Motel One, Newcastle - August/September 2016
A few weeks ago we were lucky enough to be invited to visit one of Newcastle’s newest hotels. Right in the heart of Newcastle city centre, tucked away on a quiet side street is Motel One. I’ve walked down this street numerous times since the hotel opened last December, but when I arrived I realised that I had never noticed it before. This colossal lapse in observation reminded me of the way muggles’ eyes slide over the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter but there is no diversionary magic at work here. Perhaps, instead, the answer to this riddle is simply that Motel One’s tasteful brick exterior fits in so well with its surroundings on this old cobbled street, that it doesn’t shout out “HOTEL CHAIN” in the way that some other accommodation brands do.
Motel One is a German company with hundreds of hotels in mainland Europe, which is expanding its franchise in the UK. The founder of the company previously owned and ran 5* hotels but decided to move into the ‘luxury budget’ category. Despite Motel One’s blessedly un-stratospheric prices, it’s clear from this Newcastle venture that 5* lessons once learnt are not easily forgotten.
Once we stepped over the threshold to be greeted by a dazzling chandelier in an atmospherically arched entranceway, the differences between Motel One and other hotel companies in the same price bracket became more and more apparent. I was impressed straight away by the stylish interior: the sleek bar, plush furnishings and trendy colour schemes all gave the hotel a sense of relaxed elegance. And speaking of the bar, it may well have been my favourite thing about Motel One…
As well as its chic aesthetic, the bar had plenty of substance to complement its style: working with the Fire Brick Brewery, based in nearby Blaydon, the bar has an excellent selection of local beers but, despite my liking for a good cup of ale, it was the cocktails that won the night for me. The Motel One drinks menu included several bespoke cocktails, specially designed for the Newcastle venue, as well as twists on old classics. What impressed me even more than this originality was the bar staff’s competency: each member of the team was fully cocktail-trained (rare in any bar, but especially that of a budget hotel) and were able to cater to my particular cocktail tastes without batting an eyelid.
In fact, all of the staff that I met at Motel One impressed me on the evening and are definitely deserving of a mention, they were knowledgeable, enthusiastic, accommodating and well-presented – everything that good hotel staff should be.
As I (reluctantly) moved away from the bar to explore the rest of the hotel, I discovered even more reasons to like it! Number one was the fantastic outdoor seating area, such a rare gem in the city centre. This lovely, spacious terrace would be a great place to relax with one (or several) of the bar’s aforementioned excellent cocktails on one of Newcastle’s not-so-rare-as-you-might-expect sunny evenings. Second was the spectacular views over the city and down to the quayside, which you get from the rooms on the hotel’s top three floors. Rooms which, for the record, are small but perfectly formed.
Motel One only has a 3* rating because it has no restaurant and no spa facilities, but the feeling of the hotel is far more high-end and luxurious than this prosaic system suggests and far more comfortable and classy than many of Newcastle’s 4* hotels. As for the lack of in-house dining, this doesn’t strike me as problematic in the slightest. The hotel, fantastically located just off the beautiful Grey Street, has any number of Newcastle’s excellent restaurants practically on its doorstep. Put it this way, were I visiting Newcastle, this is where I’d want to stay.
NB: I was so impressed by my first visit to Motel One that I took my Mum there just yesterday as it was her birthday and I thought I’d treat her to a cocktail (have I mentioned I liked the cocktails?). I am very happy to report that the staff were, yet again, an absolute delight: friendly, energetic and attentive. It didn’t hurt that they served me a stellar Cosmopolitan that nearly knocked my socks off! Bravo, Motel One, bravo!