The designer hotel chain has launched a business-focused package aptly called Work & Play, which aims to turn those unavoidable professional events into something that everyone will count down to in eager anticipation. The old Leeds City Tramways Office has been converted into a swanky new business-oriented space, complete with eight meeting rooms and private workstations. A flexible design means it’s ready to take on anything, from entertaining 150 people with a cocktail reception at a big conference or a hosting a low-key private dining event. We were invited to get a feel for the atmosphere at the launch party, where we were treated to live music, speciality cocktails, and a buffet that would even put a smile on your grumpy receptionist’s face. The atmosphere As soon as you pass through Malmaison’s carousel doors, you’re immersed in a sense of modern luxury. The staff are friendly, welcoming, and super smooth. Our coats were graciously swapped for a glass of bubbles as we were led into a classy space where the socializing was already in full swing. Several bars were dotted across the space, serving up delicious made-to-order cocktails. Brockmans gin corner was a real hit, and the gin-and-blackberry ‘Bramble’ seemed to be a popular accessory that many guests were toting. There was live music, with a singer-songwriter theme that fit perfectly with the lively yet laid back vibe. The area is spacious enough for groups to cluster together for a chat without blocking the all-important route to the bar. Chairs and tables were dotted around the edge of the room, for those who wanted to retreat to the fringes a one-to-one conversation. The food As someone who loves a buffet, I find it hard to believe that not everyone’s as big a fan as I am. However, I know that there are sceptics out there – and so I’m talking to you when I say that with Malmaison there’s no need to worry. In a buffet environment, it’s easy to mix odd things together which can leave you feeling a bit weird about the meal you’ve just eaten. However, despite the fact that Malmaison’s spread ranged from mini-burgers to seafood skewers, there was a sense of cohesion across all dishes. I indulged in a range of different things, including halloumi, salmon, and chips, but it all seemed to go together effortlessly. And, unlike many all-you-can-eat joints, the staff were constantly bringing out fresh food and removing anything that might have become even slightly cold. Which meant I couldn’t resist going back for seconds. As someone who doesn’t eat meat (besides seafood), I was a bit worried I’d have limited choice, but everyone was truly catered for. Some dishes gave classic comfort a gourmet twist, such as the spicy miniature hotdogs and artsy mac n’ (strong) cheese. Individual servings of creamy chicken korma were complemented with lentils and roast sweet potato. On the more traditional side, rich pate and sourdough paired perfectly with roast vegetables and mozzarella. The fish pie was one of my highlights, with melt-in-your-mouth mashed potato and fresh, flavourful seafood. The chips were crispy, golden, and dangerously addictive (I admit I probably took more than my fair share). Beetroot wedges and salmon was a deliciously colourful and rich dish, which tasted great with the roast zucchini and halloumi skewers. And then there was the towering table of desserts – dark chocolate mousse with orange zest and honeycomb chunks, soft and seductive strawberry cheesecake, syrup-drenched fruit skewers, and – the highlight – sticky toffee pudding with cream cheese frosting. I won’t let on to just how many desserts I sampled, but I can confidently recommend them all… The verdict If you’re looking to impress your employer, your clients, or even just your grumpy receptionist, consider Malmaison for your next work-based event. It’s classy without being stiff, luxurious without being extravagant, and comfortable without being cheesy. The flexible nature of Work & Play means you have the ability to transform Malmaison’s space into exactly what suits your needs. And with the promise of great entertainment, tasty drinks, and delicious food, you might even find yourself – dare I say – looking forward to going to work.