Standing majestically in London’s affluent Knightsbridge area, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is hard to miss. The red-brick facade overlooks leafy Hyde Park on one side and is directly opposite Harvey Nichols on the other.
It originally opened in 1889 as a gentlemen’s club, and since then is has been a favorite haunt of the rich and powerful ever since. The hotel underwent a $280m refurbishment last year. However, just a few days before unveiling the shiny new updates, disaster struck as a fire broke out.
We won’t make the cliche of comparing the hotel to a phoenix rising from the ashes, but the hotel is certainly back. The top-notch services begins when the impeccably-dressed doormen escort you in to the gorgeous marble-floored foyer. Ascend the velvet stairs to a grand fireplace (we visited during Chelsea Flower Show when the city blooms with floral displays — lilac wisteria hung from the space).
The concierge desk is to your right, which is another indication of the level of service here: you are shown the concierge before reaching reception, and the doorman informs me that they can help to arrange anything I might need during my visit; tickets to shows, restaurant bookings, or a chauffeur to take me around town.
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal lives up to the hype; the restaurant is a regular entry in Elite Traveler’s Top 100 Restaurants. The whimsical and inventive dishes keep patrons coming back for more. As you enter Dinner, there is a hanging pineapple display against a violet light board — an homage to the famous tipsy cake.
The chef’s table at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
As is Blumenthal’s signature, the menu is inventive and fun and takes diners on journey: the orange pate is shaped like a mandarin and the old-fashioned ice cream maker creates a cloud of dry ice when it is used table side, adding a touch of theatrics to desert.
For a more casual affair, head to Bar Boloud. It’s interior is reminiscent of a 1920s train carriage: think red leather booths and moody lighting. The restaurant is known for its meat dishes — the pork belly starter was a personal favorite (although I didn’t actually order it; I tried/stole my companion’s and had severe food envy that I did not order it for myself).
The spa can be found below ground and spread across two floors. There is a fully-equipped gym and a brand new Pilates/yoga studio. Book in for a bespoke programme designed by award-winning trainer Hollie Grant. If swimming is more your thing, there’s a 55-ft twin lane indoor swimming pool complete with a lap timer.
The 55-ft swimming pool
There are 13 treatment suites, including a couple’s suite with a Rasul water temple. The menu is extensive and covers holistic, tailor-made treatments from all over the world. The thorough pre-treatment consultation includes a questionnaire that helps to decide if you are more ying or yang, based on your answers (questions vary from digestive issues to how you solve a problem).
I had the Oriental Qi treatment, 100 minutes of massage designed to balance and restore the energy of the meridian lines in the body. I have had long treatments before and truth be told I’ve often found myself getting restless and fidgety after an hour but this flew by.
The couples suite with Rasul
The treatment begins with a soothing foot massage and exfoliation, harking back to the traditional Chinese custom of removing a guest’s shoes when they enter your home. I explained about skin complaints and back pain to my therapist, who then suggested some dietary changes that should help (explaining that she is also a trained nutritionist) and wrote them down for me.
Post-treatment, I was lead to the relaxation room and had a pot of tea (there is a bespoke blend of tea for the hotel). It is a soothing place to spend an afternoon and there are leaflets extolling the virtues of a digital detox and, in case you are feeling separation anxiety from your phone, there are coloring books and pencils to help practice mindfulness.
The facilities are separated for the sexes. The women’s changing room has a hydrotherapy pool with sculptures of the female form at the end, a steam room and sauna. I visited on a Saturday morning and had the entire place to myself. The amenities are excellent here too — there’s a Dyson hair dryer and apothecary skincare products, so it’s perfect if you’re heading out after.
Despite the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park’s super central location, the suites are incredibly quiet. There are 13 signature suites in various configurations, but all beautifully appointed. The interiors are by Joyce Wang who also designed the Mandarin’s first and flagship property in Hong Kong.
The Mandarin Oriental Penthouse is the biggest in the house with three bedrooms, two salons (both with a dining table for eight and a comfy sitting area), two kitchens and five terraces. It feels more like a cool, elegant London apartment and has a welcoming residential feel. The views over leafy Hyde Park below are sublime.
Contact email@example.com, +44 (0)20 7235 2000, mandarinoriental.com