There’s a brilliant scene in The Simpsons episode "The Trouble with Trillions," where a noir-ish IRS agent growls at a tax-delinquent Homer, "You won’t be seeing any prison films where you’re going: PRISON!" And visitors to Malmaison Oxford’s Cult Screens celluloid series this summer won’t be seeing any prison films either. The scholarly city’s hippest hotel (opened in 2005) is, in fact, a former house of incarceration, in a wing of the majestic ruins of the 11th Century Norman fortress that is Oxford Castle. A careful collaboration between ADP Architects, Sir Jeremy Dixon Architects, and interior designers Jestico & Whiles managed to maintain the fascinatingly ominous "lock down" atmosphere while, of course, stylistically bringing it up to the luxurious standards of contemporary boutique hotels.
And this being the 21st Century, the series (every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening for six weeks, commencing on June 6th) will be taking place at Malmaison’s sexy, open-air rooftop bar, on a hi-def big screen, with wireless headphones, accompanied by BBQ munchies and an epicure’s selection of cocktails and bubbles. The impeccably-assembled program runs the gamut from camp faves The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Labyrinth, to cult stalwarts Stand By Me and The Big Lebowski, to beloved classics Casablanca and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, to modern hits Argo and Life of Pi. (Sorry boys, no Caged Heat.) The original Italian Job with Michael Caine, actually partly filmed at the castle, will be a particular endemic highlight. The hotel’s eponymous Brasserie will also be whipping up pre-cinema dinner menus tied to each film’s theme; for maximum immersion, pretend it’s "your last meal."
Still, much as we love the intellectual buzz of traversing the hallowed halls of Trinity College, after a weekend visit to Oxford it’s surely back to the grueling business of gallery and bar crawling in East London–for which you can book into chic sister hotel Malmaison London, picturesquely located right on Charterhouse Square…but just a quick nip over to Shoreditch.