The mere act of striding into the marbled, carpeted, chandeliered landing of Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong always serves as a distinguished harbinger for something extraordinary to come. It might be an in-and-out pitstop for the incomparable 1963 Mandarin Cheesecake. Or a practiced serve from the hands of Devender Sehgal at The Aubrey. Or a limb-bending, 90-minute massage scented with eucalyptus and lavender and frankincense. Or, better yet, it could be all of the above, plus a night spent with mouths agape — no, really — in the hotel’s Mandarin Suite.
The Mandarin Suite — Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong’s equivalent of a presidential suite — is the kind of place you can easily imagine rock stars, foreign dignitaries and black turtleneck-clad tech bros lavishly, indulgently, sumptuously existing. To say it’s over-the-top is to be acutely blasé, because it’s not over-the-top. It’s simply an existence so stratospherically beyond anything remotely mortal a one-night stay felt almost like an out-of-body experience.
But it’s there, it exists. And if you have a cool HK$88,000 (plus 10% service charge) to spare, the suite can be yours for a night of utter, utter decadence.
The Mandarin Suite at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
There’s nowhere more centrally located than Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong. It’s, quite literally, smack-dab in the centre of Central, at the edge of Statue Square and a stone’s throw (a pebble’s throw) away from everything Hong Kong’s bustling city centre has to offer. SoHo, a few minutes walk away; the ifc mall, a few minutes walk away; the Star Ferry, with connection to the other side of the harbour, a few minutes walk away; the MTR, with connection to everywhere else in Hong Kong, a few minutes walk away.
The lavish, old school charm of the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong’s singular interiors experience is alive and well in the Mandarin Suite, with the hotel’s signature palette of dark woods, onyx marble and lush Chinoiserie accents working overtime within the 357 square-metre space. From a duo of Gerard D’A Henderson murals hung eye-to-eye in the suite’s living room to a framed Qing Dynasty court robe spotlit in the entertainment nook, the priceless artefacts that exist within the Mandarin Suite conjure up a stage seemingly pulled from, possibly, the pages of a storybook about aristocracy; about heritage; about honour. If you’re not quite into this genre of architecture, Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong’s Lichfield Suite is distinctly modern in decor.
Although perhaps anachronistic by design, the Mandarin Suite is not without the latest state-of-the-art convenience, with Bang and Olufsen tech, Bose speakers and touch-screen activated curtains upgrading the room. Though, still no smart TV with immediate access to the creature comforts of a Netflix portal, but I’ve been assured Apple TVs are on hand — just ask the concierge.
Entrance into the Mandarin Suite involves ambling through an extra-large hotel-room door, accented with brass-tone rivets and a door knocker you’d likely find at the gates of a particularly well-kept temple. Because of course, no humdrum door for the Mandarin Suite. Then, inside, a black-marbled, spotlit landing takes you immediately towards the space’s money shot: the soaring, double-height ceilings — against a crystal chandelier, naturally — that force your gaze across the AIA ferris wheel, across the Victoria Harbour, right to the very scenic blueprint that makes Hong Kong, Hong Kong.
To the right, a study-slash-entertainment room complete with a plushy couch and flat-screen television (“For the kids so the adults can play outside,” said Vera Harrison, Guest Relations Manager who led the tour of the suite. Yes, the suite is big enough for its own tour) and to the right of that, a walk-in closet that serves, too, as a walkway and the master bedroom, which looks out onto Statue Square. And further yet houses the most decadent bathroom with double sinks, a sauna and a mother-of-pearl tiled bathtub that really shouldn’t be called a bathtub. Call it a jacuzzi. Call it a paddling pool. Call it a plunge piscina. Anything but a bathtub! Then, one last room: a spa corner, complete with a duo of massage tables at the ready. And this is just the right side of the suite.
To the left from where we began: a bar nook, then a conference-slash-dining room with a table as long as the room itself, then, a full-sized kitchen, nudged to the left. Here was where my tour ended, because what more could there be, but upon scrutinising the floor-plan, it was revealed: I’ve missed an entire living room, a second bedroom and its en-suite bathroom at the very left-most corner of the suite. Again: I’ve missed the square-footage equivalent of a Hong Kong-sized apartment, because I could not fathom — surrounded by surely the most gregarious display of excess I’ve ever encountered — that there could be more. But there is more. HK$88,000 plus ten-percent service charge a night more. More is more is more in the Mandarin Suite.
Service & Facilities: 10/10
Mandarin Oriental’s sheer wealth of outposts for everything and anything that could possibly hold your attention plays a crucial part to the MO experience, as intended to be experienced. In fact, Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong feels almost like a campus-of-sorts; somewhere you go, stay, indulge and explore — from ground floor and up to the topmost twenty-fifth, with a salon, a gentlemen’s barbershop, a myriad of curated experiences and an indoor pool to boot.
But let’s talk about the twenty-fourth floor with some specificity, because the Intelligent Movement Treatment I had at the Mandarin Spa deserves at least a hefty chunk of my existing word count. Devout not-really-a-massage-person, the 90-minute Intelligent Treatment massage I received manoeuvred something intrinsic within my being; enlightened in me an “Ah, this is why people do this” moment that moved my muscles, my limbs and, well, my brain.
The Intelligent Movement Treatment, a worldwide program launched just this month for Global Wellness Day, is an innovative wellness program that uses teachings from the elite coaches of Hong Kong’s Joint Dynamics to really aim at addressing the mobility and postural issues that unfortunately plague most desk-sitting professionals like you, presumably reading this hunched over a phone, and me, definitely writing this hunched over a laptop.
“Over the past few years and with the influx of technology we see many of our guests coming into our spas and fitness centres with the same general issues of posture and lack of mobility,” says Andrea Lomas-Gong, Head of Group Spa Operations at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. “Most of our guests have a head forward posture from looking down at screens, internally rotated shoulders from too much keyboard use, tight hips and lower back pain from too much sitting. Intelligent Movement addresses these issues in a comprehensive yet personalised, approach.”
The massage itself began with a consultation with my massage therapist about existing stress zones and my preferences for either Mandarin Oriental oils: “Awaken”, a grounding combination of neroli, lavender and mandarin; or “Release”, uplifting with frankincense, clary sage and eucalyptus. (I went with Awaken.) A single ring of a bell signalled the start of the massage, and, then, deep, grounding breaths scented with eucalyptus exhale as an ellipsis. The classic push and pull of an oil-laced massage follows, with attention centred on my shoulders (where I said I was most stressed); the back; the sides of my torso; along my legs. The treatment continued with a gentle drumming along where I’m most tense with an impressive percussive tool by Hyperice and several limb-bending stretches as a finale flourish.
Food & Drink: 10/10
If you can dream it, you can eat it (drink it, too) at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong. Your choices, myriad and diverse, are as follows: Mandarin Bar + Grill (where we went for a Sustainable Seafood dinner), Man Wah, The Aubrey, The Krug Room, Café Causette, Clipper Lounge, The Chinnery, Captain’s Bar and, if your stay includes it, all-day dining at The Mandarin Club. And, of course, in-room dining.
But beyond a simple, albeit delicious, meal, Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong has on its payroll a whole host of experts excited to serve, and also excited to educate.
Every Saturday for the month of June, The Aubrey’s Head Sommelier Justin Ng is hosting a Riesling Masterclass. The amount of time it takes to swirl, sniff, sip and savour — yes, Ng has divulged this is the correct etiquette for tasting wine; no chugs, you’re at the Mandarin Oriental — five glasses of Riesling is just the correct amount of time to be whisked away on a whirlwind tour of the flavours, the notes, the German vineyards, the difference between Kabinette and Spätlese and everything else even tangentially relevant to a perfectly crisp pour of Riesling. No promises you’ll retain anything by the end of the masterclass — unless you’re very good and take very small sips — but you’ll definitely be able to say: I took a masterclass on German Rieslings at Mandarin Oriental. There are izakaya morsels curated to pair with each pour, but try not to come on too much of an empty stomach.
And if you miss out on Riesling, Ng also hosts masterclasses on Champagne.
FINAL RATING: 9.5/10
PERFECT FOR: Those looking to splash out on something indelibly once-in-a-lifetime. Unless you’re of the rock-star variety, in which case, carry on.
Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road Central, Hong Kong, +852 2522 0111