‘A stay at this £1,000-a-night London hotel is a pleasurable way to burn money’

The Mandarin Oriental Mayfair has recently opened its doors
The Mandarin Oriental Mayfair has recently opened its doors - George Apostolidis
The Mandarin Oriental Mayfair has recently opened its doors
The Mandarin Oriental Mayfair has recently opened its doors - George Apostolidis

I often wander around town wondering who lives in all those glossy new-build apartment complexes with the fancy lobby lights, slick branding and doormen. I recently stopped to take a photo of a beautiful copper sculpture by the artist Yasemen Hussein in the entrance of Clarges Mayfair, and the concierge rushed out to tell me to stop. I loathe the attempt to make public thoroughfares feel private in London, so I told him to get stuffed and continued. I go back to do it whenever I’m nearby.

Staying at the new Mandarin Oriental Mayfair last week, I got some idea of what it would be like to live in one of these fancy flats. There are 77 residences here (you’re looking at £10 million for three bedrooms, forget it), but also 50 hotel rooms. The look is exclusive, but the mood is friendly, and brings new life to an area where luxury retail has been decimated.

The Mandarin Oriental Mayfair is the work of British firm RSHP
The Mandarin Oriental Mayfair is the work of British firm RSHP - George Apostolidis

We may no longer have Fenwick (gutted) or Victoria’s Secret (good riddance), but we do now have a surprisingly boutique five-star hotel full of shimmering gold stripes, pistachio marble staircases, curved plywood flourishes and ceilings festooned with conceptual installations.

The doormen here are happy for you to take photos, and they’ve been given some of the most striking, appealing uniforms of any hospitality staff in the city – jackets and overcoats with panels of camel contrasting against black, reminiscent of late 1990s Alexander McQueen. I’d definitely wear them.

Rooms, which cost from £1,000 a night, come complete with neutral colour palettes
Rooms, which cost from £1,000 a night, come complete with neutral colour palettes - George Apostolidis

The fashion inside this building is quite something – everyone’s position is demarcated by outfit, from the runners in the restaurant who wear souvenir-style jackets with Japanese motif embroidered silk arms, to the women at reception in tailoring with kimono-slit sleeves and floral appliqué.

It also changes according to time of day – at breakfast, there are fresh off-white linen dresses on the way into the Akira Back restaurant in the basement. At night, they shift to black single-shouldered Halston-meets-RuPaul’s Drag Race maxi dresses. When you stay, you play dress-up too: there are towelling robes in the bathrooms, and indigo tie-dye cotton kimonos, but also colourful silk jacquard dressing gowns by New & Lingwood for those Noel Coward moments.

Inside the Mayfair Suite
Inside the Mayfair Suite - George Apostolidis

Of all the international hotel chains, the MO might be my favourite. Each hotel gives a sense of where it is. And as well as hammering home the Mayfair-ness with various amenities and services, the weighting of the place towards private flats works well – the longest pool in Mayfair is in the basement: a long black stretch of water, surrounded by an infinity of pod wall lights. There’s a state of the art gym next door.

The scale of the place, with short corridors and a low-key reception, differs from its behemoth sibling in Knightsbridge. If you want a swanky boutique hotel, this is the place for you. Rooms are expensively tasteful – the colour palette clings to beige and soft greens, with metallics and woods lifting it. Bed linen is dreamy, bathroom products are Natura Bissé, toilets are Japanese and hi-tech, and the lighting everywhere is flattering.

The new hotel is home to the longest pool in Mayfair
The new hotel is home to the longest pool in Mayfair - George Apostolidis

Vivienne Westwood’s atelier designed a motif of two dancers in the streets of W1 for a silk fan (the “I’m a fan” Mandarin branding is often wearingly omnipresent), on permanent display at the hotel. Replicas have been made from peanut-filled chocolate – the coolest version of the edible welcome amenity I have seen in a while.

When I visited, there was still construction work going on in a neighbouring building, which was clearly driving the Mandarin staff crazy. They are aiming for tranquillity for people who don’t baulk at paying £52 for a small plate of buttery turbot with green asparagus instead of the promised white. Drilling is grit in the oyster. But it should be done before you read this.

And the ABar Lounge and adjacent Akira Back Japanese restaurant should become a solid alternative to Roka and Nobu, hopefully without becoming too Novikov in terms of the crowd (the promise of a regular DJ doesn’t bode well). That turbot was good, and the wine list is excellent (I’m thrilled when a Montrachet is available by the glass).

F&B options include ABar Lounge and adjacent Akira Back
Dining and drinking options include ABar Lounge and adjacent Akira Back - George Apostolidis

The best thing I had was modest: a side of yuzu-glazed mushrooms. It’s so good they serve it at breakfast too, which is actually better than dinner – canelés, green hummus, pine nut and mushroom porridge, yuzu honey toast, and avocado with yuzu salt. Yuzu is a good friend to so many things, including my mouth.

You’ll spend £25 on avocado and poached eggs on toast here, but it’s a pleasurable way to burn money if you have it. Ditto with the spa. The highlight of my stay was a two-hour “Elegance of Mayfair” facial, using Swiss Perfection products, with electrical pulses and cryotherapy elements. It costs £440. Which is madness. But that’s close to what my electricity bill went up to every month last year. I like having lights on, but I absolutely love someone paying homage to my face for 120 minutes.

I’ll never be able to afford to live my life full time somewhere like the new Mandarin, so actually, it’s a bargain. Or so I’m telling myself.

Doubles from £1,000. Breakfast excluded (£40). 22 Hanover Square, London W1S 1JP (020 7889 8888; mandarinoriental.com