Home' Get Up and Go : Winter 2015 Contents 26 GetUp&Go
he Thames is the new battlefront
in London’s glamorous world of
five star hotels: to the north are
the iconic establishments that for
decades have been home to the world’s
beautiful people; to the south are the
glittering new kids on the block.
Typical of the city’s old versus new
combatants are the idyllic Mandarin
Oriental, offering gracious hospitality
in a 125-year-old building in perhaps
the most fashionable square mile in the
world, and the eye-opening Shangri-La
across the river in the Shard building – a
shining glass and steel needle recognised
as western Europe’s tallest building.
At the Mandarin Oriental there’s a
constant battle to look after the stately
Victorian building, but it comfortably
maintains its position as a major player
in the quest to attract leisure and business
travellers. Culinary celebrities such as
Heston Blumenthal and New York ace
Daniel Boulud strengthen the hotel’s
armoury, helped by the new Rosebery
champagne/afternoon tea lounge and the
decadent spa, pool and fitness centre.
Suites here take in views of Hyde Park
at the rear or Knightsbridge to the front,
with the ab-fab Harvey Nichols store
front and centre and tantalising glimpses
of Harrods, Sloane Street and the Old
Brompton Road to the right.
But if views are what you’re after,
you’ll head for 31 St Thomas Street in
Southwark, a place once approached
with some caution as one of London’s
less salubrious areas. As you look out
from the 40th or 50th floors of Shangri-
La to the left you’re looking over the
London Eye, Houses of Parliament and
Buckingham Palace. Straight ahead and
you see St Paul’s Cathedral; to your right
are the Tower of London, Tower Bridge
and Greenwich. Now that’s a view!
Shangri-La has glass, metal and next
generation gadgetry. Blinds go up and
down with the flick of a switch, or even
when directed by London’s odd moment
of glaring sun. Beds feature body-
contouring technology and the marble-
clad bathrooms have heated floors.
Just a few kilometres separate the two
hotels, yet they are poles apart in their
appeal to the lover of luxury. Mandarin
Oriental is the Dux of the Old School that
includes such venerables as Brown’s, Ritz,
Claridges and Savoy; Shangri-La is the
cool leader of the new set that includes the
massive Mondrian, the Bankside Hilton and
others soon to come on the South Bank.
So, how do the tried-and-true favourites
fight for the traveller’s dollar in the face
of ultra modern chic? Mandarin Oriental
operations director Christoph Mares says
there is no substitute for experience: good
hotels are synonymous with good, well
“Of course, you can’t rely solely on
these factors, which is why we have
partnerships with two of the world’s
great chefs and why we are so fortunate
to be in the epicentre of London’s most
But there’s one thing that can’t be
denied: Shangri-La can look down on
every hotel in London. •
• Rooms at Shangri-La start at around
$691 per night in low season; Mandarin
Oriental around $681.
• [@] www.shangri-la.com/london/
• [@] www.mandarinoriental.com/london
Paul Edwards was a guest at each hotel and
flew to London with Singapore Airlines.
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IN LONDON, OLD VERSUS NEW MEANS NORTH VERSUS SOUTH.
PAUL EDWARDS REPORTS.
Always elegant Mandarin Oriental.
Imposing Mandarin Oriental.
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