Five star feasting at the Mandarin Oriental
- Credit: Archant
For an enchanting weekend of gourmet delights, look no further than the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London
There’s something magical about staying in the heart of the capital in the run up to a big event, festival or celebration; an extra excitement in the air which everyone seems to embrace whatever their background or beliefs.
On a freezing winter’s weekend in the run up to Christmas, my partner Brett and I were lucky enough to experience this in person whilst spending two nights at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London. With 26 luxury hotels around the world we knew we’d be in for a treat and we certainly weren’t disappointed.
As well as an air of elegance and glamour, the hotel seemed to exude a special ‘x’ factor – and I’m not referring to Simon Cowell, whom we later read had booked a suite for the day whilst his boiler was being fixed; nor indeed the Chinese President Xi Jinping, who spent a night at the hotel during his first state visit to Britain a few weeks before our trip. From the very moment we stepped inside the spectacular lobby we too were treated like celebrities.
After enjoying a relaxing welcome drink in the Mandarin Bar, we headed up to our junior Beauchamp Suite on the 7th floor, which was perfectly positioned with a view across the tree tops of Hyde Park and the Winter Wonderland within. It looked so inviting we decided to pop over for a very pleasant couple of hours. With a Bavarian village, ice rink and circus, as well as craft stalls, food outlets and fairground rides (and on this occasion an accompanying Siberian wind) it really did live up to its name.
Eating in Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud’s French-style bistro Bar Boulud certainly warmed us up, and we didn’t even have to venture outside thanks to the restaurant’s location in the heart of the hotel; albeit accessible to non-residents via a separate entrance off Knightsbridge. The atmosphere was cosy and the venue busy on a Friday night, yet importantly the service remained impeccable.
I opted for the soup starter, in which the French onions were beautifully complemented by beef broth, white wine and gruyere; followed by a delicious volatile rotie chicken breast with Jerusalem artichoke, chestnut mushrooms, confit garlic and chicken jus. Brett selected the crab duo followed by a paleron de boeuf; a tasty ensemble of red wine braised beef feather blade, carrots, baby gem and fresh horseradish. Afterwards, we shared le royal dessert, a hazelnut dacquoise with crispy praline feuillant, chocolate mousse and a beautiful golden shiny glaze. For a chocoholic like me it was truly yummy.
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We withdrew to our suite, which, complete with marble bathroom, was extremely comfortable with all the facilities you would expect from a five star hotel. After a good night’s sleep we limited ourselves to a small breakfast, aware that the highlight of our trip - our lunch reservation at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal - was fast approaching.
Dining experience would be a more suitable description as we were led through the menu under the tutelage of the restaurant’s expert and enthusiastic staff. Each dish has been inspired by traditional recipes dating between the thirteenth and nineteenth centuries and most only reach the menu after years of testing and perfecting at Heston’s development kitchen, located half way between the hotel and his second establishment The Fat Duck in Bray. As a rule, each chef assumes responsibility for only one station to ensure the consistency in quality of the dishes which emerge.
After much deliberation, I decided upon the Earl Grey tea cured salmon, with lemon salad, wood sorrel and smoked roe. Incidentally the accompanying gentleman’s relish was once determined to be too strong for the delicate tastes of a lady due to its anchovy content! I selected Hereford ribeye as my main with mushroom ketchup and triple cut chips. Both courses were delicious and came in surprisingly generous portion sizes.
Brett opted to try the famous meat fruit; a chicken liver parfait shaped and double dipped in mandarin jelly to look like a real fruit. The resemblance really was uncanny and I kept expecting him to pick it up and peel it like an orange. Each parfait takes three days to make and demand often exceeds 1000 per week. After this Brett enjoyed a main of chicken cooked with lettuces, with grilled onion emulsion, spiced celeriac sauce and oyster leaves. The sommelier was on hand throughout to recommend wines to complement each dish.
The hardest decision we made that day was choosing a dessert. I went for the famous tipsy cake, a divine brioche bun soaked in rum syrup with vanilla, sultanas and a spit-roasted pineapple for good measure. Brett had the beekeeper’s chocolate, a beautifully presented toasted barley mousse, with malt and honey cake and chocolate and ale ice cream.
Although extremely sated by this point, it would have been rude not to try the famous liquid nitrogen ice cream made by the restaurant’s self branded Mr Whippy. As well as being very tasty, the spectacle of seeing it made next to our table was an experience in itself and drew admiring glances from the numerous other diners.
After so much delicious food, we opted to take a long meandering walk around central London – enjoying a cocktail in the Oxo Tower Bar before watching the sun set over the Thames and winding our way back past Westminster and Buckingham Palace. You really cannot fault the hotel’s location with a huge number of attractions right on its doorstep. If you are in the market for a spot of retail therapy then Harvey Nichols and Harrods are literally across the road; there’s a plethora of museums a short distance away, and a night at the theatre is but a short hop by taxi or tube. The hotel also has its own spa and wellness centre if you wish to escape the hustle and bustle, as well as The Rosebury Lounge where a relaxing afternoon tea can be taken.
Whilst I have often visited London for day trips, it really was a treat to spend two nights in such a renowned hotel. On the second morning, as we enjoyed a full English breakfast, we were lucky enough to witness the daily procession of the Household Cavalry along South Carriage Drive which was a truly memorable spectacle. Eating tea and toast back home the following day felt a bit of a let down by comparison.
Whether you are a regular traveller looking to stay at an iconic hotel, a foodie with a passion to experience traditional recipes with a twist, or someone simply looking for a special treat for a landmark birthday or celebration, then the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London should fit the bill. It will be an expensive bill, but well worth it in our opinion!