Oxford Castle, 3 New Rd, Oxford, OX1 1AY, France
Tel: +44 (0) 1865 268 400
Website: View bar's website
Style: Hotel bar
Recommended for: Fun/atmosphere
Price guide: High-end
Food: Full menu
Images By: diffordsguide.com
The Malmaison is situated in Oxford's former prison, and it's worth visiting just to get an idea of what it's like to be in chokey - the bedrooms have been formed from three cells knocked together, and there are still bars on the windows. There's also a single cell left as it was.
There are two bars, both having essentially the same drinks and staffed by the same bartender. The third floor bar is the main one, situated in the former visitors room - a high-ceilinged space kitted out in the plush fabrics and modern furniture that distinguishes Malmaisons. There's also a basement bar that's more of a dispense bar for the brasserie.
Unfortunately it's more a matter of style (and actually it's starting to look a bit dated) over substance. On our last trip, there was a confusion over menus and the ingredients of certain classic drinks and the bartending technique was less than finessed - champagne bubbling all over the place tempered only by pouring more cognac directly into our champagne cocktail, and cranberry juice making an unexpected appearance in our French 75.