It is rare to find moments of perfect tranquillity in this increasingly tense world, but the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, offers a treasure trove of them.
Yes, a stay at this stunning luxury hotel with its amazing suites, half with a ‘country’ view looking on to the Royal parkland, the other ‘town’ side, facing bustling Knightsbridge, is an extravagance, but it’s hard to put a price on finding your ‘happy place’ in the middle of London, during a global pandemic.
The iconic Mandarin Oriental was one of the first London five-star hotels to reopen, on July 17, following lockdown, and since then new guest services and ‘staycation’ offerings have been introduced. Fitness facilities and the pool are open, with guests asked to book ‘slots’ to control numbers and ensure social distancing. The spa reopened on August 1 with a carefully curated menu of indulgent body treatments aimed at relieving stress and boosting wellness.
The iconic Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park was one of the first London five-star hotels to reopen, on July 17, following lockdown
MailOnline Travel’s Ian Walker checked in with his wife to the Hyde Park property and remarks that the legendary service is still there, despite coronavirus tweaks
The legendary service is as top-notch as ever, as I discovered on a recent visit with my wife to see how the hotel is coping in the hospitality fight-back against Covid-19. Conscientious staff manage that difficult balancing act of avoiding ‘hovering’, but always being available when needed, even succeeding in conveying efficiency, confidence and good humour through the confines of a mask. Discreet containers of hand sanitiser are available in all the public spaces where guests are also required to wear masks.
Surprisingly these added precautions, fast becoming de rigueur in the hospitality industry, do not detract from all this hotel has to offer, but rather concentrate the mind on enjoying the freedoms and facilities still available.
For the first time, the lovely garden terrace looking on to the park is open for al fresco lunch and drinks until 6pm and the celebrated two-Michelin-starred Dinner by Heston Blumenthal restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. With its ‘theatre’ kitchen situated behind floor-to-ceiling glass walls and views over Hyde Park, once the favoured hunting grounds of Henry VIII, the setting is full of human energy on one side and the natural movement of flora and fauna on the other.
We arrived in time for dinner, an experience as much as a meal, with a menu inspired by history and perfected by modern culinary techniques.
Heston’s acclaimed Meat Fruit does not disappoint – a feast for the eyes in the form of a mandarin orange complete with stalk and leaves, which is actually an intensely flavoured orange jelly, coating a chicken liver parfait, the tang of the fruit creating a perfect marriage with the creamy richness of the parfait.
The celebrated two-Michelin-starred Dinner by Heston Blumenthal restaurant, pictured, is open for lunch and dinner
Smoked Pickled Mussels may not have been as visually striking but was also delicious.
A fillet of Hereford beef, dry-aged for a minimum of 21 days with mushroom ketchup and triple cooked chips is a gloriously simple dish which belied the skill required to ensure it tasted as good as it did.
Rows of spit-roasting pineapples were on show in the kitchen, destined to adorn Heston’s much-admired Tipsy Cake dessert, but my wife assured me the Blackberry Tart, a saffron cake with jersey cream and pickled blackberries, deserved just as much attention and I can attest to the success of the Brown Bread Ice Cream with salted butter caramel.
The hotel underwent a huge renovation, completed last year, and fabulous Joyce Wang interiors have given the 181 guest rooms, including 40 suites, a soft and light feel.
Our Hyde Park Suite was no exception.
The hotel underwent a huge renovation, completed last year, and fabulous Joyce Wang interiors have given the 181 guest rooms, including 40 suites, a soft and light feel, writes Ian. Pictured is his Hyde Park Suite
Ian’s Hyde Park Suite was resplendent with velvet sofas and Art Deco-inspired cabinets – and had views to Hyde Park
Dove grey carpets and rugs were punctuated with jewel-coloured elegant velvet sofas, while gold and blonde wood console tables and Art Deco-inspired cabinets brimmed with glassware, sweet treats, beverages and a Nespresso coffee maker.
‘Country’-facing suites come at a premium, but the superb views of the park’s majestic plane trees and the splendid daily spectacle at around 10.30am of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment making their stately way from Hyde Park Barracks to Buckingham Palace right under your balcony are worth it.
All suites are adorned with large-screen TV’s, specially curated books, flowers, fresh fruit, yoga mat, his and hers Miller and Harris toiletries, Jo Hansford hair products, GHD hair straighteners and luxury marble bathrooms with electric toilet seats that warm and lift at the touch of a button.
No trip to the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park would be complete without a visit to the spa, Ian declares
When Ian and his wife visited the spa, they had a ‘flawlessly performed’ couple’s massage
The spa at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park even features a shower room with comfy armchairs
Describing the service, Ian says that ‘conscientious staff manage that difficult balancing act of avoiding “hovering”, but always being available when needed, even succeeding in conveying efficiency, confidence and good humour through the confines of a mask’
Following a beautifully executed full English breakfast, a sunny September morning lured us into the park.
It would be so easy to lose a day here, the hotel offers picnic hampers and carriage rides are easily arranged, but a stroll around the Serpentine Lake and the Rose Garden was a simple pleasure we both enjoyed.
It just left time for our appointment at the newly reopened spa, without which no visit to the Mandarin Oriental would be complete.
A couple’s massage was flawlessly performed by therapists Vasilica and Yaninna. This was not a gentle romantic event, but a thorough and professional, deep tissue body treatment. Guests can specify the pressure they want, but we left it to the experts who succeeded in unknotting months of ‘lockdown’ tension.
Found – my Happy Place.
Ian was hosted by Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, where rates start from £670 per room per night. The staycation offer from £740 per night includes:
• Full daily breakfast, served in the privacy of your room or in our restaurant, for one or two people.
• An early check-in and a late check-out to enable you to make the most out of your stay.
• Complimentary parking for one vehicle.
• A bottle of Moët & Chandon Champagne.
• A credit of £100 per stay when booking a room and £250 when booking a suite.
• Enjoy a luxury afternoon tea picnic for two people in the beautiful surroundings of Hyde Park.
• See details of the Spa here and for more information about Dinner By Heston Blumenthal, click here.