Mandeville is one of those surnames strongly evocative of nobility, much like Montagu or Cavendish, but while the latter two aristocratic names have their own eponymous garden squares in London’s Marylebone, there is no such Mandeville equivalent.
There is, however, just off Marylebone High Street, the Georgian-era Manchester Square named after the Duke of Manchester, who also went by Viscount Mandeville. This name was then given to the contiguous 18th century-built Mandeville Place, and finally to the Mandeville Hotel, which takes pride of place on this quiet, stately street: a veritable oasis from the nearby Oxford and Bond Streets, which are a few minutes’ walk away but very much out of earshot.
The first thing that strikes you about the hotel is its impressive kerbside appeal: a converted row of red-brick townhouses with large Union Jacks waving in the breeze above the grand entrance. A picture of imposing Victorian grandeur still holding firm.
Once you’re through the front doors, however, that appearance gives way to a much more contemporary and boutiquey ambiance, encompassing quirky artwork, retro furnishings and a reception centrepiece of a masked teddy bear in an oversized toy car. It all manages to strike just the right balance of aesthetic contrast, something other hotels of similar historical ilk often struggle with when attempting to modernise.
Take the lift to the fifth floor, where I stayed on my visit, and you’ll find the artistic boldness dialled up to eleven – the entire floor having been redecorated in an audacious collaboration with French fashion designer Christian Lacroix. The corridors and redesigned ‘Riviera Rooms’ are a kaleidoscope of vibrant colours, elaborate design motifs and statement furnishings. It might not be to every guest’s taste but, to these eyes, it is a welcome divergence from the more prevalent neutral palette of so many luxury hotels.
The room I’ve been allocated – the ‘Jardin Exotique’ – is a dramatic showpiece themed on the French Riviera: some walls are decked in an “Exo-Chic’ palm tree-print, other in deckchair and Breton stripes, while there are also several striking Julian Chichester pineapple lamps, in a nod to the Botanical Gardens of Monaco. You certainly won’t find many similar hotel bedrooms in this part of the capital.
Despite the Mandeville’s central London location, the fifth-floor location of the room means outside noise remains at a minimum, so you can keep your window wide open if preferring fresh air to air-con. Elsewhere, the remaining 142 rooms are decorated and furnished in a comparatively more classic, less extravagant style than the Rivieras. Judge from the pictures where your preference lies.
For those seeking the best room in the house, the Terrace Suite, spread over the top two floors of the hotel, is an exceptional option for celebrities or business guests who prefer the privacy and exclusivity of a penthouse apartment. It even offers a private roof terrace with views taking in the BT Tower, the nearby Georgian Hinde Street Methodist Church and the rooftops of Marylebone.
When it comes to dining, the in-house restaurant – Reform Social and Grill – takes its inspiration from traditional British gentlemen’s clubs, with mahogany tables, copper walls and plush leather banquettes, and a menu that is more homely and time-honoured than haute cuisine. Expect dishes like slow-roasted lamb shank, flat-iron steak and beer-battered fish and chips, with chocolate fondant and mixed berry cheesecake for dessert. An intimate courtyard patio area also offers al fresco dining options, which is a pleasant touch in warmer months.
Location-wise, The Mandeville is hard to beat, with the bustling retail thoroughfares of Bond Street and Oxford Street to one side and the popular dining and drinking hub of St Christopher’s Place and more trendy and boutique urban village of Marylebone on the other.
Art lovers will also be in their element in this part of town, with the hidden jewel that is the Wallace Collection only a couple of minutes’ walk away, plus a plethora of Mayfair’s more contemporary art galleries within strolling distance on the other side of Oxford Street. Of course, choose a Riviera room and you needn’t leave your suite in search of fine art – you’ll be sleeping in it.
Rates at The Mandeville Hotel, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, start from £115 per room per night, with the Riviera Rooms starting from £189. Visit mandeville.co.uk.