Fire-hit Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park reopens after $130M renovation

When a luxury hotel spends $130 million on a refurbishment, it shouldn’t need to close its doors for at least another decade or two.

Unless it catches fire immediately afterward — which is what happened at London‘s Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in June 2018 when the paint was barely dry on its long-awaited renovation.

The five-star hotel had only been open a week when welding work apparently sparked a blaze that led to the hotel’s evacuation and required more than 100 firefighters to put it out.

Fortunately, no one was hurt, and fire damage was apparently relatively minor, but it closed the hotel for a further nine months, meaning very few guests actually glimpsed its new appearance.

With doors re-opening once again this month, visitors can once again experience the latest, opulent chapter in a hotel that’s been serving the UK capital since 1902.

Reimagined spaces

The 12-story venue, located in London’s upscale Knightsbridge neighborhood, employed designer Joyce Wang to reimagine its suites, with Wang infusing the spaces with a mix of contemporary and classic influences.

There are plant-filled private terraces with sweeping views of the London skyline, mid-century modern chairs and cavernous marbled bathrooms.

Even the smaller suites, located in the building’s turrets, are super chic and come with opulent amenities, such as GHD hair straighteners and Nespresso coffee makers.

Another big change is the spa. The vision of New York designer Adam D. Tihany, it’s now home to 13 individual treatment rooms, an “Oriental Suite” with two massage beds and something called a Rasul water temple — a steam room used for skin conditioning treatments.

Tihany’s also overseen what the hotel describes as a “light refurbishment” of the hotel’s two-Michelin-starred Dinner by Heston Blumenthal — plus the other eating spaces, including the 1920s-themed Rosebery and Bar Boulud.

Go-to hotel

David Hogg, who reviews luxury hotels via his SantoriniDave website, says the refurbishment puts the Mandarin back at the top in the UK capital.

“The Mandarin Oriental’s recent renovations will make it the go-to place to stay in London for the next several years,” he tells CNN Travel.

“The location is superb for first-time visitors to London and the hotel’s rich past — guests have included heads of state, film stars, politicians and other celebrities during its 117-year history — gives it an air few other hotels can match.”

He says the penthouse suites are absolutely worth experiencing, should budget allow.

The Mandarin, which was simply known as the Hyde Park Hotel until it was acquired by the luxury brand in 1996, has hosted numerous notables including wartime leader Winston Churchill.

Its sweeping ballroom, now restored to echo its early 20th century glamor, was reputedly where Queen Elizabeth II and her sister Margaret first learned to dance.

As well as being no stranger to glamor, it’s not the first time the building has had a brush with fire. Its top three floors were damaged in a blaze in 1899 during its original iteration as a “gentlemen’s club.”