Page 182 - Simply Abu Dhabi Magazine III

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History
Overlooking London’s finest Royal Park on one side and cosmopolitan Knightsbridge on
the other, the hotel was originally built in 1889 as an exclusive ‘Gentleman’s Club’ with
lavishly furnished drawing and dining rooms, a billiard room and a smoking room.
The project, originally known as Hyde Park Court, was announced in August 1887
but was delayed by endless planning disagreements, the most notable dispute being the
proposed height of the development, which was to be the tallest building in London.
Outraged residents feared a shadow would be cast over the Serpentine in Hyde Park
and they threatened to force the builders to reduce the number of floors by putting up a
wooden barrier which would block the light to the lower floors. An unsuccessful Bill was
brought before parliament to reduce the restriction of buildings from 100 feet to 60 feet,
and so the original design of the hotel remained.
The palatial interior decoration, the lavish use of marbles and gilding were years ahead of
the best London hotels. The hall, entered from Knightsbridge through swinging doors
of carved walnut, was lined with coloured marble and had a frescoed ceiling, as well as
a marble chimneypiece complete with a marble clock. Stairs of white marble flanked
with balustrades led to the upper ground floor. This style of decoration continued in the
principal communal rooms, including the breakfast and dining room overlooking Hyde
Park.
From past to present
In its most exciting year since opening, Mandarin Oriental is now home to two exciting
new restaurants including Bar Boulud, London and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, the
first London restaurant for one of the UK’s most renowned chefs of the Fat Duck Group,
bringing the experience of six Michelin stars under one roof.
Breath taking views over Hyde Park are offered from most of the sumptuous suites,
along with a level of refined luxury that only something of uncompromising quality
can achieve. None of the hotel’s suites are alike. Following an extensive renovation,
the prestigious Royal Suite opened in August 2010, and the Sovereign Suite boasts a
stunning bedroom with four-poster bed which leads on to a private balcony where four
people can dine in luxury. This suite also offers a unique bathroom with free-standing
Victorian bath.
Recently renovated, with the leafy landscape of Hyde Park as its back garden, the
new Royal Suite is London’s premier address. Remaining true to its elegant Victorian
architectural heritage but introducing a fresh, contemporary style, the expanded suite
of 242 square meters has a distinctly residential feel, and includes a master bedroom and
bathroom, separate living room, dining room and kitchen and two adjoining additional
bedrooms all of which evoke a feeling of staying in a chic city apartment. A sweeping
balcony runs the length of the suite - dine alfresco with a private dinner for 12 and a team
of waiters to tend to your every need, host a drinks party for 40, or simply sit back, relax
and enjoy the glorious views.
Chillaxing @The Mandarin Oriental
For the ultimate in urban escapism, we treated ourselves to The Spa. This is a place where
the boundaries of East and West blend in harmony to create a haven of tranquillity.
Drawing on exotic therapies and philosophies from around the world, a series of specially
designed treatments are offered to rejuvenate the body and spirit. As guests of the spa, we
were encouraged to take time in the Amethyst Crystal Steam Room, Sanarium, Vitality
Pool and Zen Colour Therapy Relaxation area to ensure optimal relaxation.
Texture, light, and space are integral components of the spa, designed to stimulate the
senses of the body and to create a feeling of wellbeing. Through the entrance of The Spa
at Mandarin Oriental, lies a space with sweeping architectural lines that creates a sensual
environment from traditional and hand-crafted materials. The piers of the building are
separated by exotic horsehair panels, while the recesses emit a subdued light. Design
features include jet-black stone slabs in black Zimbabwean granite, stunning sculptural
works of art and bespoke black American walnut furniture by internationally renowned
designers Azumi. We were invited to step down into a haven of steam rooms, sanarium
and drench showers. A glass wall separates this area from the unique revitalising pool that
has been sunken in a cave of lighting. Each of the eight treatment suites reflects its own
personal and absorbing sense of place, all subtly different with sculptural features and a
palette of lacquers, plasters and timbers, with calming views through the glass shower out
to the gravel garden and light beyond. We left the spa having felt like we had discovered
the fountain of youth.
In two words, Simply Blissful!
With the this hotel verging on near perfection, we can’t help but wonder what the
Mandarin Oriental - Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi will be like when it opens? We can
only assume if it is a reflection of their London landmark – then the answer is, quite
simply out of this world!
Overall, the customer service, ambience, décor and food were amazing and A&J would
like to thank the General Manager; Mr Anthony McHale and his excellent team at the
Mandarin Oriental, for a truly phenomenal experience.
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