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The Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge Unveils New Makeover

The first phase of the hotel's multi-million-pound revamp is complete. Luxury London spends an evening in one of the brand new rooms. 

Sir Peter Blake’s epic collage, Our Fans, that has covered the unmistakable frontage of the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park for the best part of the year has come down to reveal a revitalised red brick Franco-Flemish façade – marking the first phase of the hotel’s multi-million-pound revamp as complete.

The project is Joyce Wang Studio’s first UK commission (it previously transformed the rooms and suites of The Landmark Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong), and the Knightsbridge institution’s most dramatic renovation in its 115-year history.

Part of the first phase included the reception and lobby areas, and as my guest and I approach the entrance one of the impeccably dressed doormen immediately takes our luggage and points us in the right direction. A short walk up the grand staircase – presided over by a glass chandelier reminiscent of a flower in bloom – followed by a sharp left leads us to the unconventional reception area. The whole room is a feast for the eyes: two freestanding desks lie either side of an arresting aluminium Fredrikson Stallard wall sculpture and Chinese pottery from the Ch’ing Dynasty gives a nod to the hotel group’s Asian heritage. Despite these opulent touches, the layout makes checking in feel far more casual than the authoritarian reception desks of many other West End hotels.

We are shown to one of the newly renovated suites on the eighth floor, which overlooks the quiet courtyard – those on the opposite side of the corridor look out onto the bustling area around Harvey Nichols. The décor is warm, sumptuous and very much inspired by the Art Deco era, yet it doesn’t feel over the top. The deep peacock blue of the bed’s leather headboard throws the room’s cool grey walls into contrast; the bronze and gold tones in the gilded wall art and honey-toned wood furnishings provide a cosiness to alleviate the fresh autumnal breeze outside. The neutral, patterned carpet celebrates the landscape of the nearby Hyde Park, featuring a design evocative of fallen leaves or the bark of a tree.

The bathroom is lined in ivory and silver Volakas marble: golden lighting and sweet-smelling treats from Miller Harris and Jo Hansford make it practically compulsory to run a bath before dinner (and most likely afterwards, too). Electrical amenities are top-of-the-range throughout, including a Bower & Wilkins music player and a rather entertaining, if not slightly complex, lavatory.

In essence, the room induces an instantaneous feeling of calm and in minutes I am engulfed in a dressing gown and reclining on the almost comically large bed, glass of pink champagne in hand.

It proves difficult, but thankfully we muster the energy to get dressed for dinner downstairs in Bar Boulud – Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud’s first and only UK restaurant, which followed the successful French-style bistro of the same name in New York. It is due to be lightly revamped in the next phase of the renovation, although there isn’t much to fault even now. The atmosphere is buzzing; the tables dimly lit; and the low, squishy banquettes perfect for whispering and people-watching.

The eye-popping flavour of my guest’s escargots and the earthy sweetness of the tomatoes that accompany my beautifully light burrata snap us out of any prior lethargy. For the main course I choose roasted plaice that is served in delicate white curls, as pretty as shells; while my guest opts for a rare, butter-soft ribeye with béarnaise sauce. Breakfast is a less decadent but equally delicious affair, focusing trendily on superfoods as well as offering Chinese and Japanese menus.

The 100 high-profile guests that feature on Sir Peter Blake’s collage plus the hotel’s recent television fame (A Very British Hotel on Channel 4) might imply a stuffy image, yet I find it to be quite the opposite. The staff offer just the right amount of attention and the surroundings are luxurious yet homely. As we reluctantly leave, we pass a fan (the hotel’s symbol) designed by Jenny Packham to commemorate the renovation. I imagine that after the next phase (due to finish in spring), the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park will have even more to celebrate.

From £540 per room per night, 66 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7LA, www.mandarinoriental.com