Spread your wings in this vibrant city
by Danny Boyle
It is the iconic Antony Gormley sculpture that towers over the
Gateshead skyline, wings outstretched.
But the 66ft Angel of the North took me somewhat by surprise
while on my way to a stay in Newcastle, just across the River
So unassuming was its location, hidden behind trees and a
housing estate, that I actually missed the steel landmark and had
to turn around.
It was worth going back for, though - standing beneath the
Angel was an overwhelming experience.
So who knows what it will feel like to stand beneath the Angel
of the South, which is what the giant white horse planned for north
Kent has been dubbed.
At 164ft, the Ebbsfleet Landmark Project, designed by Turner
prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger, would sit beside the A2 at the
same height as Nelson's column.
But it has a £12 million hurdle to overcome yet, with developers
trying to secure the money to build the horse.
One place without any apparent hurdles is the
Malmaison Newcastle (left) hotel, where I stayed on a trip to the
It is in one of the best location in the popular Quayside, which
is packed with bars and restaurants.
Malmaison has converted a Grade II-listed Co-operative warehouse
into a luxurious city hotel.
My room was well equipped, very spacious and had an amazing view
of the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, the world's only tilting bridge
that opens to allow river traffic to pass.
Fondly nicknamed the Blinking Eye Bridge, it spans the River
Tyne and is lit up after dark in a changing rainbow of colours that
are a pleasure to watch.
The hotel's opulent bar, also overlooking the river, feels like
something out of a Footballers' Wives set, but the leopard-print
cushions and velvet throws work well.
The bar is certainly worth a visit, whether for pre-dinner
drinks or to start a night out in Newcastle, whose vibrant
nightlife is just a few minutes' walk away.
And I can highly recommend the hotel's restaurant, where the
attentive staff are almost as knowledgeable as the food is
Three courses for two people with wine will set you back around
£100. But, if you're on a budget, a special deal gives you two
courses, a bottle of wine and coffee for two people for only
But if all the eating and drinking gets too much, guests can
retreat to the hotel's Asian-inspired spa for a pampering
As I drove home contented after a stay at Malmaison, I made sure
I kept an eye out for the Angel of the North so I wouldn't miss it
a second time.
If the giant Angel of the South is ever built in Kent, I
certainly won't have to!
Double and twin rooms at Malmaison Newcastle start from £160
per night, excluding breakfast.
Special offers include weekends from £105 per night and a
Friday night package where a two-course meal, bottle of wine and a
double room cost just £99.
For more details, phone 0191 2455000 or visit www.malmaison.com.
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