I’ve lived in London for more than a decade but there’s always new things to discover.
Last month, on a walk through the historic area of Clerkenwell, I stumbled across the Malmaison hotel and a few weeks later I decided to check it out with a friend from out of town who was visiting.
The guesthouse boasts a lovely location, overlooking a small grassy park with plane trees yawning high into the sky.
It’s just a stone’s throw from Farringdon tube station, but its leafy surrounding makes it feel a world away from the bustle of London.
From the outside the Malmaison looks a little unapproachable, with a grand façade.
But on stepping inside, I was surprised to find dark interiors showcasing a spot of sex appeal.
Check-in was seamless and we made our way up to the third floor.
Navigating the purple coloured corridors, we checked into our Mal Club room.
I instantly loved the interiors, with a number of retro pieces echoing London’s swinging sixties – a leather recliner, a chrome and black leather swivel chair and overhanding reading lights.
The room overlooked the grassy park and I could hear the birds singing.
Looking around, there was everything we needed including an ironing set, a kettle and well-stocked mini bar.
In the ensuite bathroom, there was a range of Malmaison branded products and cotton buds – which are something hotels often neglect!
CHEZ MAL BRASSERIE
As my friend had a late afternoon flight, I arranged dinner in the basement restaurant Chez Mal Brasserie and at 6:30pm we ventured down.
The eatery is a gem, and I’d definitely return.
I was apprehensive when I spotted it was on the lower ground, but the place has a great atmosphere with red leather booths, candle light and a funky play list setting the tone.
We settled into a booth and a friendly waiter came to check in. Chez Mal has a generous menu and there are options to suit everyone.
After browsing the slickly designed menu book we opted for some seafood and vegetable tempura to start along with the prawn tacos, which came highly recommended.
As we were both fairly famished, we also put in an order for a slab of garlic bread with black garlic aioli sauce.
We both fell silent as the dishes arrives, with the generous portion sizes and neat presentation making us salivate.
Our stomach rumbles were definitely satisfied and we tried not to go overboard to leave rooms for mains.
For the next course, I ordered the blue cheese, chorizo and avocado-infused summer salad, (which is listed as a starter) as a main course size, while my companion plumped for the Cotes de bouef with béarnaise sauce.
To wash everything, I went for a vodka olive martini, which had a slight garlic taste that I couldn’t put my finger on.
The summer salad was divine and we struggled to work through everything after gorging on the heavy starters.
I had a nibble of the truffle parmesan fries but we failed to get through them all.
Despite feeling a little on the rotund side of things, I was hankering after something sweet and our helpful waiter advised us to try the pineapple and coconut cheesecake which is apparently everyone’s favourite. And it’s easy to see why, as this jazzed up interpretation on the traditional dish hits all the right notes, with sweet creaminess giving way to a crunchy biscuit base.
After dinner, we zoomed up the lift to bed.
I opened the window and let a gentle breeze waft in from the park. From there, the giant bed enveloped me into a deep slumber.
It was pretty lovely waking in the morning to the sound of bird song and shards of sunlight drifting across the room. There were blackout blinds but I always quite like rising with the sun.
I had to skip to work but I left my friend in bed to enjoy the convivial surroundings.
I received a report that the breakfast was good but not on a par with dinner.
So, if you’re looking for a slice of calm punctuated with a dash of sexy, check into the Malmaison on your next sojourn.
Malmaison London is located at 18-21 Charterhouse Square, Clerkenwell, London EC1M 6AH, UK
There is currently a Wine, Dine & Dream package available for £119, which entitles guests to a room, a two course dinner and a bottle of house wine in their room.
To book a stay or a table at the restaurant call 02037509402 or visit www.malmaison.com