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The Malmaison hotel group has announced that its newest UK hotel will occupy a former prison, being part of the redevelopment of Oxford Castle.

The Grade II listed building is within the walls of the castle - a landmark heritage site built soon after the Norman Conquest in 1071 - and will be converted into an 87-room hotel with bar and brasserie.

Architects for the project are ADP and Sir Jeremy Dixon.

Malmaison managing director, Charles Holmes, said: We believe our guests will appreciate this historic building and its interesting roots. We can assure inmates that balls and chains will be optional!

The redevelopment of the whole Oxford Castle site will include, in addition to the hotel, eight restaurants, 40 apartments and an Oxford Preservation Trust Interpretation Centre.

Oxfordshire County Council has reported that Carluccio's, La Tasca Authentic Spanish Tapas Bar and Restaurants and the Living Room Restaurant and Bar chain have already signed up to the development.

The Oxford Preservation trust will restore and give access to St George's Tower and the Castle Mound and create a Heritage Centre in other historic buildings.

A new public square will also be created within the castle's walls - the trust's Castleyard project - and has received a £1.8m Stage I Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

Project development is being undertaken by The Osborne Group, which is working in conjunction with Oxfordshire County Council, the Oxford Preservation Trust, the South East England Development Agency and English Heritage.

Malmaison already operates six hotels in the UK, with a new site opening in London later this year and Oxford Castle scheduled for 2005. Details: www.malmaison.com

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The Malmaison hotel group has announced that its newest UK hotel will occupy a former prison, being part of the redevelopment of Oxford Castle.
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