Apparently, all Mandarin Oriental hotels have the same scent, a perfume that’s spritzed into the air so that you know exactly where you are when you walk in. That’s not the only thing that’ll catch your attention when you enter this London outpost of the famous global brand: the wallpaper is so fancy that the metallic detailing had to be painted in situ, and the lamps in the corridors are hung with horse hair in a nod to the big beasts that trot through Hyde Park at the back of the building. No wonder Heston Blumenthal – famous for his specificity and attention to detail – decided to open Dinner by Heston Blumenthal here, which went on to win two Michelin stars.
It’s remarkable that any of this is even here at all. The hotel underwent a massive renovation back in 2016, but much of that was ruined when a fire broke out a couple of years later. Fast forward another year and the doors swung open on the place you see now – just in time for Covid-19 to come along and send us all into lockdown. Now that things are back to normal, you can appreciate the Mandarin in all of its palatial glory, with floors and walls decked in marble and modern chandeliers dangling overhead.
As you’d expect, rooms are incredibly plush and packed with an impressive array of gadgets and goodies, including Diptyque bathroom bits that you won’t want to leave half-finished. Many have an expansive view across Hyde Park too, but if you miss out just ask for a window seat at breakfast. If you can afford to splash out, a meal at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is truly unforgettable – you won’t find cooking this inventive and thought-provoking in many other places – or take some time to indulge at what is widely regarded as one of the city’s best spas.
Knightsbridge is where you’ll find Harrods, Harvey Nichols and some of the most expensive real estate in the world. It’s a little bit fancy, in other words. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune to enjoy yourself here. You’ll be right next to many of the city’s finest galleries and museums, not to mention Hyde Park, London’s most famous green space. There are also loads of picturesque residential streets to wander around and dreamy properties to imagine yourself living in.
1. V&A: For anyone interested in browsing one of the most eclectic collections of art and design in the world.
2. Hawksmoor Knightsbridge: For those who love a steak, cooked to perfection. Hawksmoor has made its name on thick slabs of meat, but everything on the menu here is faultless.
3. Cadogan Hall: For musos who want to enjoy a top-tier night of classical music in a former church.
Time Out tip:
Look out for the Royal Horse Guards trotting past the back of the hotel wearing full regal garb just after 10.30am every weekday. They’re on their way to the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace – a delightful bit of pomp.