Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Is The Only Place You Should Stay In London. Here's Why...
If chain hotels – even luxurious ones – are guilty of missing one thing, it’s emotion: a sense that this, this building, is something more than an assemblage of reception and elevators and three room categories and amenity kits and continental breakfast. The few that can rise above the fold are those that take what can be a stale old routine, and transform it into something of a performative dance.
For the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, emotion became unavoidable, after a fire put a hold on a $130 million renovation in 2018. Of course, when you have a 117-year-old history, resilience becomes part of the M.O. This has, for over a century, been the hotel of choice for heads of state, actors, and, on a few occasions, royalty. (Sir Winston Churchill allegedly once offered a staffer a cigar to deliver his breakfast early.) It just so happens that the hotel hasn’t ever looked better.
Here the rooms – all of them – go beyond the typical realms of luxury: there are heated bathroom floors that will relegate the impending London winter to an afterthought. There are smart lights and GHD hair straighteners, mid-century mod furniture and, depending where you’re situated, sweeping views of the London skylines or Hyde Park. Designer Joyce Wang has given the rooms a facelift that toe the line between timeless and contemporary, all while paying due respect to the hotel’s rich history. At just 12 storeys, the hotel is neat and chic – perfectly situated to Harrods, Mayfair, the West End and the V&A.
What takes a hotel from good to great is what happens when you’re not deservedly lounging in your room. The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park excels at this, a million times over. Like say, the oversized Mary McCartney photographs that linger in the hallways while you’re waiting for the elevator, or the way the Household Cavalry horses clop past during your breakfast.
New York designer Adam Tihany has given a little refreshment to the hotel’s two-Michelin-starred Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, which, while stupidly fantastic, is far from your only dining choice – Bar Boulud is a brilliant substitute for hopping on the Eurostar to Paris. But you’d be remiss to not try Blumenthal’s patented mandarin-orange chicken-liver parfait, if you haven’t yet.
Tihany has also overhauled the Mandarin’s spa. There’s a mighty 17-metre pool that will make you question the laws of space and architecture. There’s a room dubbed a “water temple” – a space that’s steam-heavy and designed around skin treatments. But our eyes (and calendars) were drawn to the massage treatments, which totally epitomise that classic mantra of “surprise and delight”. These are no ordinary treatments. Take, for instance, the Inner Strength programme: it’s a one hour, 50 minute massage that eases emotional anxiety and stress. GQ opted for the Digital Wellness Escape, something tailored for those who have frequent use of electronic devices (read: all of us). This treatment focusses on the head, the eyes, the neck and shoulders, and, most satisfyingly, the hands – which, let’s face it, are beginning to feel like claws in this always-on smartphone era.
The treatment – and the hotel – left us in a transcendent state: zero tension left in our bodies, with all that lay ahead being a cab ride to Heathrow. Is there a better way for a trip to London to end?