Tim Firmager checks into the newest Malmaison Brighton hotel location, in Brighton’s Marina area to see how it compares to the rest of the brand.
The boutique hotel group, Malmaison has recently opened in its fifteenth location, Brighton. Malmaison Brighton is located on the marina – a taxi ride away from the gay bars and clubs of the city centre, and boasts all-new bedrooms, a brasserie and bar wth a sea-view conservatory. We at Vada decided to check-in to this latest Brighton hotel to find out what is on offer.
Malmaison Brighton has circa 70 rooms, with 2 suites becoming available in early summer of 2017. After finding the nearly-hidden entrance and taking the lift up to the second floor, check-in was a relatively seamless process. Although our room wasn’t quite ready at 3pm (the advertised check-in time), we passed the 15 minute wait in the bar with a glass of complimentary welcome champagne at no particular inconvenience.
Not unnoticed was the extensive snagging activities that were going on at Malmaison Brighton, meaning there are as many workmen moving around the public spaces as hotel guests. The hotel does uphold the feeling of boutique accommodation, for example the designer furniture – including an abundance of statement light shades, bold use of colour and materials. However the number of contractors noticeably detracted from this. We were told this will only take another couple of weeks, so by the time of publishing, expect this disruption to be minimal.
In addition to the bar, the hotel has a large lounge area, and restaurant, and several configurable conferences spaces.
There are 11 room categories at Malmaison Brighton. We stayed in a mid-tier Mal Club room with ocean view (room 329) which is located on the upper floor with a large balcony overlooking the marina. The room is a contrast of minimalist design and block colours with urban design. A chaotic, map-style wallpaper the opposes (both physically and metaphysically) the bare wall on the other side of the room with freestanding wardrobe, desk area and minibar. The minibar also includes a bountiful selection of snacks.
The bed was superbly comfortable, and certainly no fights with the pillows or duvet needed to allow us to fall into the land of nod. There were plenty of plugs and USB charging points by the bed and desk area – a basic necessity, but one so crucial when travelling. The only critique was that the door to the sizeable balcony was not hung entirely squarely, which on a particularly windy day could be troublesome. Perhaps another snag, waiting to be completed after we checked out.
The bathroom mirrored the minimalist design approach, with a rain shower and handheld one, although being so close to water the pressure could have been a little more powerful.
The Chez Mal Brasserie was surprisingly impressive. This dining venue, hidden away within Malmaison Brighton is easily bookable online, and has a refreshing menu and luxurious interior compared with the blandness of the chain options surrounding the Marina. Cleverly used bronze work and translucent curtains help separate the restaurant into area, and adding just a hint of privacy.
We started with the pan roasted scallops (£12.50) served with Jerusalem artichoke purée, mushrooms and chestnut crumbs and a tempura of calamari and prawns (£9) with a chilli jam and creme fraiche. We did have a small worry about the freshness of the scallops, but they were well cooked and the light artichoke purée complimented the shellfish well.
Main course arrived in the form of an immediate food-envy inducing Black Angus New York strip steak (350g) (£32) with peppercorn sauce. The slow roasted highland venison steak (£16.50) served with pan-fried maple glazed bacon, pickled baby beets and pomme mousseline (think equal parts mashed potato and butter, whipped into perfection) was a runner for the ‘food FOMO’ (fear of missing out) award. We also shared sides of truffle and Parmesan skin-on fries, sautéed mushrooms and crushed winter roots.
Desserts were generous in portion size and flavour. The vanilla panna cotta (£6) with poached winter fruits, smooth, creamy and fruity. The Valrhona dark chocolate fondant (£6) with peanut butter ice-cream and sesame brittle verged on excessive yet remained moreish. What was more impressive was the continuous excellent service throughout the meal.
Breakfast is served within the conservatory area of the same restaurant. Whilst this does allow views across the marina, we hope you enjoy them as you may be looking at it for a while. There was a 40 minute wait – yes, four-zero, for eggs royal despite asking several times. Unsure whether Malmaison Brighton were waiting for local hens to lay fresh eggs or for a local shop to open, timing was seriously out of kilter. For reference 10 minutes is the optimum wait for any hot breakfast in any hotel.
Malmaison’s expansion into Brighton is a sign of the brands growing success. This mid-range hotel offers some boutique touches at affordable prices. Clearly the hotel has some finishing touches to attend, and a review of its breakfast service and staff rota. However the overall excellent service, strong offering from the restaurant and boutique design will hold Malmaison Brighton in good stead as the suites complete and the weather warms. Malmaison Brighton is therefore a serious consideration for those wanting a weekend away in the British gay capital.
Malmaison Brighton is located at Waterfront, Brighton Marina Village, BN2 5WA
Rates start from £89 per night. For more information and to book, visit www.malmaison.com.