Our stay at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park left us disappointed for one reason: we couldn’t stay there forever.
It’s a strong statement to make, but we wouldn’t mind waking up every day in the Franco-Flemish style building where Queen Elizabeth II and the late Princess Margaret first learned to dance, where Margaret Thatcher celebrated her 80th birthday party, and Prince William and Kate Middleton enjoyed their lavish gala dinner before their widely covered wedding in 2011.
Indeed, the walls of the Mandarin Oriental have observed many royal celebrations, political meetings and maybe even an untold love story or two – it surely is romantic.
The hotel, which overlooks Hyde Park on one side and Knightsbridge on the other, was originally built as an exclusive gentleman’s club in 1889, before becoming the Hyde Park Hotel in 1902 and almost a century later, was purchased by Hong Kong-based Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, which spent a whopping £57m ($71m) on renovation.
In its 115-year history, the hotel has survived two fires, one which took place in June last year. But walking up its marble stairs, it’s hard to tell it’s ever been damaged. Everywhere we wandered, we were surrounded by grand marble columns, gold plated ceilings and hundreds of fresh flowers distributed in almost every corner of the property.
We booked our Mandarin Room last minute so did not have a view, but we didn’t mind. The space has plenty to admire; from the custom-made Onyx chandelier to the hand-gilded mirror artwork and plush classic furniture, the room oozes luxury, but feels more cosy than most hotel rooms. Perhaps it’s the silly little details like the incredibly comfortable sofa that somehow always put us in a relaxed mood, or the lighting that just seemed to flatter our figure from every angle, or even the hair straightener that saved us a trip to the hair salon.
It’s always the little gestures that impress us the most, such as the friendly waitresses greeting us with no judgement as we arrive at the breakfast buffet five minutes before it closes (who else presses the snooze button?).
There’s a reason it’s nicknamed ‘the royal hotel’ – and it’s not just because of its royal guests – but the impeccable service you are guaranteed when you stay at this majestic property. With three restaurants and one bar, we had plenty of options for dining, but unfortunately did not have the opportunity to try the venues beyond the breakfast buffet. If you do have the time to indulge in the hotel’s facilities, opt for a treatment at the spa, which was expanded to feature 13 rooms from the initial nine.
If you can afford it, stay at the Mandarin Oriental Penthouse, a three-bedroom suite with sweeping views of Hyde Park. You’ll find yourself surrounded by silk wall coverings, chandeliers, nature-inspired artwork, full-height libraries and a private balcony from which you can admire the beauty and bustle of London. Can you hear it calling yet?