The Landmark Mandarin is a luxurious oasis in the middle of Central Hong Kong. With only 113 rooms and suites, it is a boutique hotel with the service and amenities of a large luxury hotel. It was rated No. 1 in the 2012 World’s Best Hotels list by Institutional Investors.
Unlike its traditional older sister, the Mandarin Oriental, it is modern and sleek but with all the comforts of a well-appointed home. Every aspect is designed for a pure sensory indulgence. Though it is seven years old (unlike its 50-year-old sister) it remains fresh and very updated.
Designed by Adam Tihany and Peter Remedios, the hotel’s main entrance from Queens Road central is very discreet, and its secondary entrance from the Landmark mall is strategically placed.
At the main entrance, Tihany designed an abstract boat-like feature, inspired by the classic Hong Kong sailing junk, that flanks the main staircase. The use of luxurious materials to shape the iconic hull of a Chinese junk pays homage to current trade and fashion. The seating area at the lobby is intimate and cozy, surrounded by bookshelves with books on art and lifestyle.
The standard rooms are an average size of 50-55 sq m. Very large by Hong Kong standards. The five types of standard rooms go up to 60 sq m—a luxury in this place.
The Landmark suite is the only type of suite other than the Presidential suite. With a 83-sq-m footprint, it has the feel of a spacious, graciously appointed apartment. The Presidential suite, on the other hand, is luxurious and elegant but low-key, with a private spa/massage room.
The Joe Malone toiletries in lime, basil and mandarin scents are a delight.
The Oriental Spa is located on two floors of the hotel. It features calming and relaxing natural materials such as bamboo, natural stone and wood. The 25,000-sq-ft spa offers a comprehensive range of health, beauty and massage treatments, with signature treatments created exclusively for Mandarin Oriental. Therapists at the Oriental Spa are trained in the finest ancient traditions of Chinese, European and Thai cultures.
The Oriental Spa offers an indoor heated swimming pool; yoga, pilates, expansive heat experience area featuring Hamam, Laconium, Rasul, Zen relaxation room; and a state-of-the-art gymnasium. A full pilates studio with private classes is offered. According to general manager Greg Liddell, new signature spa treatments will be available this coming June 2013.
If the Chinese have the Shanghainese Pedicure, the French have Bastien, as created by Bastien Gonzalez. The philosophy is the complete opposite of the Shanghainese pedicure, but it still leaves you with squeaky clean hands and feet. It is a dry pedicure with equipment rivaled by those used in auto detailing shops—in miniature versions, of course, and requiring extreme care and precision.
The highly focused massage aims to offer optimum mobility, skin elasticity and the highly effective re-plumbing of the fatty cushions in the feet and hands.
For your first treatment, try Albin Brion, the studio manager and podiatrist. Not only is he skilled, he is also the most charming and pleasant pedicurist you will find.
By the left side of the hotel lobby is the very cool and luxe MO Bar. The lighted red circle, the “big O”—a Chinese symbol for shared experience—is a prominent design element. The bar is a place to see and be seen for breakfast, lunch and cocktails.
Comfort food offered here includes fish and chips, teriyaki wagyu burger, Hainan chicken rice and signature drinks like Rose Petal Martini. The lobster lunch on Sundays is a bestseller. I didn’t try the Jimmy Choo afternoon tea, but I hear the faux shoes are cute and delicious.
What boutique hotel has a two-star Michelin Restaurant? Well, up on the seventh floor of the Landmark Mandarin is the Amber Restaurant run by chef Richard Ekkebus. He can prepare a 14-course degustation meal, and his resto has been recognized by San Pellegrino as one of the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants.” Amber continues to be the only restaurant in the Greater China region to appear in the top 50 rating.
I strongly recommend the degustation menu with wine and sake pairings. The cuisine’s complex, innovative flavors derive from French and Japanese influences. And the pairings are so well-thought-through. The most unforgettable are the cauliflower velouté with egg sabayon, lobster jell-o with cauliflower caviar seaweed waffles, ebisu oyster and “melt-in-your-mouth” Kagoshima wagyu beef.
The bar’s interiors are spacious and gives the subtle feel of being in a luxury sailing vessel, with its 4,320 golden hanging rods. I guess it carries through from the “Chinese junk” theme at the lobby.
Clearly what the Mandarin Oriental began 50 years ago—commitment to the highest standards of luxury in service and aesthetics—is being carried on by its younger sister, the Landmark Mandarin. Yes, the fruit doesn’t fall too far from the tree.