As many of us do, I stay in hotels a lot. Mainly on business but sometimes for pleasure and occasionally I am lucky enough to mix both!
Am sure my needs are very similar to most frequent travellers: efficient check in and check out, a comfy bed, clean room and bathroom, peace and quiet, room to relax and work, decent room service and reliable, free wifi.
It would also be nice if the hotel had a bit of colour and character, perhaps reflecting the place I was in (may help me remember where I was!)
With the number of hotel chains there are out there – You’d think all the above would be easy to find but honestly – is it?
In steps Malmaison with their mantra ‘Dare to be different’
Malmaison were established in 1994 and were one of the first to challenge the status quo – almost always in interesting buildings such as an old prison in Oxford and the Royal Mail sorting office in Birmingham the décor is quirky, based on the Chateau de Malmaison after which the chain is named, amusing signage and toiletries they encourage you to pinch.
I stayed at one recently.
I had of course booked through a consolidator – Late Rooms I think it was this time but it could have been Trivago or perhaps it was Expedia….the point was it wasn’t the hotel itself.
Even though I now notice it says on its website ‘cheapest rooms guaranteed if you book through us’ – I wasn’t looking for a Malmaison, I was looking for a decent hotel near the station in Birmingham at a reasonable price
I stepped into a lovely foyer with oddly shaped sofas and a spiral staircase. Nice I thought.
The reception staff were very pleasant but I had to deal with the normal form filling and questions, showing my credit card for ‘any extras’.
My room was excellent, very spacious, with a large clean bathroom.
The wifi was free (I really rant at any hotels these day that charge!) although I still had to give my e-mail address – why can I just not connect as I can do in many coffee shops and fast food restaurants?
The room was dark though so I turned on all the lights- very trendy oversize light bulbs - cool.
All good so far – but then the normal niggles with hotel rooms started to get me.
Lovely looking unusual nibbles and snack bars in the Mini – bar ….How much???
Banana and caramel biscuits with the tea and coffee but the kettle couldn’t be plugged in where it was, it had to be moved very close to a socket with it’s ridiculously short lead – the only one I could find was the one I had plugged my laptop into.
The trendy looking light bulbs were great until I went to go to bed – no bedside light only a massive bulb hanging down directly in my face, nor could the Bathroom light be turned on without the hall light on as well.
I could go on.
Needless to say I had a wait to check out then hand in my key, have my bill checked, the usual mini bar question, before I was told there was nothing to pay and allowed to leave the building.
These might all sound like very little niggles to you but when all the effort has gone into the ‘quirky’ aspects, getting the basics wrong is even more annoying.
Malmaison are described as being mid-sized and operating at the luxury/lifestyle end of the market.
Each hotel has between 70 and 200 rooms, a bar, a brasserie, a private dining room. Some hotels have a champagne bar, a spa and most have gyms.
Not a lot different so far
In fact not a lot different at all
Their website has a section on it titled ‘Our Differences’. Excellent I thought, I can now find out what they are actually doing which is ‘daring to be different’.
Unfortunately I simply found details of their meeting facilities, their bars and brasseries and their spas – none of which were exactly breaking boundaries.
Please don’t feel I am having a go at Malmaisaon – I don’t believe they are any worse than any other ‘luxury/lifestyle’ hotel – in fact probably a bit better but if you are going to tell the world you ‘dare to be different’ then be so – the hotel industry is ripe for ‘revolution’, please someone ‘dare to be different’
Until they do I’m afraid I’ll continue to search for a hotel through Late Rooms rather than by brand….