Christmas in London is absolutely magical. After 13 Christmases in the city, I consider myself a bit of an expert, you see. I take Christmas VERY seriously. From the twinkling lights on Oxford Street to the famous skating rink at Somerset House, one could spend every day of the entire season trying to fit in all the holiday delights this city has to offer. I give it a go every year and barely scratch the surface. That all being said, I had a new Christmas experience last week at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park.
I’ve passed the facade of the Mandarin Oriental in London more times than I could possibly count and each year their front entrance is decorated immaculately in the run up to Christmas. This is the stuff London holiday dreams are made of. Yet, I had never stepped inside the hallowed halls. As I walked up the grand staircase and the doorman, dressed perfectly in a freshly pressed red uniform, welcomed me inside, I quickly realized that the Christmas decor on the outside of the building was only the beginning of this holiday experience.
In the front hallway of the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, I was greeted by a fully decorated mantle, which was flanked by the most grand Christmas tree. And one would have to be blind to miss the giant Harrods bear ready to greet visitors of all ages. The Mandarin Oriental and Harrods have close ties at Christmas – so much so that the Christmas package at the Mandarin Oriental includes a teddy bear surprise in room for visitors (see pictures below).
Now, a few things you have to do if you’re checking into the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park for Christmas. And I can say, 100% that it’s a seasonal treat of epic proportions. I’ve set up a bit of an itinerary for you…
1. Check in early and enjoy afternoon Tea! The Christmas afternoon tea has everything from marshmallow snowballs to teddy bear cookies. Yes, this truly is fun for the whole family. Kids even get their own tea serving. I had my special afternoon tea with my Harrods teddy. Hey, don’t judge- I was all on my own!
2. Sneak downstairs for the Dame Shirley cocktails in the Mandarin Bar. Get ready for festive and fruity goodness.
3. After cocktails, keep moving and follow your nose. That delicious smell is coming from downstairs in Bar Boulud. While their burgers are legendary, and I’d never ever leave without ordering one, I must say that the pumpkin soup (the perfect water for the Christmas season) is quite simply sensational. It even comes topped with marshmallows. Marshmallows, people. Note: We also tried the snails, sipped champagne and ordered two desserts as recommended by our most excellent waiter. All were outstanding.
4. When you finally do make it back to the room, and you happen to be staying in the Park Suite, take advantage of the perfect view over Hyde Park, and the neon lights coming from Winter Wonderland- all done while snuggling up with your Harrods bear, naturally. Don’t forget to indulge in the sweet treats that are left bedside for you at turndown.
5. Wake up early! There is way too much to see and do here in the Mandarin Oriental. You’ll kick yourself for laying back and sleeping in. I know, it’s tough. The bed is so comfortable, you’ll not want to move a muscle. But, there is a beautiful spa that awaits you. Whether you are tucking into a treatment (I recommend the Linda Meredith Couture Facial) or just headed down for a swim in the pool or moments in the wet rooms, take your time and enjoy the space for relaxation. It will set you up perfectly for the day.
6. Speaking of setting up the day – don’t skip breakfast. The breakfast tables overlook Hyde Park. Take coffee as you enjoy watching horseback riders pass in the park. You may feel a moment of conflict as you tuck into your pancakes as runners pass by, but let it go – you’re on vacation and it’s Christmas. We all know calories don’t count at Christmas.
Now, it will be hard but, after breakfast, and after you’ve packed your bags (at a leisurely pace), it will be time to go. As you go to exit your Christmas holiday, Harrods teddy in hand, make sure to snap a selfie with the lifesized bear in the front entrance – some hard evidence that you lived the fairytale for a night.
66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA
020 7235 2000
FFG stayed one night as a guest of the Mandarin Oriental.