Last night saw Newcastle’s elite strutting down the red carpet to the long-awaited launch of Chez Mal at the city’s iconic Malmaison hotel. The hotel has long been a feature of the skyline on Newcastle’s Quayside and is a firm favourite amongst visitors to our beautiful city because of it’s relaxed atmosphere and fantastic customer service.
Recently there’s been a movement of change at The Mal, as it’s affectionately known, and it’s all down to one man, new GM Vince Garrington. Boasting a CV that any hotelier would be proud to have, Vince and his team have brought the Newcastle Malmaison right up to date with a multi-million pound overhaul to the hotel’s bedrooms, brasserie and bar area. The hotel has long been known for its dark and ambient lounge bar and making a change this big was a bold move by Vince but boy has it worked. By opening up the window space at the front of the hotel and moving the brasserie into this area, the change is dramatic, light floods in and the views over the Tyne are spectacular.
As most of you know, I’m the Fashion Partner for The Mal and as the dress code for the event was “Dress To Impress” I wanted to make sure I didn’t let the side down. I wore a Stella McCartney culotte jumpsuit with my trusty Kurt Geiger heels and some simple jewellery with a cute Mulberry clutch (and my signature pompom).
On arrival guests walked the red carpet and were greeted with a glass of champagne, as far as receptions go you don’t get much better than that. There was a dedicated press area for guests to be photographed – all a very slick affair and that’s before we even got up the stairs.
As we made our way to the top of the stairs, we were once again stopped by paparazzi for our photograph with the amazing Chez Mal light installation in the background. We were again greeted by two gorgeous girls who advised us of the timings for the evenings events, the cocktail station locations and the beauty zone set up. This is one of the great things about the Malmaison, they really know how to throw a great shindig and every last detail is covered, with thoughtful extras including a Mini Pamper Lounge with a Benefit counter for make up touch ups, a Toni & Guy pop up salon with stylists on hand for hair styling, manicurists from Le Petit Spa just in case you fancied a little sprucing and even the very simple touches like appointing hostesses to keep the evening flowing.
First up, the bar area is amazing, with more than a little U.S. influence, it smacks of New York cool. Packed to the rafters with fashionistas, bloggers and North East celebrities and personalities, the atmosphere was palpable and one of real excitement. Local celebrity ITV newsreader and all-round gorgeous person Rachel Sweeney took to the floor to perform a handful of soulful numbers and man can this girl sing! Styled to rock and sporting an amazing Twenties inspired ‘do styled by Chris Summerly of North East based award winning celebrity hairdressers Hooker & Young. Being one of my homegirls, Rachel has told me many times before about her previous singing career but wow, the girl got game!
Local singer Annabel Pattinson performed a set of 14 songs and she’s definitely one to look out for, she’s such a great performer with a really cool look too, no doubt we’ll be seeing more of her.
Hot on her heels was Essex boy Mark Wright (formerly of ITV2’s The only Way is Essex) who put on a 90’s DJ set (surely the best era for music, right?!) and was then promptly mobbed for selfies by baying fans – he willingly obliged of course, even pausing to clean someones camera at one point, well if you’re gonna be photographed it’s got to be perfect, am I right?! Scarlett Moffatt and her family from the hit TV show Gogglebox also attended the event and they’re straight up hilarious. I can honestly say that I’ve never watched a single episode of Gogglebox, but after meeting Scarlett, I just might.
Other local celebrities in attendance included the always amazing Ashleigh Money Saver, Katie Cutler, PR to the North East A-List Claire Barber, Anna Harding and Matt Bailey from Capital FM’s breakfast show, ITV Weatherman Ross Hutchinson and Krispian Kardashian who owns an actual vineyard and is about to be knighted (OK, that last part MIGHT not be true).
One thing that sent partygoers into a frenzy was the arrival of Sting, sporting a full beard and looking dashing he posed for pictures with fans and spoke to guests commenting that both the hotel and the party looked great, before slinking off into the night, possibly looking for Roxanne.
Lets talk about the food, trust me, at the risk of sounding like a cliché, you will have never seen an event with a spread like this! I get around a bit, covering Fashion Month in London, Paris, Milan and New York and this was right up there with the best of them. With charcuterie, carvery, fish and dessert stations at various points around the brasserie all tastes were catered for and the presentation was impeccable. Constantly topped up and never left looking bare, the food managed to look amazing throughout the entire serving period and with over 250 guests that’s no mean feat. Even Sparky, who’s a tricky customer, said that the food at the Malmaison Newcastle beats any restaurant or hotel he’s ever been to so there’s a big high-five right there.
In a genius move there were dedicated cocktail bars scattered around the bar area so guests were never far from their next tipple and with several varieties on offer including virgin cocktails for those who were driving, there was literally something for everyone. In addition to this there was a regular bar serving craft beers, wines and champagne all courtesy of the hotel. Huge kudos to the barman with the killer dance moves too.
As far as launches go, and I’ve been to a few both in the UK and further afield, in terms of atmosphere, organisation and event planning, this was honestly one of the best I’ve ever been to. But that’s the thing about the Mal, they don’t cut corners and they don’t do things by halves. Vince and his team pride themselves on their service and it really shows, that’s not some schmaltzy statement made by the hotel, it’s something that’s evident from the outset and that everyone was talking about. From the hostesses making sure that everyone had a drink, to the GM personally thanking guests for attending, it’s the little things and the Mal are definitely good at remembering the little things.
As a hotel, everyone from the North East knows The Malmaison but by broadening out into a real destination The Malmaison have increased their brand power and opened up to a whole new market. With Cafe Del Mar DJ’s providing entertainment the vibe is cool and chilled, there’s no pressure and it’s not stuffy at all. It’s the type of venue you could arrive at and stay all evening, literally, you could book a room and roll upstairs afterwards. If you’re thinking of switching up your nights out and your bored with the same old scene in Newcastle, give Chez Mal a try, whether you go there for dinner or for late night drinks, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
Also, I heard the goodie bags were to die for but like Cinderella I forgot something on my way out of the party. However, unlike Cinderella, I left with both of my fabulous shoes…