Tried & Tested

Hotel review: The Mandrake, London

31 Aug 2020 by Tom Otley
Reception at the Mandrake, London

BACKGROUND

The Mandrake opened in September 2017 and is owned by Rami Fustok. It reopened on July 4 and I stayed a couple of weeks later. Covid-19 precautions were in place.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

Very discreet – if you didn’t know the address, you’d struggle to guess that there was a boutique hotel behind the façade of what must once have been a mansion block apartment building. The hotel’s restaurant (closed at the time but since reopened) has its own entrance, and you exited the building via this door to ensure one-way traffic. I was subjected to a quick temperature check and then walked down a dark corridor to the double-height reception.

The interiors are striking, with design studio Tala Fustok (the owner’s sister) aiming to create “spaces that seamlessly reflect the opulence of Paris alongside the eccentricities of London”. What that means is “jewel-toned velvets, gilded mirrors and metallic coffee tables with drape curtains and curvaceous wing chairs”, along with dark paint tones and “vintage panel screens covered with lush botanical prints”. I’d arrived too early for my room, and perhaps too early for the vibe, which I appreciated much more when I returned in the evening.

WHERE IS IT?

On Newman Street in Fitzrovia, north of Oxford Street and about a five-minute walk from Tottenham Court Road Tube station. It is a quiet street for such a central location.

ROOMS

The hotel has 34 rooms, including three suites and a penthouse. All have good soundproofing, free wifi and safes. Entry-level Mandrake rooms are 22 sqm, followed by Newman rooms at 33 sqm. I stayed in the Newman junior suite, a lovely room with a large bathroom that had a roll-top tub at its centre as well as a separate shower. I was warned that if I pressed a button then the opaque glass wall by the shower would turn transparent, and if the occupant of the neighbouring Terrace suite did the same then we would be able to watch each other shower. I chose to have a bath.

The lighting system completely defeated me, although there was at least a master switch by the bed. Standard rooms are better-lit, and if you are staying for work are a better choice since they have desks, which the Newman suite doesn’t. Rooms now have QR code coasters on the tables to scan for the minibar prices. Magazines remain in the rooms, thank goodness.

A room at the Mandrake, London

FOOD AND DRINK

Waeska bar is gorgeous and features modern art. When I stayed, Yopo restaurant had closed its ground-floor space and instead was serving outdoors on the first-floor Jurema terrace. The menu is South American and has plenty of choice. The terrace is impressive, turning what would be simply the courtyard into an almost tropical place (aided by a soundtrack in the morning of birds and bees). One side of the courtyard is open, with the other three featuring iron balconies clad in greenery. From the terrace you can see the top of two mature Tasmanian ferns that are the centrepiece of the ground-floor terrace below, which is connected to the lobby and bar. It really is an oasis in the middle of London. The staff are excellent.

MEETINGS

There is a large room for gatherings called Masha Hari, where meditative and healing events also occur.

LEISURE

The hotel takes its name from the medicinal plant, the mandrake, and places an emphasis on “healing, positive energies and intrigue”. I don’t know what this means, but there was the offer of a 30-minute guided meditation on the terrace at 8am (I didn’t sign up).

VERDICT

Superb service and design make the Mandrake a unique place to stay.

FACT FILE

  • BEST FOR Getting away from it all – and perhaps discovering a new personality – in the centre of town
  • DON’T MISS A drink at the bar, then relaxing in the courtyard under the Tasmanian ferns and telling yourself you’re still in London
  • PRICE Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in November started from £380 for a Mandrake room
  • CONTACT 20-21 Newman Street; tel +44 (0)20 3146 7770; themandrake.com
A bathroom at the Mandrake, London
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Cover of November 2020 - January 2021 edition of Business Traveller
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