The revival of a legend – Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park London

With a perfect location right in the heart of London, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is not only the flagship of the Hong Kong based luxury hotel chain but also a landmark in London’s luxury hospitality market. Boasting direct views on Hyde Park as well as Knightsbridge, the hotel is ideally located both for leisure and corporate guests seeking an authentic English luxury lifestyle experience with an Asian touch.

Housed in an historic, Edwardian-style building, the hotel originally opened its doors to the public as the Hyde Park Hotel in 1902. Previously, the building housed an exclusive ‘Gentleman’s Club’, opened 1889.

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group purchased the hotel in 1996 and conducted a complete renovation of the 198 rooms and suites, as well as a new restaurants, a bar and a luxury Spa. Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London officially re-opened in May 2000.

The award winning hotel has shortly become one of the most sought after luxury hotels in London, boasting an exceptional business performance with a continued high occupancy rate and RevPar in London’s highly competitive luxury hospitality market.

The opening in 2010 of Bar Bouloud a stylish bistro and wine bar specializing in seasonal, rustic French cooking marked another important landmark for the luxury hotel. Incorporating two large connecting rooms, the restaurant features unique design points such as an impressive zinc topped bar and a sleek open kitchen.

Following the immense success of Bar Bouloud at the Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park, the group has, since, rolled out similar F&B projects at several properties including for instance Michelin starred chefs Thierry Marx and Carme Ruscalleda at the Mandarin Oriental, Paris and  Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona, respectively. This November, Mandarin Oriental, Munich is welcoming the first NOBU restaurant within the group.

One year later, in 2011, Heston Blumenthal, owner of  The Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, one of four restaurants in Great Britain to have three Michelin stars opened Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park literally turning the hotel into a fine dining mecca in London for both hotel guests and visitors. The two restaurants became a destination within the hotel. As outlined by Mandarin Oriental’s visionary executive Christophe Mares, the new restaurant concept was conceived to provide an exceptional experience at an affordable price, thus turning the F&B outlets into real ‘destinations’ within each hotel.

In 2012, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park made history once again, hosting the pre-Royal Wedding dinner (Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge with Prince William) in its iconic Ballroom. The event was attended by HM Queen Elisabeth II as well as royalty and heads of state from around the world.

Nevertheless, the fortunate high occupancy rates of the hotel had been repeatedly postponing  the much needed renovation of the accommodations between 2011 and 2015, resulting in the hotel losing out on its reputation. However, on my recent visit to the hotel, I was pleased to meet the newly appointed General Manager, Gerard Sintes, who arrived from one of my favorite Mandarin Oriental Hotels, the Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona.

I could not be more pleased especially given his achievements, having firmly positioned the Mandarin Oriental as the highest ranked luxury hotel in Barcelona since its opening. Last year, I was stunned by the addition of a new block at Mandarin Oriental Barcelona, which includes a collection of exceptional brand new suites, also designed by Patricia Urquiola who had been responsible for the entire hotel.

Mr Sintes’ ambitious tenure is already vivid throughout the entire hotel, with the addition of a new specialist barman as well as celebrity personal trainer, Ruben Tabares, at the impeccably appointed brand new wellness studio of the hotel. But most importantly the ample transformation is supported by the commitment of the group to invest over £95 million in the complete overhaul of the lobby, bar, Spa as well as all the accommodations of the hotel, including the addition of a glass enclosed roof-top collection of penthouse suites.

Mr Sintes also shared his exciting plans for an extensive revamp of the arrival experience, particularly the Concierge and Reception desks as well as the access to the Spa, connecting directly the newly opened swimming pool to the Spa. The brand new new 17-metre twin lane, stainless-steel heated swimming pool with lap timer is among the highlights of the wellness offering of the hotel.

I had the opportunity to experience one of the mock up rooms to better understand the philosophy behind the refurbishment which is very much in keeping with the traditional English style while adding contemporary elements as well as the latest technology.

The new rooms and suites will be much brighter and will boast a wealth of interior design elements inspired by Hyde Park, such as birds, greenery and flowers. The new bathrooms are sparkling to say the least, a major improvement on the previous ones.

Overall, the transformation is expected to be completed by the end of 2017, without closure, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park thus able to reclaim the highest positioning among London’s finest luxury hotels.

Oliver Petcu in London