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It’s summer, and wherever you live, that means a trip to Europe. New to the continent? Keen to try something other than your major chains, but nervous about going independent? Here are six of the best European chains. NB: These are all also suitable for anti-chain snobs.
We’ve seen street art as a temporary exhibit at London hotels, but Malmaison is taking things further by making it a permanent feature: working with street artist Xenz, Malmaison London not only has completely new interiors, but a series of intricate murals by his hand throughout the hotel, from the lobby to the guestrooms.
We stopped by this week to have a look ourselves, heading over to sun-splashed Charterhouse Square, which the pretty red-brick building – a former nurses’ home – faces. It’s a quiet corner just north of Smithfield Market / the Barbican and east of Farringdon that’s easy to miss, but a short walk takes you into the City or to Holborn and St. Paul’s.
When we dubbed the Malmaison Dundee the U.K. hotel chain's "lucky 13th" property, it turns out we spoke too soon: it doesn't get much unluckier than being flooded three days before opening.
On November 28th, flooding, said to have been caused by an electrical fault, affected 15 of the hotel's 90 guest rooms. While Malmaison first claimed that the December 1st opening would go ahead as planned, that was not the case and there is currently no official opening date in sight.
We love Malmaison Hotels for their slinky design, usually reasonable rates, and for the fact that they are always located in buildings of historic interest. So we are happy to hear that they will be opening their 13th property on December 1st.
The new hotel will be located on the waterfront in Dundee, a city charitably described by the hotel company as "notorious for poets, inventors and architects," but remembered by some of us (who were born there) as grey, poor, and a wee bit depressing.
To be fair, though, in our absence, Dundee has made something of a comeback over the past few years. Where not too long ago, you could find nothing better than a Travelodge or a dodgy guesthouse, a trickle of higher end hotels have moved in too, such as the DoubleTree by Hilton and the Apex City Quay Hotel and Spa. The waterfront has been the center of this regeneration, with a huge development plan currently in progress that will turn the once-neglected area into a cultural hub filled with restaurants, green spaces, a new Kengo Kuma-designed Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Malmaison.
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Mal Edinburgh - the original Malmaison
We’re fans of the British Malmaison chain for decent value in interesting locations (all their hotels used to be some kind of cool old building) so we’d be up for trying their latest package – a Tale of Two Scottish Cities.
It’s no quicky break –you’ll spend a whole week between Glasgow and Edinburgh – but you won’t be stuck for things to do in either of those places. Split seven nights either way (we suggest three in Edinburgh and four in Glasgow, for ease of reaching the Highlands in the day time), and for £500 per person, you’ll get one Brasserie meal at each hotel, a bottle of whisky at one, and champagne at the other.
Being from London, when we think about sexy hotels, we don’t immediately think London. We think a little lovenest on the Seine, private beaches on the Med, that kind of thing. But now we are thinking again, because Boundary in little East London just got named the most stylish hotel in Europe at the European Hotel Design Awards.
We’ve kept meaning to visit Boundary since it opened in January, but were put off by the fact that it’s a Terence Conran project and we think of him as a bit posh for our tastes (we once went to his Bluebird restaurant in Chelsea to find we’d missed Kate Middleton – AKA Ms Prince William – by a couple of minutes).
But turns out we were wrong.
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MaMaison Riverside Hotel in Prague.
The latter we are familiar with as we have written about their funky boutique hotels (one is out of an old jailhouse) located all over the UK. But MaMaison had us intrigued.
According to its website, MaMaison has hotels and apartments throughout Central and Eastern Europe, perfect for guests who are looking for accommodations for "one day or one year."
Malmaison's latest hotel opens in Oxford this November.
The property is a converted prison, which now boasts swank rooms and free broadband.
H.M. Oxford Prison, the UK's first prison, was altered surprisingly little by designers-- with its cells, basement and castellated walls largely unaltered, to host the hotel. Don't worry, the designers did add plenty of Malmaison touches, so it probably won't feel prisonesque, let's hope.
Malmaison Oxford is offering an introductory rate for £110 that includes a complimentary bottle of wine.
Good chance to be one of the first to sleep in the now renovated H.M. Oxford Prison.