This is the classic London ‘town and country’ hotel that has just re-opened from a long repose. Re-designed by Joyce Wangand, I was excited to see the Sleeping Beauty newly awakened. I am escorted up in the elevator of Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London to the 2nd floor, and without over-using the adjective ‘light’, this is what it is now: shades of pale green with a pale-brown carpet that was apparently even paler before General Manager, Amanda Hyndman said it just was not practical.
My first thought on entering suite 222 is that this is the London apartment that I could easily make home, especially since the big windows look directly out into treetops of Hyde Park (this is the ‘country’ side of the hotel, other ‘town’ side rooms look into Knightsbridge and across to Harvey Nichols). Full-length curtains in both main rooms are simple pull-across, dimpled silver-taupe silk, (there are also pull-down sheer blinds and windows open just enough for ‘fresh air’). Facing the living room windows, I have a dark marble ornamental mantelpiece on the left flanked by framed stacks of wood logs and, at the far end, a tall green plant. There is a round black marble dining table with 2 chairs. A 3-seat deep purple velour sofa faces two taupe velour armchairs, a perspex-topped, taupe-buttoned bench between them.
The bathroom is a white haven with white marble stretching to the window; there is underfloor heating. Along the left wall, I have, in a mostly-black marble surround, a pair of white Villeroy & Boch square sinks, a standing magnifier and a taupe leather box with really stylish brown-edged box necessities, including a serious-size Gillette shaver foam and razor. Next comes a ‘toto’, by Duravit. Along the right wall hang Coze by Gallarde robes and next is a heated metal rail, from which hang a plentiful supply of Liddell Van Gogh towels. Glass doors lead to the wet area and a yellow plastic duck shares shelf space with toiletries: Jo Hansford and Miller Harris Feuilles de Tabac.
The bedroom’s inset carpet is vaguely brown leaves of Autumn (and the living plant is slightly shorter than the living room’s). Here, the overhead light is a massive eight-point star. The bed has a dark green padded leather headboard with fibre optics. Comforter-free and mercifully lacking those ghastly mattress toppings, the bed, with Josephine Home linens, is marvellously comfortable. There are dark marble-topped Art Deco units with UK sockets and USB ports on either side of the bed. There is a low coffee table, with next-month pristine copies of Vogue etc and a long side unit that runs from leather-topped desk to marble-topped base for the standing television. There is a useful cure-edged green leather piece at the bed’s base, useful for watching television on or merely for storage. An Art Deco unit, with six glass-fronted doors, holds a variety of wood hangers, with trouser hangers having non-slip horizontal rails, a yoga mat in a leather bag and a drawer-set safe.
This is all so beautiful. I could live here. The owners, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, which is ultimately Jardine, want guests to come and enjoy the town and country experience so much so that they will come back again and again. Half the 180 keys, which include 40 suites, overlook Knightsbridge; the rest face the coutnry, right over the Park. After closing December 2016 for renovation, a rooftop fire 6 June 2018 delayed re-opening (all the 600-total staff, already onsite, were deployed to local charity work, which considerably helped local standing). The restaurants and ballroom reopened 4 December 2018. Amanda – as everyone calls her – was brilliant as the team started working in sync. Bedrooms opened in March.
I head down 58 stone steps, past some eye-catching Mary McCarthy photos of shire horses to the ground floor and then a further 22 steps down to Bar Boulud. This restaurant, which should actually be entered from its main street-set entrance, is much lighter hued than I remember. We are brought diagonals of baguette standing upright in a metal cup. I start with baked half-eggplant, filled with pomegranate, spring vegetable salad and yoghurt. I go on to a plat classique: steak frites, an 8oz hanger steak with fries and Béarnaise on the side (the fries are already on the plate, soaking up the steaks slices’ juice); a side cocotte holds sautéed spinach. The sommelier recommended: Inopia (‘made from nothing’) Côtes-du-Rhône Villages 2014 Rotem and Mounir Saouma.
In the morning my favourite newspapers hang outside the door, without request. I head down to the 24/7 gym (one floor below the hotel’s lowest level). As I work the Technogym – some pieces are Citterio – I look down into the pool. Next to me is an Arke set, and the weights are Invanko. On the way out I see the spa has not only Bastien Gonzalez but Nescens, Philip Kingsley, Sodashi and Voya, also some hotel products. Breakfast is in dinner, yes really. This is the three-meal Heston Blumenthal restaurant overlooking the Park (male servers wear complementary dark green suits, the same colour as the trees). Johannes from Munich offers the daily juice, a thick blackcurrant tincture and what kind of coffee? Plain dark wood tables have charcoal Chiliwich mats, white china, wood Peugeot mills and lemon Porthault napkins. The buffet is good on gluten-free, fruits and hummus and narrow-neck Brown Cow Organics yoghurts. Slices of already-cut nut-filled pieces of bread are taken to be toasted to go with Netherend Farm butter wraps and Tiptree or Wendy Brandon preserves. The buffet includes choice of eggs, pay extra – not surprisingly – for Möet plus Petrossian ossetra. Actually, celebrating the reawakening of the Sleeping Beauty justifies such a toast. And now I, like many, head across to Harvey Nicks.