MANDARIN ORIENTAL HYDE PARK, LONDON, ENGLANDSomewhere around midnight, I tentatively punched the number on the phone: "Floor Manager." A young woman named Pamela answered.
"Um..." I started, "I'm sorry to bother you but do you think I could get a cup of coffee?"
"Oh, absolutely, Ms. Jones, I'll bring it to you straight away."
"Thanks," I said, and then rewarded her with a giant loud sneeze.
It stinks to be sick on a visit to London, but if you are going to spend half of your time being ill, there is no better environment to choose for it than the exquisite Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park.
I knew, from the first time I saw the photo of this sugar-candy Victorian structure with its arches and cornices, balconies and coves, that I had to stay there. I just had to. There are some things in life that are predestined, and this was one of them for me.
This grand Knightsbridge landmark, built in 1889, whose ballrooms hosted three generations of British queens as they learned to dance, sits squarely at the juncture of Sloan Street, Knightsbridge Road and Brompton Road, which can only mean one thing: Shopping. Harvey Nichols department store is directly across the street, Harrods is two blocks away, and the tony shops of Sloan Street are but a meandering stroll from the hotel down to Sloan Square.
But wait. The back of the hotel faces Hyde Park, right at Rotten Row, looking out over trees and green and horseriding paths.
Just as the exterior placement would indicate, the hotel itself presents two faces: The upscale hustle and bustle of Knightsbridge and the pastoral calm of leafy Hyde Park miraculously merge into one extraordinary experience once inside its doors.
A recent $68 million U.S. dollar renovation has turned the public spaces into oases of gilt and marble, the hotel bar into one of the hottest meeting places in all of London, and The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental into Great Britain's most lauded retreat for both men and women, so exclusive that only four people can be pampered at one time. The 200 guestrooms and suites have been redesigned into luxurious hideaways. Nothing that a guest could possibly want or need has been omitted.
Which brings me back to being ill during my stay, the concept of the Floor Manager service... and my midnight request for coffee.
Within a few minutes of my call, Pamela knocked lightly at my room door. She had arrived not with a CUP but with a rolling table, a pot of freshly brewed coffee, hot milk and a small plate of cookies. A vase holding a single red rose was the perfect caring touch. She was so sympathetic to my misery that had it not been for the sniffles I might have thrown my arms around her and hugged her.
Guest pampering is a signature service of the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park. Known as "the hotel where pop stars stay," (I got that from my cab driver,) there is a healthy balance of personalized attention and discreet distance. Floor Managers act as personal concierges; providing coffee in the middle of the night is no big deal to them, but it sure made an impression on me. Ask for anything and if it's doable, the Floor Managers will provide it. While other hotels have "concierge levels" with a separate service for guests on those floors, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park has taken the concept and narrowed the focus. Each floor of the hotel has this service in the persona of a Floor Manager who oversees every little detail and answers every request.
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