Walking up the road from Birmingham New Street Station (notably the wrong road as I, of course, came out of the station by the wrong exit!) I turned the corner to see a very modern looking, rather imposing building; The Malmaison Hotel. (and part of the shopping centre!)
I arrived mid afternoon and some of my colleagues had been there all morning so I checked in on my own. When I asked if I could take the room keys for my colleagues so I didn’t greet them empty handed, my request was quickly met by the Malmaison receptionist. Everything had been pre-prepared and I was told that their rooms were ready. Awesome!
I made my way to the Work & Play area to find my colleagues. I opened the door to meet a group of disheveled management who had been sitting in this small, windowless room since 9.30am. It was unfortunate that this room had no natural light – the rest of the Work & Play space was lovely. A nice open plan shared working area, with (helpful) plug sockets on each table. I’d notified the hotel that there would be a latecomer to this meeting (me), but there wasn’t a chair in there for me. Nor was there anyone available to help get me one so I had to ask one of my colleagues to steal one from another room. A little disappointing since I had specifically told the hotel I was coming late, but not a huge issue.
I had reports from my colleagues that the lunch had been less than desirable (a few sandwiches and some chips) and that they were now ready for the bar. However, they noted that the unlimited soft drinks was a positive. At this point I wasn’t feeling overly confident about our meeting tomorrow where we had 22 people in a room for an offsite. You can’t over estimate the effects of having a window in the room. Throw in an unsatisfactory lunch and you have the perfect combination for a very unproductive afternoon.
Once the meeting was finished, we all went to our rooms to drop off our bags and planned to meet in the Malmaison bar (a couple of them went shopping!). My room was really really nice. I was really impressed with
it. There was a desk in the corner which was a perfect size, and the bed was huuuuge. There was one problem. I knew I was going to be drinking this evening, and I was very concerned by the amount of treats in the (very visible!) mini bar. I was worried that I would come back to the room and just eat everything. Thankfully I was ultimately too tired to even make it under the covers, but it was a close call.
The bar was very nice, and the barman who was serving us was extremely accommodating. There was a large group of us which kept getting bigger, and he was able to manage our tab with ease. The only thing which would have made this better would have been a waiter/waitress service so that people didn’t have to keep going to the bar. But I’m being picky. And lazy.
Because there was a large group of us by this point (around 24) we had pre-booked the Malmaison private dining room. I’d already picked the menu for everyone and it was really really good. Although I’m still getting grief for the fact that the starter included a wedge of lettuce (seriously, there’s always something people will find to complain about!). The service was very good. I’m sure that dealing with 24 rowdy people was a bit of a challenge, but we had no issues whatsoever. Even that one dietary requirement which appeared as the main course was being served was dealt with very well.
The next day we piled into our meeting room (with a window this time – albeit the thinnest window I have ever seen in my life). The unlimited tea and coffee certainly helped a few fuzzy heads! The facilities were great, and the sweets on the tables was a nice touch. But could we have some sherbet lemons next time please?
Lunch on the second day was fantastic. We all came out of the meeting room and I had to double check that it was actually for us! After the comments I’d had about the lunch for the management team the day before, I was bracing myself for the worst. But we had a rather fabulous Chinese buffet which was loved by everyone! I got so much credit for it that I actually felt a bit bad since I didn’t even realise I’d ordered it!
The rest of the day went without issue and we all trotted off home at the end of the meeting. The one thing that I noticed when we came out, however, that there were no staff about anywhere. This was a general theme of my experience of the two days at the Malmaison. When I was looking for a chair I was hunting about for someone. There wasn’t even a phone anywhere for me to call someone on duty. I would have had to use my mobile and call the hotel reception. So if I was going to ask for something to make the stay better, it would be for more visible staff. But other than that, it was really very good and I would definitely go back.
Special thanks to Peter from Our Man In Europe for not only bringing the Malmaison Hotel to my attention, but helping with every step of the booking. He saved us countless hours of searching, contacting venues, and negotiating prices.
Date of stay: 14-15th June 2017