Mollie's Motel: a review
A couple of weekends ago, I headed up to Oxfordshire to visit my friend Samah. Besides exploring Oxford, our plans also included one night’s stay at Mollie’s Motel, the latest opening by the Soho House group, and their first ever American drive-through diner and motel concept.
After spending the morning in Oxford (my Oxford city guide will be up next week!), we set off for Mollie’s in the afternoon, which is about half an hour’s drive from the city centre. The property is quite literally located next to the motorway, besides a petrol station. Upon approach, you’ll see the diner first, with a separate entrance for those simply wanting a ‘drive-through’ meal: just behind the diner is the motel. Judging by first appearances, there’s not much to see here except some flashing neon lights…however, you’ll soon discover that Mollie’s is far more than your typical Holiday Inn.
Step inside, and you’ll find a stripped back space that gives a nod to the usual Soho House interiors: plush velvet chairs, and funky lampshades abound. The check-in desk also functions as a snack bar, selling a range of upmarket goodies, and Cowshed products. There’s also unlimited tea and coffee that you can help yourself to.
Upstairs to the bedrooms: rooms are minimal and don’t feature any unnecessary frills. You’ll find simple beds, sleek lighting fixtures, and bathrooms with Cowshed products. There are Samsung flat screens in every room, and more than enough space for two: for only £50 a night, you really are getting good value for money.
Down to Mollie’s Diner for dinner, where they have truly hit the nail on the head in attempting to replicate the classic American diner experience. The place is buzzing and friendly staff swan around in matching uniforms. You can’t book a table unless you’re staying overnight at the motel, so expect to queue on the weekends, or get there early. The all-day menu is pretty much a mash-up of Soho House-owned restaurants Dirty Burger and Chicken Shop, with the most indulgent dish being a meal deal tray of rotisserie chicken, crinkle cut fries, and beer or soda for £12.
Prices are generally more affordable, and lack the usual 12.5% service charge that you’ll find at other Soho House properties, although don’t expect huge American-sized portions here. For breakfast on Sunday morning, my full veggie English cost £7 and although it wasn’t the heartiest of portions, had all the usual components I would have expected: toast, eggs, mushrooms, hash brown etc. It wasn’t particularly flavourful, but for only £7, I wasn’t at all disappointed by it.
After breakfast on Sunday morning, it was time to check out. Staying at Mollie’s was certainly a novelty, given that it’s the UK’s first (and currently, only) motel. However, unless looking for a budget option to stay near Oxford, I’m not sure I’d need to return again - the property doesn’t have the same appeal as Soho House’s luxury hotels, and Samah and I didn’t get much sleep on Saturday night (the mattresses are quite uncomfortable!).
In true Soho House fashion however, I’m sure that Mollie’s will soon expand across the entirety of England, purely based on the fantastic reception they’ve already received at their Oxfordshire outpost. For those that want the Soho House experience without the hefty price tag, Mollie’s certainly provides a chicer, cooler experience than your average budget hotel, and the faux-American diner/motel experience adds an extra layer of novelty.