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Hotel Review: A night at The Mandrake

Nick Valentine Marvels at The Mandrake.

I have been promised a unique, immersive and truly unforgettable experience. As I enter the imposing entrance portal, I can already sense that I’m not going to be disappointed. The Mandrake, a 33-room hotel with three suites and an award-winning penthouse is situated in Fitzrovia to the north of Oxford Street, but the hustle and bustle of London’s busiest shopping street is soon left behind as you enter the lobby and soak up the beautifully designed, beatific, yet provocative surroundings.

The Mandrake aims to showcase art, culture, design and as such curates a talented rota of artists, performers and exhibitions for your entertainment. It really is a one-stop shop. Over the next 24 hours, my partner and I will drink, dine, dance and destress all under one roof.

But first, we are shown to our terraced room, overlooking the 1st-floor Jurema Terrace with its lush, hanging, indoor garden. There is a prevalence of exotic plants throughout the hotel’s central areas with even a greenhouse lounge where you can chill-out under the faux fur blankets and pretend you are in Costa Rica while sipping on an ethno-botanical cocktail.

A quick freshen-up and a guided tour of the hotel that takes in the Waeska bar with its quirky, surrealistic taxidermy, a private red drinking booth, a stand-alone library, a central courtyard with adjoining Yopo restaurant and an attached opulent private dining area. Then down to the basement and its Theatre room that can be hired for events and finally the Masha Hari chill-out area and mini boutique.

Suffice to say, we have built up quite a thirst on this illuminating trek, so we nimbly head back to the bar and I settle on a Voodoo 19, consisting of Ojo De Mias Mezcal Café, Frangelico, Baileys and maple syrup. It certainly jump-starts the heart. Mescals feature quite heavily here, so my partner dives in with a Mangosteen, with infused Silver Patron tequila, chipotle agave, jalapeno vinegar and grapefruit soda. A couple of Kir Royals to take the edge off and we are ready for dinner.

Yopo is presided over by Executive Chef George Scott-Toft and is South American influenced. The majority of the ingredients on the menu are sourced from small, ethical and sustainable growers. I start with Portland crab, gala apple, brioche and caviar. It’s exquisite. My vegan partner goes off-piste with sweet white and green asparagus, in a piquant spinach and garlic sauce. She is amazed that something so simple can taste so incredible and I have to agree as I tuck in too.

For a main, I opt for the line-caught roasted Cornish sea bass cooked over charcoal with roasted pineapple, grilled avocado and coriander rice with a side order of crushed Morghew Estate potato, parmesan and botargo. Once again, not overly complicated, but it is a heavenly assault on the palate. My partner chooses the roasted Roscoff onions, Romesco sauce, rocket and candied hazelnuts with garlic, rosemary and thyme, barbequed over charcoal, which she absolutely loves. For dessert, I force myself to try the Island Chocolate Royale with coffee and mescal ice cream. It’s rich, it’s fattening, it’s fantastic. My partner, satiated, politely declines.

Not only has the food been superb tonight, but the entertainment in the form of Josh Barry, who has an uncanny audio resemblance and a voice on a par with the artist formerly known as Terence Trent D’Arby, has royally poured the sherry on the cake. Oh and did I mention the life-size ostrich sculpture ‘Showgirl’ made from thrifted handbags, coats and shoes, created by Enrique Gomez De Molina, that takes centre stage at Yopo.

Yet there is still more to come as we head back to the bar for a nightcap or two. The friendly staff, a fine cocktail list and Waeska DJ Kalamo’s deep tribal house keep us drinking for a lot longer than anticipated. The cocktails are paired with various beautifully eccentric pieces of art behind the bar, so who am I to deny myself an art education. Eventually, we head up to our room. Heads slightly spinning.

A hangover-busting breakfast of avocado, poached egg and sourdough bread and granola, coconut yoghurt and blueberries respectively, a couple of espresso macchiato cappuccinos and it’s time for a mind and body detox.

A spiritual wellbeing concierge is on hand at The Mandrake to guide you through a list of treatments and activities that include Shamanic Healing, Chakra Healing, Sound Frequency Alignment, various forms of massage, Yin, restorative or Vinyasa yoga and our therapy of choice a Cosmic Gong Bath.

Joseph Evling-Taylor, co-founder of Urmi Sound Collective describes the ritual as an inquiry into the relationship between sound and our state of being which explores the way we are in exchange with vibration. Sound is applied in a therapeutic and contemplative context.

We lay down and then close our eyes in the darkened Penthouse suite. The nervous urge to start laughing luckily soon dissipates. A short explanation from Joseph of what is about to follow. We’re off. He slowly weaves a textured soundscape of quartz bowls, tuning forks and a giant gong to facilitate a restorative and introspective journey. At one stage the gong is so loud, with such a low frequency, that I feel like I’ve stuck my head inside the Tsar Bell. It is an intense and trance-inducing experience, though highly rewarding and leaves us both happily dazed and confused. We eventually shake ourselves back into a semi-conscious state and bid Joseph and The Mandrake Hotel a fond farewell.

As we stumble away from this divinely creative haven and out into the frenetic chaos of London’s West End it feels like landing on another planet. The Mandrake is truly a world unto itself and furthermore, a delightfully extraordinary one at that.






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