Review of Birmingham Malmaison – hotels from hell

I’ve decided to add a new category, ‘Brand of the week’. Now dear reader, this will go one of two ways…

A brand will surpass my expectations to the point of orgasmic joy and I will duly trot on to igmorrison.com and share my experience, waxing lyrical all the way.

Or (as is the case this week), a brand will fail miserably. Falling at every hurdle, limping over the finish line leaving me feeling like Victor Meldrew on a very, very bad day.

So,  Malmasion. Prides itself on its standards. It’s cheeky tone of voice, its superior product. My two night stay at the Birmingham Malmaison will see them enter the ‘brand of the week’ with a monumental smile on my face?

Sadly not.

General Manager of Birmingham Malmaison?

General Manager of Birmingham Malmaison?

BIRMINGHAM MALMAISON ROOM ONE:Suspect stainage on bedding. When housekeeping came to take it away, she asked if I’d called about the broken toilet (that they knew about). It looked like someone forgot to flush after leaving a rather large deposit. Not got round to fixing it clearly. Putting a guest in a room where you know the toilet is broken? Our first Birmingham Malmaison #fail

BIRMINGHAM MALMAISON ROOM TWO: Twin room, beds about 3-4in difference in height. Upon pulling covers back to investigate, I find several hairs. From both upstairs and downstairs. Bathroom could also have been cleaner. I explain to duty manager he needs to check room 3 before I am transported, as I’m now borderline livid at the number of fails they’re racking up.

BIRMINGHAM MALMAISON ROOM THREE: Hard stain on pillow (that scratches off), a not too spotless bath (more hairs), and a huge bit of fluff on the bathroom floor. Not a deal breaker and I’m desperate to shower for my imminent gin fuelled evening with Brum’s finest, so I make do. The duty manager offers a free round of drinks in the bar and adds breakfast to my order.

I’m happy(ish), but disappointed in the poor cleanliness standards across the board. Three rooms that fall below par is unacceptable in a bog standard hotel, let alone a Mal!

BIRMINGHAM MALMAISON BAR: Attentive service, we leave smiling, with an invite to pop back in later if we’re passing.

BAR THREE HOURS LATER: My party arrive back at the Birmingham Malmaison bar. Barman advises us twice to sit down. The second time he tries to hurry us away from the bar, we are offered a lap dance from one of the waitresses (but only if we leave the bar area). He was  ‘wasted’ from last night apparently and informed us it’d be a ‘long wait for drinks’,  as he was going to ‘take ages doing these ones’.

We turn on our heels and left immediately.

BREAKFAST: I ordered a tray and The Guardian for 11.30am. I chase this via the duty manager at 12.24pm, 12.45pm (it’s just in the lift), 12.55pm (should be with me in just a minute), and at approximately 1.17pm as I’m on the phone demanding a call from the regional manager, breakfast arrives. Almost 2 full hours late. Third call, duty manager denies when we spoke at 12.24pm that he said ‘It’d be right up’. Which he did…

To add insult to injury, no Guardian (not a Malmaison house paper), which the duty manager failed to tell me on the telephone each time I chased), and the apple juice was off. The head office email and telephone details I requested were not forthcoming…

DUTY MANAGER #2: English was not his first language. A serious breakdown in communication during my complaint led me to believe he was offering my two night stay for free given all of the above. This was not the case. He was inviting me to pack my bag and leave the hotel immediately, despite having another night booked.

BIRMINGHAM MALMAISON AREA MANAGER: Calls approx 1.30pm ish. Informs me he’s seen many of my tweets which concern him greatly (yet he chose not to responded to a single one), and is now ‘very concerned’ about my stay. Refuses to believe there is a cleanliness issue at the hotel (despite my having issue with three rooms), and also feels it’s best I leave the hotel ‘as if anything else goes wrong, it’s just going to compound the issue’. He offers to refund my 2nd nights stay to allow me to find accomodation elsewhere (at my own expense).

Not, we’ll make sure we offer kick arse service, I just want you out my hotel to be someone elses problem.

*MARKETING BIRMINGHAM: Upon seeing my barrage of tweets, @sianroberts15 from Marketing Birmingham got in touch to check everything was ok and my stay in Birmingham wasn’t being spoilt. A remarkably nice touch.

As you know, I’m pro-tourism. Whichever intern running @BirminghamMal should have a little chat with Marketing Birmingham regarding the ins and outs of social media…

MAKE GOOD: I was offered a gift card which worked out to a one night free stay based on the rate I’d paid the booking agent (which was obviously well below the rack rate). They cannily ensured any return visit would see me having to pay full price !

Given the high standards Malmaison  claim to offer (I’ve stayed in several other Mals and never been this disappointed), I must admit I was a little surprised at the lacklustre response from Birmingham Malmaison. Given the breakdown in communication only compounded my anger, I still cannot believe the whole bill wasn’t refunded.

THE VERDICT: Birmingham Malmaison should be avoided, there are plenty of alternative options in Birmingham of a similar / higher standard (e.g. Radisson Blu).  I had an exceptionally poor experience, but don’t just take my word for it, check tripadvisor. S eems there are quite a number of people who’ve had negative experiences during their stay…

One duty manager was on the ball (well done Jamie), and dealt with me sharpish. The other only added to the problem and the area manager sadly did little to placate me. 

As an aside, It seems @BirminghamMal only respond to good news stories on social media. They have an awful lot to learn…

Iain G. Morrison would like to congratulate Birmingham Malmaison on becoming the first ‘Brand of the week’, providing hotel service that would embarrass even Basil Fawlty himself…

*SPECIAL MENTION FOR MARKETING BIRMINGHAM: For their welcoming manner, their social media savvy and all round Brummy goodness…

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About igmorrison

Modern day marketing man, living in an old mans world... If you want to know more about me, visit: www.linkedin.com/in/igmorrison find me on twitter @igmorrison or just leave me a comment.

3 responses to “Review of Birmingham Malmaison – hotels from hell”

  1. Beki Davies says :

    What a great idea; fantastic first brand of the week, not so good for Malmaison, but frankly they should have dealt with the issues promptly and competently.
    Cant wait for next week!

  2. caressamba says :

    My family and I stay in a hotel for Christmas, as we don’t see each other much and it takes the pressure off. A few years ago we stayed at the Birmingham Mal and had a fantastic stay – they were incredibly accommodating, including table service in the bar for food rather than asking us to move to the restaurant, out-of-hours dishes and alterations to the set menu at no extra cost. The rooms were clean and pleasant, and the staff were friendly and helpful.

    We returned the following year, when the hotel had come under new management. Everything was much poorer – bearing in mind the cost of a family of five staying for 3 nights including meals and bar tab, there was no sign of last year’s fantastic service. The rooms smelled stronglyh of smoke despite being non-smoking rooms (my Dad is vehemently anti-smoking and it was fairly obvious the staff were the likely culprits, and we were moved), they accommodated my elderly grandmother in a room on a different floor from the rest of us despite having very few overnight guests, and the staff were rude. When it came to eating, the same simple requests – I was vegetarian and strangely did not want to eat artichoke for starter AND main, so asked for a simple side salad instead – were first met with refusal, then with a little ‘persuasion’ (i.e. complaining) they were honoured but we were charged extortionately. £8 for a few leaves when the meal is £60+ a head? Especially as it was a substitution and not an extra! Likewise, I have something of a soft spot for creme brulee and know that as a French restaurant they always have them on the menu – year one, the chef was more than happy to prepare one for me and the Maitre d’ brought it over with a smile and was pleased I liked it so much. Year two, I was told it was Christmas pud or pay extra. Fair enough that we were being what could be considered a little awkward, but we were asking for things that they definitely had in stock, and were paying through the nose for already. Shocking service, and at Christmas also a very miserly attitude.

    Year 3 we went back for the final time, purely due to a discounted room rate. the terrible service continued, the food was poor, and the service was dreadful. We won’t be going back again. It makes me angry to see that we are not the only ones who have found their attitude to complaints to be poor – people in the service industry – particularly when they are charging high prices, should realise that even when someone is unhappy, they can still leave feeling that the matter has been resolved and handled appropriately. They should also understand the power of social media or they may find their reputation preceeds them in the future.

  3. IGMorrison says :

    Caressamba, the email I have from the Commercial Director (which he opted to send instead of calling me as agreed), is absolutely priceless. I would share it now, but I’ve given the marketing director my word I’ll give her 24 hours to resolve this matter.

    Needless to say, they are getting their social media house in order. I’ve proved something of a wake up call for them. But if they don’t pull their finger out, I’m going to become a far more painful thorn in their side…

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