MANDARIN ORIENTAL HYDE PARK, LONDON, ENGLAND
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The elegant Mandarin Room in which I was cocooned certainly helped me feel better about being sick too. Really now, where else could I have steamed away in a deep tub where bath salts had been thoughtfully provided beforehand? The canopied king bed clothed in royal golds and reds made me feel positively princess-like as I snuggled under the down duvet between soft 400-count all-cotton sheets. The pricey, exclusive Jo Malone bath amenities in a lime and basil scent added to the sense of luxury. I lacked nothing except a good decongestant.
Although the hotel offers a "standard" room type, I found nothing "standard" about it at all. Instead of Jo Malone amenities, the standard rooms have Penhaligon bath products. They don't have a separate seating area like the Mandarin Rooms or a separate bedroom like the suites, but they are large rooms, beautifully furnished, lushly elegant. Mandarin Rooms are essentially junior suites, with a small sofa and coffee table. The suites, which range in size from cozy to palatial, have multiple rooms; all of them overlook Hyde Park.
There is no lobby lounge at the hotel. The Mandarin Bar is the meet-and-greet place-- several candlelit tables grace the entrance where you can sit and enjoy tea or a drink. Behind the reception at the front of the hotel is a large "library room" which, when not reserved for a private function, is available to guests. At the back of the hotel is the Loggia, a room that looks out over Hyde Park and is often booked for weddings, receptions and private parties.
All of the public areas have been redone in understated elegance, with just a touch of the Oriental to anchor them. The elevator lobbies on each floor, for example, are spacious and serene with live orchids and bonzai trees. The corridors, too, are scattered with displays of live plants, antique furniture and Asian pottery.
Foliage, the hotel's fine dining restaurant, faces Hyde Park, as does the more casual Park, which is open from breakfast to late night.
While there is a small fitness center available to guests at no charge, the crowning glory of the hotel is The Spa. Designed to provide an equally pampering experience to both men and women, The Spa melds all of the elements of traditional treatments with the total body experience. Trickling water sounds take the place of the ubiquitous New Age music, candlelight and subtle scents relax you. Herb tea, sauna, steam, and jetted mineral baths are encouraged before your treatments, which range from massages to manicures, detoxifying wraps and exfoliating scrubs. The prices for spa services are extremely reasonable, but because so few individuals are treated at any one time, reservations are almost requisite.
The intriguing architecture, luxurious rooms, elegant amenities and prime location of The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park would mean little if it weren't for the attentive personalized service offered to each guest.
"Pop stars" might go to The Sanderson or The Metropolitan when they are on display in London, but this is where they come when they want to relax and be pampered out of the public eye. The repeat guest roster includes such diverse luminaries as J-Lo, Britney Spears, John McEnroe, Luciano Pavarotti, Elle MacPherson, Jackie Chan, The Backstreet Boys, and Will Smith and family.
One more repeat guests' name goes on that list: Jana Jones, humble travel writer.
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