach.   It was the perfect size dish after my indulgent starter.

After a brief pause it was on to the dessert and I couldn't help but choose something I loved on my last visit, the Mal Hot Chocolate.  A large cup of white chocolate and vanilla ice-cream served with a pot of hot chocolate sauce.   Believe me this dessert is not for the fainthearted, I struggled to finish it - but obviously as I am a dessert professional with a very sweet tooth, I did manage it. 

It's all change at the Mal with a brand new General Manager to go with the great new look.  But what hasn't changed is the wonderful atmosphere and the friendly professional staff.  I am so excited about the launch of Chez Mal, and am already planning a return visit to celebrate my birthday later in the month. 

I really would recommend you go in for a nosey at the changes.  You may be surprised to discover that the Mal is so much more than your average hotel.  As well as the fresh new bar and gorgeous food you can also enjoy a luxurious pampering session in the hotel's Le Petite Spa or treat yourself to one of the amazing special offers.

Make sure you let me know your thoughts on the new Chez Mal once you've popped in!

I was invited to the Mal for complimentary lunch and cocktails but all thoughts are my own.



  1. The food looks really good, and I'm loving that window with the view and all! <3


  2. That food looks amazing! I'm not a huge fan of seafood but it just looks so nice is probably give it a try.

  3. Looks amazing! How nice does that hot chocolate look? Great review! Xx

  4. Ooh wow, that hot chocolate! A few friends have stayed here in the past and loved it, I've always been keen to spend a night away on the beautiful Quayside - shame the boyfriend doesn't like the busyness of town! x

    What Rachael Wrote

  5. I love the way it's been transformed into a boutique hotel with a real New York feel to it. Mr S and I love hotel bars too, they're never too busy and you can usually sit down and enjoy a really good cocktail.
    Lots of love,

    SilverSpoon London

  6. Wow this looks stunning - I wasn't too sure when you told me the bar and brasserie had switched places as I loved sitting in the window seats at the bar with a cocktail but I agree it completely works and the brasserie looks amazing in it's new location - definitely much brighter. We have stayed at the malmaison a few times in the past and I have always loved how indulgent it is - I bet it is even more so now! I need to find an excuse to whisk hubby away for the night now and see the transformation for myself!

  7. This might make you laugh, my only experience of the Mal is when I was a Virgin Vie consultant and I did a 'Girls Night' with Century Radio featuring Duncan James! (yummy) I loved the hotel, it was gorgeous but I have never considered staying there living on the doorstep. Will have to try and put that right now.We have stayed in the Liverpool one on a hen night and it was fantabulous!

  8. I've never stayed here but it does look gorgeous. And that dessert looks amazing!

  9. I love the d├ęcor and the food looks amazing.

    Lizzie Dripping

  10. Wow, they've done a great job, it does remind me a little of Hotel Du Vin actually.

  11. Great write up and sooo lovely to see you :) xxx

  12. Great write up and sooo lovely to see you :) xxx

  13. The new look is just perfect. I've always wanted to go in but I guess I get a little intimidated by hotel bars and restaurants! I will definitely get over that for a view of the Quayside and a fishcake that looks as good as this one does!

  14. Wow it looks and sounds amazing I have never been before. I really want to go for cocktails and the view. Katie x

  15. Looks like you had a lovely time! Absolutely stunning pics and yummy food!


  16. Looks like you had a lovely time! Absolutely stunning pics and yummy food!


  17. Mmm that dessert looks heavenly <3

    Etta xx

  18. The modern decor is superb and the food looks wonderful Lucy x


© New Girl in Toon | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig