SWANKY IS how it looks, and how you feel as you swish through the (automatically twirling) doors of Malmaison in Leeds. Some major reconstructive surgery has taken place here on what was an old warehouse, and the result is a trim and glamorous 100-room hotel, the fifth of that name.
Opened in July this year, the rooms are simple but infinitely stylish in an understated, plum-toned kind of way. Despite appearances, it isn't a snooty place, and the best reason to stay here is that, sleeping arrangements aside, this is somewhere you'll be happy to stay for the whole evening. Forget having to go looking for fun elsewhere, the hotel bar and brasserie have a real life about them.
But, if you do want to get out into town, it's within easy walking distance of the railway station and all kinds of cafes, galleries and shops - including the Harvey Nicks of the north.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Malmaison Leeds is at Sovereign Quay, Leeds, LS1 1DQ (tel: 0113-398 1000; fax: 0113 398 1002; email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
The beautifully lit Brasserie serves up French/ Mediterranean-influenced food to what seemed to be a regular clientele. At lunchtime there's a prix fixe menu for pounds 9 but, if you'd rather go your own way, the a la carte menu includes starters (such as warm mackerel and potato salad or eggs benedict) from pounds 4.25, mains (sauteed calves' liver with pancetta and creamed potatoes or grilled hake with trompette mushrooms) from pounds 7.50, and desserts (marmalade rice pudding or apple crumble with cinnamon ice-cream) from pounds 4.95. And, if you've overdone it at the restaurant, you can always nip up to the small but perfectly fitted-out gym, and work it all off again.
Time to international airport: Leeds/ Bradford airport is a 15-minute cab ride away but, for a much wider range of flights, hop on a train (five minutes walk away) across the Pennines, direct to Manchester airport.
ARE YOU LYING COMFORTABLY?
Rooms are very contemporary and decorated in soothing shades of soft taupe and deep purple. All are en-suite, with smart, tiled bathrooms that have separate showers and baths. The details are impressive, and start to emerge as you acquaint yourself with your room: the usual "do not disturb" sign is substituted by neat little tickets to string up saying "please leave me alone" or "please tidy up"; open the mini-bar and you'll find wines, whisky and sodas, and jelly beans rather than half-bottles of plonk and a packet of peanuts; switch the dinky kettle on and, if you can stomach it, you can treat yourself to a peppermint tea rather than a stale sachet of Nescafe.
Freebies: the specially designed Malmaison/ Arran Aromatics toiletries are minimal in number (shampoo and body wash only) but they look so snazzy you'll want to stash these away to take home - which a little note beside them invites you to do.
Keeping in touch: a phone or two, data ports, nifty mini-CD players (choose your own selection of CDs at reception or bring your favourites with you) and satellite TVs come with the room. For anything more complicated, you'll have to put in a request at reception.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Double rooms and twins cost pounds 99, suites pounds 140, no matter how many people are in them.Reuse content