Converted prison boutique hotel
Sponsor / Operator
MWB Group Holdings
Malmaison group of hotels
Malmaison Oxford, in Oxford, UK, is part of the Malmaison group of hotels and is owned by MWB Group Holdings, a UK-based property development company. Opened in 2006, the hotel is set in the Oxford Castle complex, which was built in 1071.
Oxford Castle functioned as Her Majesty’s Prison Oxford from 1888 to 1996. The prison was converted into a luxury hotel by MWB Group, with part of the original building being refurbished by Oxford Castle.
Design of Malmaison Oxford
The Malmaison Oxford hotel is housed in a large area of the prison block. It has retained its original heavy metal doors and wrought ironwork stairs.
The refurbishment included the conversion of jail cells into guestrooms, and the creation of new apartments, bars, restaurants, event venues, art galleries and other public spaces.
Pictures depicting prison life hang on the hotel walls alongside portraits and a painting of the hotel chain’s namesake, Château de Malmaison.
Accommodation at Malmaison Oxford
Malmaison Oxford offers 95 boutique hotel rooms and suites with a mix of historic and modern facilities. Original cells with genuine doors and bars are available.
Each hotel ‘cell’ has mood lighting, power showers, CD libraries and internet access. All rooms have a selection of wines.
Suites located at the C wing of the hotel are categorised as Thomas Lowton Robins, Duplex, Halfmoon and Junior Suites. The Thomas Lowton Robins Suite, named after a former prison governor, has a private cinema room, a four-poster bed, a stand and speakers for iPods, a Victorian bath in the living room and a walk-in shower.
The hotel also features romantic suites, including ‘Love Suite Love’. Guests of this suite are supplied with champagne, chocolate-dipped strawberries, aromatic oils and candles.
Malmaison Oxford also has an in-house gym and its spa, Le Petit Spa, offers a range of in-room spa treatment options.
The brasserie forms a central location to eat and drink at the Malmaison Oxford. It serves a range of cuisines and uses local ingredients.
Private dining rooms are available for business lunches and other occasions.
The bar serves an assortment of cocktails and champagnes along with Malmaison’s own-brand Johnny Walker. Organic beer from Battersea Brewery, a London-based microbrewery, local wines and specialist jams are also available.
The Malmaison group is a mid-sized boutique chain that began operations in 1994. The group operates 12 boutique hotels throughout the UK.
The Château de Malmaison is on the outskirts of Paris, France, and was once owned by Josephine, Napoleon Bonaparte’s first wife. The chateau’s style has been visibly reproduced in all Malmaison hotels.
Oxford Castle development
Restoration of the Oxford Castle and site buildings was undertaken by Oxford Preservation Trust after the project was awarded £3.8m by The Heritage Lottery Fund. Oxford Preservation Trust is a governing body established to protect historic buildings in Oxfordshire.
The Heritage Lottery Fund is taken from part of the income generated by the UK National Lottery to preserve national heritage monuments.
Oxford Preservation Trust has created a new visitor attraction, Unlocked – Oxford Castle as part of the refurbishment programme. Costumed guides reveal Oxford’s lesser-known history with tales of escape and romance in the ancient castle and prison.
Malmaison Oxford contractors
Knowles and Son, a building contractor in Oxford, subcontracted Glass UK to work on the entrance of the £40m restoration of the Oxford Castle and Prison. The design was a joint effort by Knowles and Son, and architect Panter Hudspith. Together, they produced a design for the entrance that made a feature of the original structural walls.