Mollies Diner, Oxfordshire
The Soho House brand has exploded around the globe in recent years. What started as the brainchild of Nick Jones in Greek St back in the 90s, now spans many cities in the form of private members clubs, or ‘Houses’, a farmhouse retreat, restaurants including Cecconi’s, Café Monaco, Dirty Burger and Chicken Shop, Cowshed Spas, and more recently, their own interior retail offering with Soho Home.
Their latest venture Mollie’s Motel Diner launched at the beginning of the year, and we have finally managed to take a small road trip out of London to explore this 1950s American dream - off the AA420 in Oxfordshire.
The location is perhaps the first thing to note. An old roadside eatery that Jones would pass regularly on his journey home, was to become the first Mollie’s - a new concept for the UK that we would normally associate with sunny American road trip dreams as opposed to an English arterial road on a rainy November night. The idea: an accessible, affordable place to drive through (thru), eat in and sleep over, no matter the demographic.
Designed by the Soho House team, the site includes a classic American diner with drive-through, the motel itself across the carpark, with a stocked up general store-cum-reception. Check-in is encouraged through the Mollie’s app, and can also act as your room key to one of the 79 rooms on offer - double rooms, bunk rooms, and interconnecting family rooms are available. The bedrooms have a stripped back Scandi style, with blonde timber strip cladding to the bedheads, light sage coloured walls and opal globe bedside wall lights. Cowshed products are stocked in the bathroom to elevate the offer, while complimentary coffee and tea refreshments are available from the 24hr General Store in the communal area for guest use. This space is classic Soho House with beautifully curated furniture and tasteful layered styling in a mid-century living room setting.
After battling the traffic to get out of London, we arrived after a couple of hours, more than ready for food. Essentially a combination of Chicken Shop and Dirty Burger with additional American inspired dishes, the menu is a mouth-watering (well deserved) treat. Milkshakes, burgers, dogs and waffles, mac and cheese and coleslaw sides. Salad anyone? Not tonight, thank you. We threw in a couple of cocktails for good measure at the end.
The space has teal tuck-n-roll booth upholstery, against dark timber stained joinery, black and white tiled flooring and Formica tables with metal trims. Mid-century inspired light fittings and leather barstools sit in front of a full open kitchen, with its reeded-glass gantry. DJs play on a Saturday night for a great atmosphere as you dine. And the best bit, bed calls only a few metres away across the parking lot… oh wait we’re not in America, we forgot.
Nick Jones has created a fun, stylish concept that feels obtainable - a double room is £90. It will be interesting to see how the plan to expand the concept to further roadside locations and to city centres will transpire. After a very comfortable night’s sleep, and civilised check-out time of 12noon, there’s time to go back across to the diner for breakfast. Pancakes, bacon and maple syrup before we hit the road back to London.