I must admit I was a little sceptical when I first met the CEO of Malmaison Hotels (Robert Cook).
This is despite it being one of Britain’s up and coming hotel groups renowned for modern décor and service with a smile.
But after a couple of meetings, I was gradually won over by a certain charm which lies at the core of this hotel group’s ethos of “hotels that dare to be different”.
As Mr Cook told me, their company philosophy is summed up by the statement “great style, great food and great value”.
Even allowing for the usual marketing hype, there seems to be enthusiasm and substance behind this.
Malmaison Hotel London tries its best to give its guests “unexpected surprises” and to develop a brand with a sense of humour.
For example the ashtrays might say “burn out” on them and the bill holder is known as “the damage”.
Some items say “stolen from Malmaison” – yes, they even turn a blind eye to guests running away with small toiletry items!
Music, mood, atmosphere and lighting are carefully managed. Malmaison is an unapologetically “quirky” brand and many guests seem to enjoy this.
I was impressed when Mr Cook told me that they send their staff on product-oriented training.
For example, bar staff might visit Absolut Vodka or whisky distilleries to learn directly from the source, instead of theoretical classroom training.
Malmaison’s informal approach is not to everyone’s liking, but the group continues to win accolades. They now have hotels all over the UK.
Their London hotel in Charterhouse Square is slightly off the beaten track near Farringdon (close to the City, London’s financial centre) but not at all far from the centre by tube.
It’s an area livelier on weekdays than weekends, however, there are plenty of bars and restaurants close by.
I’ve been impressed by the friendliness of staff members at the hotel whenever I’ve visited, albeit for a coffee rather than an overnight stay.
Recent guest reviews of the hotel have generally been positive.
People often comment on how much character this hotel has, its relative tranquillity and the down-to-earth, approachable staff.
The hotel seems to achieve the difficult balance of being modern and chic, while also offering good old-fashioned service.
The idea of “old-fashioned” service is dear to the brand’s heart, shaped by the fact that the Group’s CEO himself grew up in the hotel business.
Malmaison offer some “credit crunch beating” deals at the hotel if you are smart in timing your booking.
If you want a memorable hotel experience that doesn’t cost the earth then Malmaison London may definitely be worth considering.
Photo credits: Malmaison Hotels.