‘It doesn’t even feel like we’re in London!’ my friend exclaimed, as I showed her around the jungle-like innards of The Mandrake Hotel in Fitzrovia.
If you’ve never set foot in this salubrious lair then I encourage you to, especially if you’re looking for a bit of escapism in these testing times!
I ventured to the tucked-away spot on a Monday afternoon, a few weeks after it reopened.
Before I could enter the building my temperature had to be checked and luckily I passed the test.
On walking down the pitch-black entranceway and down the inky corridor, it’s like meandering into another world.
The lobby oozes grown-up luxury, with double-height ceilings, swathes of velvet and a seductive scent in the air.
The receptionist Sarah was very friendly, and she told me that things were slowly picking up but the bar on the ground floor – where they make a great martini – was not fully open.
She gave me a key to my room, number 24, and I was led by one of her colleagues to my room on the second floor. There are six room categories and I opted for the ‘Newman’, aimed at ‘the eternally stylish tribe’.
Stepping out of the elevator I saw a gardener on a ladder, attentively clipping away at one of The Mandrake’s most stunning features; A dripping cascade of passion fruit plants.
The vines drip down and line the inside walls of the hotel, stretching from the roof right down to the open-air terrace, where there is a bar and restaurant with giant fern trees continuing the tropical vibe.
Giving the gardener a hello as he plucked one of the passion fruits from its vine, I continued snaking along a corridor to my room.
The rooms at The Mandrake are perfectly appointed, think classic luxury combined with modern chic, with a splash of naughtiness thrown in for good measure.
Two Venetian masks teetered on top of the wardrobes and I discovered that a studded leather box at the end of the metal fourposter bed secreted a television. This could be operated by a small remote control attached to a tasselled leather keyring.
There are a few small additions in the times of Covid-19, including hand sanitizer by the bedside along with a plastic card showing a QR code with all of the room service and mini-bar prices being displayed.
Along with a smart little mini bar area, other amenities in the spacious room included a Marshall speaker sound system, an ironing kit, slippers, a safe and a nice little spread of reading materials.
I love a good hotel robe and couldn’t find any in the wardrobe or in the cavernous marble-clad bedroom but after calling down to reception, two were swiftly delivered to the door.
Another thing that is worth checking out at The Mandrake is the wellness package. Unfortunately, I had a bit of a hectic schedule after it being my first visit to London since the lockdown, so I couldn’t make any of the sessions but Sarah the receptionist told me how magical they are. The crystal healing session has proved particularly popular.
After having a soak in the bathtub and indulging in some of the heavenly scented Grown Alchemist products, I wound myself down to The Mandrake’s outdoor terrace, which is truly a beautiful space.
YOPO AT JUREMA TERRACE
I was joined by two friends, and due to a spot of rain, we took a seat in one of the private cabanas which come complete with a private bathroom, a TV, sound system and potted palm trees to bring a bit of the outdoors inside.
The menu leaves you spoiled for choice, with a mouthwatering mix of tapas-style dishes, blending Mediterranean with South American cuisine.
My recommendations on the lunch menu include the plump Ostra Regal Oysters, mountainous dish of Casanova Olives and a moreish pile of Padron peppers.
For something a bit meatier tuck into the octopus empanadas or the fried fish tacos.
Be sure to leave some room for dessert.
There are only two choices on the sweet menu but I recommend having a nibble of both.
The creamy sorrel sorbet with raspberries and fennel has a truly unique flavour that will get you digging in for more, while the biscuity Alfajores contain a delectable whip of salted caramel spread which will get you licking your lips for every last crumb.
On the drinks side of things, The Mandrake rustles up a fine spread of cocktails which are worth checking out.
We loved the Jalapeno containing a refreshing blend of Casamigos Blanco Tequila, Jalapeño Vinegar, Chipotle and Pink Grapefruit.
If whisky is your thing, be sure to order the Japanese-inspired Shiso, with a heady mix of Suntory Toki Whisky, Yuzu Sake, Green Chartreuse, Shiso Cordial and Merchant’s Ginger Ale.
I left The Mandrake for a business dinner that evening but returned later in the night to roll into the giant king-sized bed with a friend for a bit of an old school girl’s slumber party-turned grown up.
I slept like a dream in the room and the temperature controlling was the best I’d encountered in a long while, with fresh air filtering around.
The room was also very quiet despite being on the roadside thanks to well-soundproofed windows.
Don’t leave the Mandrake without doing breakfast in bed.
After phoning down to reception with our order, two men arrived with a giant wooden tray containing our morning feast.
We lifted two silver lids to find perfectly cooked fried eggs, a sunny mix of exotic fruit and a yoghurt-granola medley.
My friend Penny had never done breakfast in bed but I think she was certainly a convert after her experience at The Mandrake.
After another soak in the tub, it was time to check out.
It’s definitely hard to prize yourself away from The Mandrake’s seductive cocoon.
This is certainly a spot for a bit of escapism, with passionfruits, giant ferns, top quality service and delicious fodder transporting you to a delightful little world.
The Mandrake is located at 20-21 Newman Street, London W1T 1PG
To book a room call +44 (0)203 146 7770 or visit www.themandrake.com