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Oxford's most distinctive stay comes courtesy of a night in a cell in Malmaison's converted Victorian prison. Now decked out in crushed velvets and designer style, it's an intimate venue for visiting couples with the city's sights and attractions all within walking distance of your lock up. Plush carpets, mood lighting and thick walls that ensure great soundproofing create an intimate feel, despite the building's structure having changed little since the last inmates left in 1996. The galleried internal cell wing is a cinematic classic, with the original cell doors, walkways and crossovers all lit by giant windows at either end. Elsewhere, light can be dim, which feels cosy in winter but a little bleak on a bright summer's day.

Your expert reviewer

Etain O'Carroll
Travel Writer
Etain O’Carroll is a freelance travel writer and photographer based in Oxford with a passion for wild places, human stories and how travel affects the world



Oxford Castle Unlocked, behind the hotel, gives you the low-down on the prison's history, adding an extra layer of understanding to your stay.

The city's colleges and attractions, as well as the bus and train station, are all within walking distance. The hotel is part of the Castle Quarter, home to Oxford's 11th-century castle, as well as bars and restaurants.
By car: The hotel is 1 hour 30 mins from London, 1 hour 20 mins from Birmingham and 3 hours from Manchester. There is some paid parking on-site.
By train: London Paddington or Marylebone to Oxford takes around 1 hour. The hotel is a 10-minute walk from the station. thetrainline.com

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Style & Character

The trendy design and intimate atmosphere make the hotel best for couples looking for a quirky but romantic escape. We love the celebration of the building's former use, cleverly integrated original features, and the aptly-named 'best toiletries you'll ever steal'.

Service & Facilities

Check out the original cell in the basement, left as it was when the prison closed in 1996.

  • Bar
  • Restaurant
  • Garden
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Pet-friendly
  • Parking

Well behaved dogs over 1 year old can stay in some rooms, for a charge of £20 per night, but are not allowed in the restaurant or bar.


We love the subtle nods to the building's former use in the mini-bars - which are made to look like prison lockers - and the tally-mark carpets. Go for a spacious Halfmoon Suite or, better still, the Governor's Suite, with its four-poster bed and mini cinema.

Standard Double House of Correction, Standard Double, Club Double, Standard Double Cell Room, Club Double Cell Room, Junior Suite, Suite, Signature Suite
Facilities include: Queen-size bed, ensuite bathroom with shower, free Wi-Fi, TV, hairdryer, desk, tea and coffee facilities

Food & Drink

The cosy brasserie is great in winter, but opt for the terrace in summer to avoid the basement location and lack of natural light. We love the menu's disruptive classics, such as squash and kale mac 'n' cheese or the truffle and parmesan fries.

Chez Mal: modern brasserie-style dining, European dishes, burgers, steaks, bar snacks. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Mains from £12.

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