This Edwardian-style hotel opened in 1902 as the Hyde Park hotel. It was originally built as Gentleman's Club but there was a fire there.
It was acquired by Mandarin Oriental in 1996 and reopened in May 2000 after a major (GBP57MN) renovation and redesign of the restaurants & bars. The hotel hosted Margaret Thatcher's 80th birthday party and, in 2011, it also hosted the UK Royal Family's pre-Royal Wedding party for the Crowned Heads of State attending Prince William's wedding the next day. I have eaten in 'Dinner by Heston' (Blumenthal) in the hotel, Foliage (when it was in the same space) and Bar Boulud in the basement.
There was an incredibly warm welcome from the doormen in their stunning bright red coats. They took my luggage & then Rosario checked me in.
The dark marble entrance hall makes far more sense when you learn it was designed for a 'Gentleman's Club'.
My 6th Floor Room
Rosario was brilliantly chatty and escorted me up to my 6th floor room where there were beautiful welcome gifts, Moet champagne on ice and stunning views of Hyde Park.
I then got ready for my first meeting in the City of London, London's traditional financial district, for 10 years.
When I got back I met an ex-Bank of England friend in the Mandarin Bar. The Bar Manager, Sebastian, gave us a great welcome and found us excellent seats.
Peter had arranged for us to be served a 'free' glass of vintage Moet and then we drank wine and perfect very dry Grey Goose martinis for me. It is such a great bar to people watch and have a laugh. The staff there are the best.
The Dorchester & Four Seasons, Park Lane
I ended the evening at The Dorchester and then the Four Seasons, Park Lane to have more martinis and catch up with the staff there.
I got back to Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park and ordered room service. It was a very warm evening in London and, while waiting for the food, I realised the a/c was not working properly.
At 2am an engineer was quickly sent to fix the problem but, while working on it, he had to switch it off completely. When it came back on it was cooling down the room too slowly and so it was agreed to move me to a replacement room on the 7th floor. I got a perfect night's sleep there.
I woke to numerous messages from Mandarin Oriental staff apologising for the problems the night before.
I spoke to the Flavia, the Hotel Manager, and she was brilliant and said they were waiving various charges. It was all an incredible way to deal a problem that could happen to any hotel.
Virgin Active, Barbican
Then I went to see my new gym at The Barbican. It is now a Virgin Active. Arta, who showed me around, was such fun and the place looked much better than I remember.
I then tried to check out but Rosario was a star and insisted I keep the room until 6pm.
Tour with Peter
Peter then took me on a tour and I got to meet Flavia (the Hotel Manager). They were both brilliant to talk to and Peter was full of interesting facts about this grand hotel and explained plans to refurbish areas like the bar.
Leaving is Difficult
After afternoon tea, I finally checked out. I felt like a celebrity with all the sweet goodbyes from various staff, such as Sebastian - the Mandarin Bar Manager -, and did not want to leave.
🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻 (6 out of 5 ‘teddies’) - the hotel gets 6 'teddies' despite the a/c issue. Like the problems at the Four Seasons George V in Paris, with my visit to the Veuve Clicquot caves, their recovery from this issue made me adore this hotel even more. My tip- even if you do not stay in this great hotel, go there for afternoon tea or a drink. Meeting the staff there is a dream.
Better get my plane to Doha now.