Hyde Park Hotel

Mandarin Oriental's London renovation

Venerable but tired—that was the feeling about the century-old Hyde Park Hotel before Mandarin Oriental took it over and shut it down last year for a $68 million renovation. The marble would undoubtedly gleam once it reopened but what would it be like? The answer, as revealed in May when the finished product was unveiled, is a hotel version of Asian fusion—the service is modeled on the consummate, enveloping style practiced in Mandarin's home continent, performed by Asian desk staff and English butlers. The design is restrained country-house English with a few Asian accents thrown in (the exceptions: the Mandarin Bar and Foliage restaurant designed by Adam Tihany in slick, frosted glass and leather, international-style).

Generally, the East-West mix works. The room decor is elegant if safe, done in mostly earth tones. Favorite room: the ninth-floor Brompton suite—a handsome octagonal-shaped room with a rich, burgundy-and-marigold color scheme—even though it's on the city side, with views into Harvey Nichols' fifth-floor windows. Best rooms for the park view: 18-24 series.The staff is cosseting, which was discovered when the usual gamut of new-hotel technological breakdowns hit on one visit: the lights and air conditioning went off in the room. But one aspect of the hotel was perfect all the way through—the Irish linen sheets, impossible to leave in the morning, familiar to those who've stayed in the group's Hong Kong hotel. $420-$4,290. 66 Knightsbridge, London; 800-526-6566; 44-20-7235-2000; fax 44-20-7235-4552.

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