Yina Goes

Singapore Top Travel, Beauty, Food, Lifestyle Blog

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Europe/UK Sep'17: Malmaison Oxford - A Luxurious Prison Stay

Serving your jail time would be a breeze if every prison were like Malmaison Oxford - This boutique hotel in the heart of Oxford used to be a Victorian jail and was in use as a prison all the way until 1996 when it closed down and the building got sold off to the Malmaison hotel chain.

If you're planning a short getway from London to visit the famous town of Oxford (Oxford University!), I highly highly recommend staying in the trendy cell rooms of Malmaison Oxford, it was an experience like no other! 

Getting to Oxford

Malmaison_Oxford-1The train journey from London Paddington and Oxford took just 1 hour 10 minutes, and in no time at all, we found ourselves at Oxford train station, ready to begin our short Oxford exploration!

From London to Oxford - Price per ticket: 25 pounds

Malmaison Oxford is just a short distance away from the station - We had a driver booked to bring us to the hotel, but it is most definitely within walking distance, especially in cool weather, as it was in September.

Our first look at Malmaison Oxford - Love the stone structures and crumbling old facade, a stark contrast to the hip and luxurious interiors the former prison has been refurbished with.

Inside Malmaison Oxford  Old architectural elements like the original prison cells and ceilings have been preseved to date.

As a converted prison-into-boutique-hotel, I absolutely love how the cell structures, windows and doors of Malmaison Oxford have been kept intact but given the lux make-over into the coolest prison-themed hotel you might ever stay in!

We went on a tour of the building grounds, and I was intrigued to view the one and only prison cell inside Malmaison Oxford that has been preserved in its original form.

Three prisoners to one tiny prison cell, must have been rather miserable back in those days. I wonder what those inmates would think of Malmaison Oxford's new and improved rooms?

Gorgeous communal areas with the original prison stairs and landings that have been kept.

The standard rooms have been converted from three adjoining cells, each bedroom is made up of two cells while the bathroom takes up one cell - Good thing plumbing has been upgraded from its prison days to a very luxurious and posh bathroom with standing tub!

Love the attention to details, like the prison-themed carpet motifs!

The light and airy converted cell-to-bathroom definitely didn't look the least bit like it belonged in a prison.

Original prison cell doors that have been preserved.


It's easier to imagine Malmaison Oxford as a prison when wandering down its dimly lit corridors and stairwells that have been left in a semi-dilapidated looking state that I personally found very charming and full of character.


We were fortunate enough to stay in one of Malmaison Oxford's Duplex Suites, this split-level room was super posh and luxurious, with a small balcony overlooking castle grounds and a superbly comfortable bed as well as huge bathroom with rain shower!


A pretty fabulous selection for the mini-bar, too!

I absolutely loved the huge standing tub that came with generous-sized amenities with tongue-in-cheek names, check them out below!

"Better Shower Gel Than You Have At Home" and "The Best Shampoo You Will Ever Steal", love the quirky sense of humour!

Oh, and no better welcome than a pair of edible chocolate handcuffs.. Completely in theme and actually rather delicious too!

We took a walk and explored around the grounds before heading down to Chez Mal Brasserie for dinner!

We had a hearty dinner at Chez Mal Brasserie, their menu offers an impressive range of dishes that were delicious and decadent with the freshest seasonal ingredients. You can also hang around before/after dinner for drinks at Malbar, and just soak in the great ambience!

You can also have breakfast at the brasserie in the morning, and we enjoyed a delicious breakfast! Apart from ordering ala carte off the breakfast menu, you can also choose from a huge selection of pastries, yoghurts, fruits, freshly-squeezed juices, tea and coffee, and so much more that we completely stuffed ourselves to the brim!



Breakfast is most definitely one of my favourite meals of the day. Look how much food we overloaded our table with.

Eggs benedict, simple and yet so delicious!

Craving for something quintessentially British? Go for the smoked kipper that was surprisingly tasty and flavoursome. We enjoyed it so much we even ordered ourselves a second serving!

Don't forget to explore the grounds as well as the neighbouring Oxford Castle where you can climb the Norman Castle Mound and check out the panoramic views from St George's Tower!

(PS. Sign up for one of Oxford Castle's Ghost Hunt tours for a spooktacular evening during your stay too, if you're not afraid to be spooked out!)


Staying at Malmaison Oxford was truly a one-of-a-kind experience, and if you love a hotel stay that's memorable, different and unique, you've got to book yourself into Malmaison Oxford! After all, how many people get to do jail time without actually being jailed? Heh.

About Malmaison Oxford

Oxford Castle, 3 New Rd, Oxford OX1 1AY, UK
Phone: +44 1865 689944

Malmaison Oxford's website here

Malmaison Oxford is just one of many gorgeous properties managed by Frasers Hospitality. Thank you, Frasers Hospitality for putting me up! I'll be sharing on more properties across UK/Europe, so stay tuned :)

Europe/UK Sep'17


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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Tioman: Open Water Diving with Gill Divers! (Part 2)

Hello yall!

I'm here to share about my weekend in Tioman when I got certified for my SSI Open Water Diver course! Boy, was it a tiring weekend. All went good though and I am now officially certified as a SSI Open Water Diver!

It was a very short weekend trip - We left Singapore via coach on Friday night, caught the boat from Mersing Jetty, arrived at Tioman around 3am and woke up at 8am to have breakfast and depart for the first dive.

We arrived for 6pm assembly on Friday evening at the dive shop at York Hill! These are the bags containing our dive gear - buoyancy suit, regulators, fins and wetsuit! You'll need to handle your own dive gear and they get real heavy especially by the end of the trip when they're all wet and waterlogged. Not fun, but noone ever said that diving was a glamorous hobby.

The coach ride was quite a nightmare honestly. Heavy traffic all along the way from Singapore through immigrations and all the way to Mersing. Expect a lot of jam braking and sudden acceleration because the driver was winding through and cutting lanes whenever he could.

We took a pit stop along the way to Mersing Jetty for dinner and I had some fish soup. Dinner is a must cos it would be 3am by the time we reached the resort and I'm sure everyone would be too tired to do anything else but go straight to bed!

We finally arrived at Mersing Harbour Center safely and got on the boat that would take us all the way to Tioman Island! It was a pretty rough ride, I would say. Most of us tried to sleep a little on the boat but it wasn't the most comfortable. Also, motion sickness pills highly recommended if you're prone to sea sickness.

When we arrived at the island, it was pitch dark with not a soul in sight. Went straight to our resort to crash for the night!

Inside our room for the weekend! The word "resort" is a bit of a stretch because Tioman is no luxury holiday island, so don't expect any four star accommodation - we were bunking in four to a room in a very basic, no-frills setting with two double beds. Apparently though, you can get better accomodation if you top up extra for the best resort on the island: Berjaya Tioman Resort.

For the basic accommodation package though, this is as good as it gets, two beds for four pax and one bathroom. No toiletries provided so please come prepared!

Obviously we were too tired to care much - None of us even took a shower and all of us went straight to sleep, as seeing how we only had five hours or so to rest up for the next day. I apparently slept so soundly that the morning prayers at 5am didn't even wake me up.

A short five hours later, we had to drag ourselves reluctantly out of bed to get breakfast and leave for our dives!

Sharing my oral sun protection - Heliocare Ultra. I am super anal about sun protection so I always take oral sunblock capsules and on top of that I still apply topical sunblock on the exposed areas of my body!

My advice is to go easy on the breakfast - Just have some food to fill up your tummy but don't overeat, because you might end up feeling sick on the sea or feel weird in the water because of all the weird gases expanding and compressing in your stomach lol.

The nasi lemak and beehoon soup were surprisingly yummy though! So I did overeat which serves me right because I ended up puking later.

These cute felines were all around the island!

Off to the jetty to get on our boat!

Usually, Tioman is a lot less crowded in November due to the start of the monsoon season, so there were only a few other dive groups apart from ours. IMO a good thing to have less people around but then again it also means poorer dive conditions and visibility underwater, so it's a trade off.

At least the sun didn't come bearing down so strongly on us, which means I didn't get too tanned!

We had rather cloudy weather with choppy waters, so I got really seasick on the first day and ended up puking into the sea. Urrrghhhh.

Thank goodness I felt much better from the third dive onwards and was able to enjoy myself so much more!

These compressed air tanks (bane of my life, it's so heavy oh my god) and buoyancy control suits - Suiting on these equipment and my fins are my most unfavourite part of diving.

The first time I jumped into the sea was quite a scary moment, but once I got over the initial wave of mild panic, everything felt a lot more comfortable, even when we had to remove our masks underwater and put them back on and clear them.

I also swallowed a fair share of sea water like the beginner that I am.

We did four dives on the first day, and a fifth dive on the second day - That's a total of 5 dives over the weekend.

During the dives, we were guided through the basic skills assessment we were taught in the pool session, like mask clearing, alternate air source (sharing a regulator with your buddy), and how to recognise and use hand signals underwater - All these are essential skills in diving so it's important to feel comfortable with the skills and techniques used to prevent any potentially life-threatening situations underwater.

By the end of a few dives, I was feeling so much more confident in the water! Most importantly, do not panick underwater and stay calm no matter what. Your instructor and dive master are there to take care of you and guide you.

The lovely Renggis Island which is a popular dive spot for spotting black tipped sharks - We didn't get to see any sharks, but saw a huge turtle which totally made my day!!!!

I bought this rashguard swimwear set from Fiji more than a year ago and I'm glad I got to put it to good use while diving in Tioman!!!

Not sure about other dive companies but Gill Divers only provide a 3mm "shortie" aka a short sleeved wetsuit during our Open Waters course, and I wanted to avoid that horrid half sleeve/half thigh tan so I wore my own long sleeved rash guard AND a pair of long tights, which was probably my best purchase for this trip.

After completing four dives on Day 1. Whoop whoop!

One of my most dreaded moments is climbing up that ladder with what feels like ten tonnes of gear on me.

The diving itself was actually very enjoyable, especially when we swam right above and through the corals with all those tiny little fishes darting about around us, and even spotted stingrays, turtles and huge parrot fish and bat fish!

What I didn't enjoy was when I got seasick due to the choppy sea conditions and how difficult it was to equalise my ears on the first few tries.

Tioman Island has got a grand total of ONE convenience store - It's practically the only form of civilisation on the island and this place was a godsend for biscuits (to bring on board for snacking in between dives) and cold drinks after a long day of dives.

Apart from the convenience store, you musttttt have prata at this prata shop!!!

Damn solid prata bomb with condensed milk and sugar. It was SO good!

We retired around 10pm on Day 1 to wake up at 5.30am on Day 2 for one last dive before we had to head back to Singapore.

Can't believe I actually woke up at 5.30am just to dive.

This is the view as we were going towards Renggis Island again for our last dive - It was so early that the moon was still out in its full glory!

It rained twice that morning so visibility wasn't so good, unfortunately.

The multiple dive attempts really made me more confident and sure in the water, although I had a lot of trouble with trying to stay in the water because I'm SO NATURALLY BUOYANT I KEPT FLOATING UP TOWARDS THE TOP OF THE WATER. Whenever I took a deeper breath than usual, I started feeling myself drifting upwards hahahahahaha #fail

It was very enjoyable overall and I hope my future dives will be even better with more underwater discoveries! That moment when we chanced upon that giant sea turtle felt so magical.

Gonna share some of the images taken by my dive instructor from Gill Divers, Ephraim!

We surfaced from our last dive on Saturday to come up to a beautiful double rainbow after the rain ended. What a perfect end to our day!

Saw so many of these clownfish darting about amongst the anemone underwater. The tiniest one I saw was no bigger than the nail on my little finger, can you imagine? How adorable!

Always been partial to clownfish thanks to Finding Nemo. Hahahahaha. They are a pretty common sight but seeing them still brings a thrill to me.

Possibly one of my most exciting moments on Dive 3 was running into a lone blue spotted stingray!!!

It was camouflaging very well on the seabed as the visibility was quite poor that day. I spotted it swimming in front of Eph and gestured at Eph to take notice of the ray so that he could photograph it. This shot turned out really good!!!

That’s me underwater looking very happy, indeed I was but what you don’t see is my constant struggle to NOT stay afloat hahahaha it was like *takes in deep breath*..... *slowly starts floating upwards like a helium balloon*

Eph had to resort to tugging me downwards by my ankle whenever I inadvertently started drifting back up to the surface. Yikes.

A nudibranch! Or sea slug hehe. These are small little molluscs and come in a huge variety of colours and patterns, super cute!!

The one we saw was black with white spiky thorns all over.


We’ve been wanting to learn something together and this is what we decided on: Diving! Having someone by your side who’s willing to go on unknown adventures with you must be one of the best things in life. Our first underwater expedition and hopefully more to come!

I'm looking forward to getting my advanced open water certification soon, so that I'm able to explore more dive sites. Absolutely can't wait! :)


Read about my diving adventures!
Open Water Diving with Gill Divers! (Part 1)
Tioman: Open Water Diving with Gill Divers! (Part 2)

I got certified with Gill Divers - Gill Divers website here.

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