Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Heir and Nails; Hotel Review

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Heir and Nails; Hotel Review

Article excerpt


MANDARIN ORIENTAL Hyde Park THE publication this autumn of the Michelin Guide 2014 revealed a second star for Heston Blumenthal's Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park. While this was gratifying for the chef it didn't mean much to my daughter and two BFFs, arriving for a sleepover to celebrate her ninth birthday. My daughter, who'd read the entire Harry Potter back catalogue by the age of eight, also has a less bookish penchant for anything to do with nails. She has packets of stick-on fake nails decorated with everything from blue skyscapes with miniature clouds to leopard print. But while I don't like it, I accept it. As does the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park. In fact, it positively encourages it as the hotel packages up manicures and a film for its privileged young guests.

The rich, red-brick, turreted facade facing Harvey Nichols is mirrored in the red coats of the smart doormen who take your bags as you pull up outside. Unimpressed, Maya and her mates kept a tight hold of their Nintendos.

Originally built as a palatial gentleman's club in 1889, with lavish rooms for smoking and playing billiards, the building opened as the Hyde Park Hotel in 1902. Partially destroyed by fire, it became the Mandarin Oriental in 1996 when it underwent a [pounds sterling]57 million restoration, injecting serious glamour to the existing grandeur.

Mixing traditional British and Oriental, interiors include coloured marble to oversized flower arrangements, ornate mouldings and a couple of Buddhas. And that's just the lobby. Rooms are filled with luxurious chintz -- we counted nine lamps just in the living room of our suite -- while oil paintings with ornate gilt frames, inlaid tables and heavy olive drapes with tassels frame the leafy park view.

A representative from Little Bu arrived to paint the girls' nails with non-toxic varnish that washes off. As they bounced on sofas I feared one of the eye-wateringly expensive lamps would get broken (as one of the girls said, "If you break one at home you could just go to Ikea but these look a bit more expensive"). …

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