Nestled in rural Oxfordshire, off the well travelled A420 sits Soho Houses‘ and Nick Jones’ latest adventure; Mollies Motel and Diner. Unlike its brother and sister members clubs, Mollies is fully open to anyone, and offers affordable luxury for the design conscious traveller.
To some this may not seem like a new concept, but in reality, what other hotel model in Uk replicates this, and even compared to the traditional US Motel, Soho Houses‘ interiors and quality design set them far apart. Finally it’s the motels use of technology that really sets this as a unique offering.
Guests use their smart phone app to book, check in, access the room, pre order food/drink without the need to speak to a real human being, however we would highly recommend you do, as the charismatic staff are quite simply exceptional.
Sited across two black timber farm like buildings, the Diner is road facing with the Motel element and it’s 79 bedrooms positioned to the quieter rear.
Although farm like it it’s materiality and form, the Motel has plenty of modern elements. Large single glass windows offer bright and fresh interiors in stark contrast to the dark exterior. The second floor mansard windows and roof are clad in black aluminium sheet panelling.
The Motel itself has two wings of guestrooms that link to a central public reception area that also doubles up as the general store, where you can buy all your travel essentials from Cowshed products to Harribo sweets.
The interiors are not what you would expect from people’s usual ideas of a typical Motel. They are bright, airy and almost Scandinavian in design mixed with mid century furniture and 50s ornaments.
The materiality is what you would typically find in a traditional 50s US Motel, except done in a completely fresh manner thanks to the genius of Soho House designers. Timber is the predominate finish, whether it’s the stained flooring, or white washed timber soffit boards, the varnished general store counter or distressed communal table. This menagerie of different timbers (strangely) sits well together and gives a real sense of craftsmanship, something that any authentic mid century Motel would have in abundance.
The general store operates just like any other Soho House public space, but you don’t have to be a member to experience this one. In morning it’s got coffee house vibe, evolving into a co-work space during the day and early eve, then finally into a casual bar, where cocktails can be ordered in from the Diner, or craft beer in cans from the general store.
After using your mollie app to get you through to the sleeping wings, you arrive at your bedroom. These simple yet incredibly well detailed rooms tick all your travelling boxes with out very little fuss.
A very comfy King size bed, powerful rain shower, great bathroom set up (especially for couples) fantastic Cowshed wash products, a great arm chair and decent black outs… all the basics essentials done to perfection. All this in an interior that is beautiful in its simplicity.
The minimalist room and clean lines are as I have previously pointed out very Scandinavian, stained timber wall panelling and pale green walls cover most of the interior. Simple yet elegant brass side lights cast a warm ochre which picks out the timber panels patination and frame the super comfy Egyptian cotton king size bed.
The bathroom continues on the bedrooms palettes with floor to ceiling green glazed tiles but with an earthy and weighty dark grey resin floor. Sanitary fittings are polished nickel and are again functional yet understated.
One of my favourite design decisions was for the sink to be located outside the bathroom in the vestibule, so I didn’t impede Kelly from getting ready while I was in the bathroom. The Sliding matching timber panel door revealing the mirror when sliding across to shut the bathroom, another neat space efficient trick.
The Diner follows the same aesthetic style as the Motel, with 1950s accents and materials. Large swathes of materials are used to define key areas of the interior. Bar fronts are clad in the same timber panels as the guest rooms (just stained darker), with white vertical subway tiles wrapping around the service areas. Black and white patterned tiles run throughout the floors, with low Diner booth seating and inbuilt timber serving stations built around the banquets. Opaque glass screens framed in blackened steel provide some separation between eating areas and service.
The eating area space is vast and made ever more airy by the bright white timber soffit that reflects light down back into the restaurant. Minimalist globe lighting hang down into the void from the high ceilings, with fixed lamps between booths providing more intimate lighting in the evening.
The food as you would expect from a Soho House curated Diner is on point with all the classics you’d expect but with real quality local ingredients. The beef is supplied from just up the road in Faringdon, the chicken from a farm in Somerset, the vegetables are local too.
We of course tried both the evening and breakfast menus and we could or quite easily gone back for a few more sittings. You will also see some of the familiar drinks you’d find at a typical house, our favourite being Lady A rose.
So looking back; is this a new concept or just a fresh take on an age old international idea? I’ll let you be the judge, but one thing is certain, you’d be hard pressed to find another offering at this price point that matches on design, quality of room with the luxury of Soho Houses food and beverage. A final thing you don’t get anywhere else is the staff, they are a fundamental part of any House experience and the team at Mollies really hold true to this mantra.