Sun, swim, spa and be spoilt – all without going through customs.
It might seem an impossible dream, but with the uncertainty surrounding holidays abroad a break within these shores is looking ever more attractive.
With everyone fighting for space at UK seaside resorts, maybe now is the time to think about a city break – The Mandarin Oriental Hotel London offers all the ‘S’s’ – with knobs on.
The iconic Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park has done the utmost to provide a haven from the stresses of everyday life for guests, writes Ian
In a refreshing departure from non-inclusive ‘extras’ and ‘add-ons’ the luxury hotel, which boasts Hyde Park as its back yard, is offering a staycation package that includes breakfast, hotel credit, early check-in, late check-out, valet parking, champagne, and a choice of either an afternoon tea hamper, an inner strength-outer strength consultation with two 30-minute treatments or a tailor-made cocktail experience.
This latest initiative to attract the UK’s holiday-starved staycationers comes as one new report reveals 73 per cent of people took no holiday in 2020 and with limited opportunities for travel abroad predicts high demand for British breaks, while meteorologists forecast a UK heatwave for August.
The Mandarin Oriental can’t guarantee the weather but the hotel has done the utmost to provide a haven from the stresses of everyday life for guests. Rooms are luxuriously appointed with freestanding baths, gorgeous toiletries including divinely scented bath crystals and extra touches such as GHD hair straighteners, hi-tech coffee machines and an amazing array of specialist teas as standard. It’s an establishment with a Royal pedigree and arguably the poshest penthouse in London, but with staff that strive to make every guest’s experience special.
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is welcoming guests back with a Travel Again package, which offers 20 per cent off the best available rate until December 31, 2021
In 2019 the hotel finished the biggest refurbishment in its history, which included the addition of a deluxe penthouse consisting of a flexible design with two interconnecting suites, the Oriental one bedroom and the Mandarin two-bedroom. As well as bedrooms, together they contain four marble bathrooms, five loos – two with a dozen different functions, a dressing room, two kitchens, two eight-seater dining areas, and five terraces that wrap around the entire ninth floor, providing incredible panoramic views across London.
Styled to feel like a delux London apartment with custom made furniture and chandeliers – even in the bathrooms, I was fortunate enough to be invited to try out the Oriental’s luxury accommodation, the usual resident oligarchs were probably stuck in self-isolation, and with all that space it seemed churlish not to ask my wife to join me.
Of course, this kind of accommodation being usually reserved for the super-rich comes with its own personal penthouse butler. We couldn’t find much for the delightful Santa to do, but ordered some fresh milk and she offered to make coffee, but I was enjoying myself too much making a brew with the snazzy machine. Naturally, she was much too discreet to share any stories about famous guests, but she did say the most necessary attribute for a post like hers was ‘a genuine enthusiasm for the job, anything less and it really shows.’
In 2019 the hotel finished the biggest refurbishment in its history, which included the addition of a deluxe penthouse (pictured) consisting of a flexible design with two interconnecting suites, the Oriental one bedroom and the Mandarin two-bedroom. Ian and his wife tried it out for size
The penthouse (pictured) contains four marble bathrooms, five loos – two with a dozen different functions – a dressing room, two kitchens, two eight-seater dining areas, and five terraces that wrap around the entire ninth floor, providing incredible panoramic views across London
Above is the penthouse living room. Ian describes the top-floor accommodation as ‘spectacular’
Although our accommodation was spectacular and the higher powers had even provided sunshine, to get the full benefit of the amazing location it was necessary to get our walking shoes on and check out London’s emerald paradise, Hyde Park.
Henry VIII’s former hunting ground covers 350 acres, with over 4,000 trees, flower gardens and the vast Serpentine Lake, the park offers wild swimming every weekend in the Lido until September 31, boating and pedalo’s as well as tennis, cycling, horse-riding and carriage riding. It’s also the ideal spot to enjoy the hotel’s delicious picnic hamper, which comes complete with fruit drinks, champagne, disposable flutes and wooden cutlery.
The delicate finger rolls have fillings including: oyster leaves, nori poached salmon, wasabi and keta caviar on beetroot bread; smoked applewood cheddar, roasted almonds, pickled ginger grapes and black garlic spread, while the handmade pastries consisted of poached pear, on almond shortbread with vanilla cream, chocolate and tonka gateaux with cocoa sable and hazelnut praline, exotic cube cake with mango and lychee and my personal favourite, Japanese chiffon roll with steamed lemon biscuit, strawberry confit and Timur pepper cream. All rounded off with four exquisite little bonbons.
Such indulgence was a good incentive to go for a jog around the park – well more of a brisk walk before the spa part of our staycation.
Attentive staff take our shoes and swap them for waterproof slippers before offering refreshing towels and a fruit or herbal tea. We fill out brief forms specifying the pressure we want applied during our massage and what areas we would like the therapist to concentrate on. Guests are invited to come earlier than their treatment in order to experience facilities which are separated for men and women.
Ian and his wife enjoyed a spa treatment. He writes: ‘We fill out brief forms specifying the pressure we want applied during our massage and what areas we would like the therapist to concentrate on’
Dinner By Heston Blumenthal is a truly memorable experience. The star of the show? The ice-cream maker that’s wheeled to the table, writes Ian
The pool at the spa, where Ian had months of knotted shoulder and neck muscles unravelled
Ian was hosted by Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park. The hotel is welcoming guests back with their Travel Again package, which offers 20 per cent off the best available rate until December 31, 2021, with prices starting from £520 per room per night.
Its staycation package starts from £740 per room per night and includes: breakfast, hotel credit, early check-in, late check-out, valet parking, champagne, and a choice of either an afternoon tea hamper, an inner strength-outer strength consultation with 2x 30-minute treatments or a tailor-made cocktail experience.
Steps lead down towards the sound of rushing water and a 38C heated hydrotherapy pool’ with water jets and a built-in seated area. A generous steam room is adorned with calming amethyst crystals and there is a compact sauna and relaxation room with fluffy toweling covered adjustable beds, magazines, fruit and herbal teas. An identical room is available where both sexes can mingle after treatments. My wife liked the separate facilities for men and women, but caused a few red faces when she stumbled into the men’s area after taking out her contact lenses – she reported the facilities were exactly the same except the women’s one had more products and was ‘tidier’.
The massages were amazing at unravelling months of knotted shoulder and neck muscles, but barely scratched the surface of the vast array of treatments on offer including cutting edge anti-aging facials, aromatherapy, acupuncture as well as the usual hair and beauty offerings. It really was a top to toe session for me as next podiatrist and pedicure expert Pierre got to work on my feet. Battered by years of rugby and cricket my wife declared them ‘unrecognisable’ after Pierre’s ministrations.
A trip to the restaurant, Dinner by Heston beckoned, I fairly bounced down the marble steps on my newly filed trotters to the dining area, which looks out onto the park one way and into the glass-sided kitchen the other. Signature dishes such as meat fruit, the famed chicken liver parfait served as an exact replica of a mandarin orange and tipsy cake, cream-filled baked soft and moist brioche gradually basted in alcohol and served with caramelised spit roast pineapple are perfect as is the impeccable service, but the star of the show was the ice-cream maker.
What appears to be a white Singer sewing machine is wheeled to the table. Ingredients are poured in by a waiter who looks like he enjoys every minute of this table theatre, then using some kind of culinary alchemy (and liquid nitrogen) he turns the hand crank and amidst a cloud of dry ice instant delicious ice cream appears and is scooped into a cone adorned with sprinkles of powdered strawberries and popping candy.
I doubt my financial situation will ever allow me to be a penthouse regular, but I will definitely be back for ‘Dinner’ and another pedicure.