Malmaison Edinburgh is the mother of Mal’s – the original Mal Hotel which first opened back in 1994 has recently undergone an extensive refurbishment, and lucky us, we were kindly invited to experience the new look Mal. Read on to find out whether it receives the TLE seal of approval.
Arrival and Check In
Often a scarcity in Edinburgh this hotel offers guests complimentary car parking. This was helpfully detailed in our pre-check in welcome email. We’re off to a good start! The email was well branded a la Mal style and contained all the useful information required to find the hotel and make check-in easy.
The entrance to the hotel is beautiful – the building which, is home to Mal Edinburgh, was built in 1883 and still and retains many of the original features so you immediately feel a sense of grandeur and heritage.
The receptionist was extremely friendly, helpful and professional and although she did offer to show us to our room and assist with luggage we declined and made our speedy way to our Deluxe Club room. The hotel has 100 rooms that vary in size, amenities and views, from a standard double through to The Port of Leith Suite. Our room was located on the top floor which meant that we took the lift for three floors and then had to use one small flight of stairs – not a problem for us ‘young’ fitties but something to note if you struggle with mobility. Although I am sure the hotel staff have means to overcome this.
The reception area is stylish and modern with funky background music playing. The wall art and décor throughout the hotel pays tribute to the local docking heritage (a signature décor feature of Mal hotels) with sailors and nautical features adorning the walls.
Our room was beautiful. Rich, dark colours and materials were used in the décor and soft furnishings with key furniture pieces such as a chez long adding that extra feel of luxury and opulence.
Our room was located on the top floor and architecture of the building such as triangular windows and the pitched roof were incorporated as features within the room that created a cosy, almost sultry, ambience. The only downside was that the small windows didn’t let much air flow through.
The Malmaison website claims that their beds are unbelievably comfy and I have to say there is absolutely no disputing that. Once I was in there it was a struggle to get out. Bed sheet bliss!
The bathroom was small and boasted a great size walk in shower. There wasn’t a bath but I’m not a bath person so that didn’t bother me. The Mal ethos is ‘Dare to be Different’ and there is evidence of this running right through the hotel, often very subtly done but I loved the way it was executed. For example the messaging on the shower gel ‘ the best shower gel you’ll ever steal!’ and ‘clear up’ v ‘clear off’ on the door hangers for hotel staff.
We were delighted by the personal hand written card and beautifully crafted sweet nibbles on our welcome platter – all of which tasted even better than they looked …..if that was possible!
Chez Mal Bar and Brasserie
Before we headed to Chez Mal Brasserie for dinner we enjoyed a couple of drinks in Chez Mal Bar. It was busy and had a lively atmosphere with hotel residents and locals alike enjoying a Friday night tipple of too. Great drinks menu including a creative cocktail list. Bar and waiting staff were friendly and efficient. Complimentary nuts are served with drinks – I love that!!
We were running a little late for our dinner reservation but this didn’t cause any problems and the team were extremely obliging in accommodating our tardiness.
Once shown to our table we were presented with both the drinks and dinner menu. There was also a summer special menu on offer – this included seasonal specials such as summer pea and pancetta croquettes and pan-fried sea trout with a citrus salad. As tempting as the different options sounded we chose three courses from the A La Carte Menu.
My Devon crab starter was beautifully presented but I had a real case of food envy when Simon was served his Scallops with pea puree, pancetta & Morel mushrooms. Apparently they were super succulent and piping hot – served to perfection!
We both chose the Pan roast Black Angus New York strip steak with weight options 250g, 350g, 450g or 550g available. I chose the 250g and Simon the 450g. The menu described it as well marbled and very tender. Wow. Wow. Wow. This was the truly outstanding. The flavours running through every ounce (or gram!) of meat were just delicious and it literally melted in your mouth. We both agreed that this steak was in our top five ……….EVER. It was served with our signature slow roasted onion, soubise purée and a homemade steak sauce all of which complimented the dish superbly. I could have enjoyed a plate of the roasted onion and soubise puree on their own. Unusually we shared a portion of fries (we don’t usually share!) and I’m glad we did as the steak centre stage and accompaniments were more than enough. A truly fabulous dining experience.
Both stuffed to the brim but so impressed with our main we had to see how a dessert would fair against this top five standard. Another insula scenario it was Simon who requested the extra spoon in the hope that he’d get a dig at my sticky toffee pud. When this was served my jaw dropped. It was a mountain of sponge oozing with treacle and toffee sauce with a cool creamy dollop of vanilla ice cream. Even I would struggle to finish this. So I thought. As my spoon made its first dent in this treacle brown sponge it almost bounced straight back out – it was so light, fluffy and suitably sticky. Although I am usually more of a stodgy pudding girl on this occasion I was relieved this was not the case. I devoured the lot (with a little help from the extra spoon) and I truly was undeniably bursting at the seams with too much wonderful food and wine.
On the note of wine we drank a lovely light Rosé– a compromise as I struggle with Red and Simon struggles with White. Our waitress (I forgot to ask her name) was really knowledgeable and recommended the Leoubé, Château Leoubé, Provence, France after we described the flavours we like. She was great.
By the time we’d finished our three-course extravaganza the rest of the restaurant was empty which was nice in a way but I also did remind us that we were in a hotel restaurant. The lighting was also quite bright – I think if this had been dimmed even just a tiny bit the place would have been more atmospheric. A very small observation in what was otherwise a truly top class dining experience.
The fitness fan that I am I’d packed my kit thinking I’d work off dinner and make room for breakfast. How foolish of me. I only just woke up in time to make breakfast and even then my tummy certainly wasn’t wanting following the earlier feast. I did pop my head into the gym area, which was small but well equipped with cardio machines and some free weights. All you need for a quick morning sweat.
Breakfast was served in The Chez Mal Brassiere.
As is usually the hotel breakfast case scenario there is a small additional charge for a cooked breakfast. However, after seeing the continental buffet we decided to stick with this. Fresh fruits a plenty, yogurts, cereals, preserves, breads, pastries, cheeses, ham …….so much to choose from!
But it was the homemade Granola that, for me, was the crowning glory – it was a good mix of cornflakes, nuts, oats, seeds, dried fruit all combined with a super sweet and sticky honey and baked (I think). However the chefs here created this breakfast delight it was a work of art. I was in heaven! After my third bowl I’d decided I should stop there that was until I noticed the shape and colour of the pain au raisins. Now this may be an odd comment but this is something I take note of when it comes to pastries and it is the determining factor as to whether I indulge or not. I’ve become quite good at picking out those mass-produced style however these were totally different a- even the shade of the pastry was not one I’d seen before. This suggested that they were exclusive to Malmaison and I simply had to try one. And I am glad I did.
The cooked breakfast menu looked good with a selection of savoury dishes including the full Scottish, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs and a sweet waffle option too. However, we really didn’t feel the need to top up with this as the continental was filling enough. Waiting staff were efficient and pleasant too.
Check out was 11am so after a thoroughly enjoyable stay we departed far more relaxed and about two stone heavier than when we arrived!!
Would I return? Absolutely. I think for a couple wanting to enjoy a romantic night or weekend away or for a few girlfriends wanting to enjoy a stylish city break this is the perfect choice. I live in Edinburgh and I would consider going back for a special occasion overnighter and we’re already checking the diary to see when we can have another meat feast steak night.
From £99.00 per night. However, room rates vary and there are often seasonal packages so best to check out their website or call for details.
Tel: 0131 285 1478
Address: 1 Tower Place, Edinburgh, EH6 7BZ