What It’s Like to Stay at the Mandarin Oriental Mayfair, a Intimate Hotel in London’s Hanover Square

Welcome to Checking In, a review series in which our editors and contributors rate the best new (and revamped) luxury hotels based on a rigorous—and occasionally tongue-in-cheek—10-point system: Each question answered “yes” gets one point. Will room service bring you caviar? Does your suite have its own butler? Does the bathroom have a bidet? Find out below.

Mandarin Oriental Mayfair

The pool at the Mandarin Oriental Mayfair
The pool, located in the spa, is a major showstopper.

In three words: Modern. Chic. Discrete.

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What’s the deal?
Hanover Square, at the heart of London’s Mayfair district, has recently undergone something of a rebirth. Years of construction and renovation has resulted in new restaurants, a dedicated entrance to the Elizabeth Line (the newest addition to the Tube network), a refreshed garden square in the center and, on its south-western corner, a sleek and understated property in glass and steel—the Mandarin Oriental Mayfair. The hotel has 50 rooms and suites, with 77 private residences adjoining, a subterranean spa, and the first London restaurants by chef Akira Back.

Previous visitors to Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London’s other MO property on Knightsbridge, will notice a marked difference between that hotel and this. In place of dark wood and dramatic staircases are exquisite green marble and cascades of natural light pouring into the public spaces through enormous windows. Extravagant spires and period features give way to sleek contemporary artworks and fittings. The difference in size is also evident: MO Mayfair is more of a boutique than a grande dame, but the space here has been used intelligently. Down a sweeping spiral staircase from the lobby you will find the restaurant and bar in a gorgeous atrium, with sunlight (when available, though not guaranteed—this is London, after all) filling the restaurant space and the bar a contrasting low-lit hideaway. Nestled behind a secret door is a 14-seat chef’s table, Dosa, which will soon be serving Korean cuisine to intimate parties, and there’s also two private dining options available to groups who choose the modern Japanese of flagship Akira Back.

One floor below the dining spaces is a tranquil and elegant spa, gently lit and decorated with bespoke one-off art pieces by English artists. Spa treatments are tailored to the guest after a consultation with a skin specialist, rather than order off of a menu. The intention for this spa is that locals can find as much use as hotel guests: treatments range from 22 minutes, for the busy office crowd, to two hours. When added to the recommended one hour pre-treatment use of the general wellness facilities, like sauna, steam, and vitality pools, that’s a healthy dose of relaxation.

The best room:

A suite at the Mandarin Oriental Mayfair
The Mayfair Suite sprawls and is designed by London firm Studio Indigo.

At just over 1,500 square feet, the Mayfair Suite is the largest and most luxurious. A living area with space for six people to sit and dine complements a huge bedroom and dressing area. Silk wallpaper and plush furnishings give the whole space the atmosphere of a luxury apartment. There’s even a hand-crafted porcelain light feature above your dining room, just to underline how exclusive this space really is. London-based design agency Studio Indigo were chosen to create the rooms and suites; its talents are most often applied to private yachts and residences, and that pedigree has clearly carried over well to what is its first hotel project.

The Rundown

Reception at the Mandarin Oriental Mayfair
The hotel is sleek, modern, and intimate.

Did they greet you by name at check-in?
Not just at check-in, but at the restaurant, spa, concierge desk . . . the entire staff seemed to have been briefed on the identity of me and my fiancée, and were always ready with a friendly smile and the offer of a helping hand.

Welcome drink ready and waiting when you arrived? Bonus point if it wasn’t just fruit juice.
A chilled bottle of Champagne was waiting in our suite when we were escorted up there, and we were also informed that the contents of the mini-bar were also included in the stay: locally-sourced beers and soft drinks, as well as a selection of snacks, all replenished by housekeeping as you need them.

Does the resort have a standout perk?
Dragging yourself away from the pool will probably take some doing, and the scope of pampering available in the spa will make leaving that area even more difficult. A little later in the year, however, the rooftop bar will open where the views over Mayfair promise to be second to none.

Private butler for every room?
Technically no, but the concierge service was so quick and efficient with the requests we had need to make of them that in practice it felt like there was.

Is the sheet thread count higher than 300?
Light and airy cotton with a thread count of 550 dresses your (frankly enormous) bed.

Is there a heated floor in the bathroom? What about a bidet?
Our suite had heated floor in the bathroom as well as heated mirrors to prevent steaming in not just the bathroom but the shower as well. In place of a traditional bidet was a Toto electronic toilet seat, performing all the usual bidet tasks but also adding automated seat up/down function. That’s true luxury.

Are the toiletries full sized?
From the shower gel and shampoo to the body lotion and hand wash, all full-sized and beautifully-scented products by Natura Bissé.

Is there a private pool for the room’s exclusive use?
Not here, but this is central London and space is premium. There’s plenty of room in the spa for everyone to have the sensation of privacy while swimming.

Are the restaurants worth their salt?
Main restaurant Akira Back provides all-day dining, which is worth a visit on its own. Breakfast is a blend of contemporary European and Asian cuisines, like yuzu honey on French toast and a breakfast bento (which is huge) alongside the classic English cooked breakfast. Dinner highlights include the absolute must-try tuna pizza—thinly-sliced tuna on crispy tortilla base, inspired by something chef created after a long day’s work from whatever was left in his kitchen at home—and wagyu tacos, as well as a simply incredible short-rib. The wine list has been well-curated, and if you, like we did, opt for a flight of the sommelier’s suggestions you can expect bottles of perhaps slightly unusual origin. Worthy of mention is the artwork that decorates the space: It’s all by chef Back’s mother, from the giant piece behind the bar to the tiny abstract works revealed on the crockery as you work your way through each sharing platter.  It’s a personal touch which brings an added warmth to the dining experience. The extensive use of natural wood in the restaurant decor is juxtaposed by sleek, cool grey stone in the hidden chef’s table. A vast open pass allows for every moment of the preparation to be observed by the 14 diners sat around the counter, and the service is à la carte as opposed to set menu so there’s sure to be enough theatre to keep them all enthralled.

Is there caviar on the room service menu? If so, what kind?
Not on the in-room dining, but N25 Oscietra caviar is available at breakfast for those who like to begin a day in the most opulent fashion.

Do you want to spend Friday night in the lobby bar?
It’s not actually in the lobby, but Abar Lounge is a stylish space to have a drink. The decor is reserved and slick, the music is lively but not overpowering, and the cocktails are sublime. This will become a Mayfair hotspot in no time.

Would you buy the hotel if you could?
Absolutely. The location alone would make that the correct call, but the quality of what has been created here make it an absolute no-brainer.

The Verdict

A room at the Mandarin Oriental Mayfair
Slip into a robe and relax.

One of the most beautiful aspects of the Mandarin Oriental Mayfair is the way it takes a natural place in the area. This is a neighborhood which expects only the truly world-class, and opening any business here puts you in some serious company. The discretion and elegance of the styling, the relaxed and affable nature of the hospitality, and the sheer quality of every tiny detail of this hotel make it feel not like a new opening, but like an established pillar of this luxurious community. To do that at all is impressive, but to have achieved it in just a matter of weeks is truly excellent.

Rates: From about $1,200.

Score: 9

What Our Score Means: 
1-3: Fire your travel agent if they suggest you stay here. 
4-6: Solid if you’re in a pinch—but only if you’re in a pinch. 
7-8: Very good. We’d stay here again and recommend it without qualms. 
9-10: Forget booking a week. When can we move in permanently?

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