There are welcomes and welcomes when it comes to luxury hotels, and this, at Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, is one of the most imaginative – a non-alcoholic martini, with rose essence, lime juice and a floating rose petal. In fact the welcome was highlighted by the magnificent JoJo, above, a Chinese-Japanese who loves the 114-room hotel so much that she has been here since its opening September 2005. Talking at the regular morning meeting, indeed, the gal would say quite a lot of the 15 heads of department have been here for some time.
The rooms, however, have been tweaked. The original designer, Peter Remedios, has been replaced by Joyce Wang, who has done some clever things. Polished brass floral sprays stick out from some walls, as to the left of this photo. See also the chilled cabinet, to hold welcome fruit – yes, more welcome! – or Kaveri caviar, or cheese, or whatever. The cabinet has an integral drawer to hold a Patra plate, and cutlery. I like what she has done to the beds, putting in rounded headboards, with built-in fibre optic lights. Room 1014 has a central divider at right angles to the long closet: this divider opens both sides, and has plenty of flat space for an open suitcase.
And – this is special – the room came with a pair of Burberry trenchcoats, to use during my stay, and to buy if I so liked. Clever. I also had a Ronald Abram jewellery care kit. This is certainly fashion land. I looked out and down at, from left to right, Armani, St Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana, and Ermenegildo Zegna. The hotel is part of the Landmark complex, and you can go straight into the retail areas. No time for shopping on my part, but the spa was essential – I had a 90-minute Perfect Diamond Life Infusion, and if it did not quite make me look as vigorous as spa director Helena Almgren, I certainly felt better.
There is always something going on in this luxury hotel – Judith Hill gave a concert in its must-visit MObar (see the video). On my visit back here it was, as always, a treat to talk to Richard Ekkebus, who somehow manages to supervise the two-star Michelin Amber here, plus the food at Mandarin Oriental Shanghai (and he will also oversee another Mandarin Oriental luxury hotel, opening in Beijing Wangfujing). Sit at an Amber table, with its intriguing night light, and sculpted white china that Richard Ekkebus designed for Bernardaud. Start with Guinness bread and Bordier butter, go on to parsley root cooked in ash and salt, with shaved black winter truffle. Next could be veal sweetbread dusted with buckwheat flower and roasted crispy with capers, char-grilled and raw celtus with lardo di colonnata, toasted hazelnut fragments and toasted sourdough bread purée… what a way to end a day. Oh yes, and memorable conversations with Torsten van Dullemen, the would-be veterinarian who runs this hotel (he has four bikes and will take me out, next visit, cannot wait to return).