In a constantly-changing world, London's Mandarin Oriental reassures by appearing to be totally constant. This is, of course, an illusion - even the name of this august old lady of Knightsbridge has changed, and the restaurants and bars have been in constant flux in response to fashion. No more than you'd expect from a hotel with Madonna's seal of approval.
But the property formerly known as the Hyde Park Hotel remains its old self in structure, with monumental Victorian architecture. However, get beyond the marble halls and grand staircase leading up from a discreet lobby bang opposite Harvey Nicks, and it becomes far more user-friendly. Corridors are positively homey, with carpets whose style suggests an aristocratic country house. Even the rooms are rather country house hotel, but also sumptuous, with park views to die for down one side. Exceptionally spacious, too, with huge, draped beds, giant flat-screen TVs, armchairs and mirrored wardrobes. White marble bathrooms have vast tubs and rainfall showers, and many might feel the generous size Jo Malone toiletries in the suites worth paying an extra £70 a night for - along with the extra 161 sq ft of space.
New York's French superstar chef, Daniel Boulud's new Bar Boulud is gaining the hotel much attention and that will intensify when Heston Blumenthal opens his restaurant in November. Breakfast chez Boulud has some real treats, like home-made granola and exemplary pastries.
The spa - open from 7am to 10pm - is a star in its own right.
RATES: from £270
TEL: 0207 201 3773