Chez Mal Newcastle
Boutique hotel brand Malmaison caters to those who demand something different, offering guests sumptuous accommodation with energetic bars and restaurants. Continually looking to enhance the customer experience, Malmaison is currently investing heavily in its bars to create elegant and sophisticated destinations.
Most recently, Malmaison Newcastle was the latest of the brand’s properties to reveal its new look Chez Mal bar. Located next to the hotel’s brasserie, Chez Mal boasts an eclectic cocktail menu as well as craft beer, wine and snacks. Since opening in May the venue has already proved to be a hit with its laid back ambience during the day and a vibrant atmosphere at night.
To carry out the redesign, Malmaison turned to North East based company Dakota House of Design. Together with contractor One Concept, Dakota set about transforming the space to bring it more in line with current UK bar design trends. Peter Hodgson, Dakota House of Design Managing Director, explained:
“At the original briefing meeting with the directors, it was our first thought that the existing bar was a bit too hard. The idea was to bring back a softer feel. The most recent trend in bars and restaurants has been ‘stripped back’, revealing the fabric of the building then adding other rustic items to this such as blackened steel frames and worn tin tiles.
“It was our idea to take this up a level by still using some of the inherent rustic feel of the fabric of the building but then adding more polished and softer elements. This is, in our opinion, where ‘on trend’ bar and restaurant interiors are heading.
“For instance we’ve kept the untreated brickwork to some of the walls but then added polished panelling with fabric inserts alongside this. Also planted walls and planted ceiling rafts bring a softened natural feel. Full height fabric and leather drapes and reeded glass crittall screens allow for the new raised rear area to be sub-divided for private party’s or meetings. Being able to pre-book an area is very much part of going out now.”
Peter and his team were also keen to use famous local historical figures from Newcastle, in particular Bessie Surtees. In the 18th century she lived on Newcastle quayside before eloping with her boyfriend John Scott, who later became Lord Chancellor of Great Britain, by climbing out of her first floor window.
In her honour a large portrait has been placed at the bar’s entrance, although to match the typically quirky Malmaison style all paintings in the bar have been shot with paint balls. Another reason for this was to help carry through a theme from the restaurant, where two Damien Hirst paintings adorn the walls with a similar style.
Whereas prior to the refurbishment the bar was on one level, it now incorporates the room opposite with a two-step raised area which adds to a feeling of drama as well as helping visually sub-divide the area. The bar itself has been redesigned with a new layout for the drinks display. Whereas before the spirits were on lower tiered displays and the glasses were on eye level, this has been swapped so the products are on eye level in rear illuminated box displays.
No visit to the Chez Mal is complete without sampling the venues famous cocktails. Taking inspiration from fresh in-season fruit and overseas trends, the latest concoctions include the Vesper Martini (Absolut Elyx, Caorunn Gin and Lillet Blanc) and the Gin Gin Mule (Bombay Sapphire, ginger beer, lime juice, mint leaves and sugar syrup). A wide selection of craft beer is also available alongside a wonderful wine list featuring handpicked selections from around the globe.
The new design has already proved to be a hit, with the expanded space proving to be great location for a relaxed drink in a warm and inviting setting. It complements the rest of the hotel’s offer and looks set to be a fixture for years to come.
Established in 2008, Dakota House of Design provides highly competitive interior design, architecture and visualisation services to the hospitality, leisure and residential sectors. The company has worked for a broad range of clients throughout the UK.