FFG Travels: Mollie's Motel & Diner

posted on: Friday, 1 March 2019

Since visiting Mollie's Motel & Diner last month, I've been asked a lot about my experience. A lot. People all want to know about the latest brainchild from Soho House's Nick Jones. A motel and diner in the middle of Oxfordshire, with rooms starting at £50 a night, a diner that looks like it was made for some serious roadside memories and interiors that have Soho House written all over them... what's not to be curious about? Even the launch party was a night like nothing I'd ever seen. The whole experience of visiting, dining and sleeping at Mollie's was actually a little surreal. 

Before arriving at Mollie's, there wasn't a lot of information on what we were about to encounter. I just know, after a decade of playing this game, that you don't turn down an opportunity to work with this group of people. So I packed a small bag, awaited the BMW sedan that was being sent to collect us for our overnight adventure and kept an open mind about what I was about to see. In all honesty, I was not expecting what we were confronted with upon arrival. Now, I had heard this was a budget friendly establishment with a 1950's Americana vibe. Fair enough. But, I wasn't sure how that was going to work. £50 per night for a room looks like what exactly? I know what it looks like with the rivals. It's not pretty. Any one of the "cheap hotels" in the UK gives you exactly what you pay for - a place to rest your head with zero style and absolutely no frills. I was truly hoping we were in for something different.

As we drove into the motel's parking lot, that has a clear view of the BP gas station next door, I did wonder what I'd signed up for. The outside of the motel and diner looked sophisticated yet rustic, but totally out of place next door to a gas station. How was this going to work? Walking into reception, however, I knew immediately that this was a step above the competition. Hell, it's a whole staircase above the competition. Roadside stays just got a big step up in the style department. The lobby feels more like a Californian living room from the 1950s than a lobby for a motel in Oxfordshire. We're offered tea or coffee as we await our rooms, that we could have actually checked into ahead of time and used our phones as keys to access. Yup, this is modern technology at its finest. We wait less than five minutes and are led down the hall to one of 74 rooms on the property. You can still smell the fresh paint and there's a maintenance man fixing lights in the hall. You don't get much more "brand new." 

Opening the door to my room, the words "no frills" pop straight back into my head. In fact, I say them out loud. If you've ever stayed in a Soho House property, you'll be used to some serious pampering on the "frills" side of things. Full size bottles for amenities, water, full mini bar and more always await you at a Soho House property. It's all part of the charm. And I can't help but draw comparisons, as we are talking about a Nick Jones concept here. At Mollie's, you get minimal amenities, there wasn't a hairdryer to be found anywhere and the only closet in sight isn't a closet at all, more like a cubbyhole. But, I tell you now, it works. The room is minimal but cozy. It's a place to lay your head after a long day of driving and, hopefully, after a fun meal at Mollie's Diner. The most elegant detail in the whole room is the pink velvet chair in the corner, and this does in fact make the whole room seem so much more impressive. This is like staying in a posh friend's guest room. That's the best way I know how to describe it. 

I now knew where I was sleeping later that night. I knew it had a nice bathroom, a suitable sink, with plenty of counter space for all the makeup that would be needed to cover the inevitable hangover from the night's festivities, and a walk in shower with good water pressure. It was time to discover Mollie's Diner. 

It should be mentioned that I could have just had the BMW go through the drive-thru to get an accurate experience of how Mollie's is intended to be used. As it's straight off the A-420, this stretch of road sees thousands of cars pass by daily. And if any of them are hungry for burgers, chicken, coffee, breakfast treats or more, Mollie's is going to be an absolute godsend. The drive-thru delivers, with minimal wait time, for hungry travellers. But, I do believe you'll prefer stepping inside Mollie's Diner, to get the full experience. Again modelled on a 1950's Americana vibe, the diner was my favourite part of this whole getaway. For the opening night, the Diner was home to a celebration, with guests from all walks of life - musicians, tv stars, celebrity hosts, radio DJs and more. No need to drop names, but let's just say that some of London's finest were out to honour the launch. I arrived early, with two friends in tow, to claim a booth of our own for the night. Over the course of the next two hours, we tried the entire menu. This is no joke. We had a bite of everything. From Mac & Cheese to mouthwatering burgers, and an apple pie finish, I had to unbutton my trousers half way through the delivery of food. It was intense, but oh so delicious. 

After a few perfectly mixed margaritas and more food than I ever thought was possible to eat, I retired for the evening to my room. It was snowing outside as I closed the curtains and tucked myself into the crisp white sheets. A 7am alarm had me up and about to pack for the return to London. There was just enough time to pop back over to Mollie's Diner for breakfast before leaving. Coffee with waffles and large rations of bacon acted as my fuel to see me through the quick journey home, and just like that is was all over. But, Mollie's remains. However, it won't be the only Mollie's in the country for long. New locations are popping up in Bristol and Manchester later this year. Could this be the future of UK roadside stops? Let's wait and see, but it's looking likely. 

Mollie's definitely gets my vote for a great roadside stop. For a luxury getaway, look elsewhere. But, then again that's the whole point. This isn't a luxe getaway, it's a chic alternative to the bland chains we're used to. It was time for a revolution and Nick Jones has delivered, plain and simple. 

For more information: https://www.molliesmotel.com/

FFG was a guest of Mollie's for one night.