Nestled in the busy business shopping district of Tianhe is the recently opened Mandarin Oriental Guangzhou which is also the first MO property in the mainland. It was my first experience at a Mandarin Oriental property, and I was not sure what to expect; the building’s shiny glass facade strongly hinted at just another modern hotel. But during my three-day stay, I realized that it is one of those few places which beautifully blends design, tradition, and services in a way that made us go ‘Wow’.
First impressions –
Catching our eye on entering the compact lobby was a dry white tree that looked more like an artpiece. Next to it is the hotel’s signature fan which is designed by Vivienne Tam a resident of Guangzhou and one of the hotel’s many celebrity fans or ambassadors.
The lobby is minimalistic in design yet very inviting.
As the front desk confirmed our reservation, we were offered traditional Chinese tea, after which a friendly staffer accompanied us to our Club Premier suite on the 14th floor for in-room check-in.
Rooms / Accommodation –
The 1200 square feet (120 sq/m) Club Premier suite is one of the larger suites in the offering, second only to the Presidential or the Mandarin suite. Having a unique layout, the suite began with a foyer that leads to the main living area, and on the right were the bathroom, wardrobe and the bedroom. Like the hotel lobby the design and the decor was a fusion of traditional and modern Chinese elements. The long bathroom foyer was designed on the lines of a traditional Chinese courtyard with wooden flooring lit up by lantern-shaped lights. For discerning guests wanting some privacy, there is a Valet box, a compartment that has another door in the hallway, so that room service can access it without entering the room. If something is dropped in an indicator would light up, and for something to be picked up, just press the valet switch; very convenient for newspapers, laundry, shoe service etc. Tucked away inside the valet box is a stylish Mandarin Oriental umbrella for mid-afternoon or rainy strolls.
The living area was extremely spacious and naturally lit with floor-to-ceiling windows. Facing the 46-inch Sony LED TV was a comfortable couch and a square leather seat which also doubled as a leg rest. Waiting for us on the dining table was a fresh fruit plate, a bottle of wine, a personalized welcome note from the hotel manager, and the hotel’s signature hand fan. Tucked away neatly into the cabinet was a well-stocked minibar, Nespresso coffee machine and a rather cute and compact bone China tea set.
Subtle yet contrasting hues, elegant, minimalist, and yet functional, it seemed as if Apple had designed our suite.
Larger than a standard hotel room, the bedroom was equally spacious and offered panoramic views of the shopping district and Taikoo Hui’s rooftop gardens. In the center was an extremely comfortable King bed draped in 480 thread count linens. To its left was a tall, dark leather chair apt for some creative thinking while looking like a Bond villain. Tucked away neatly behind the half partition is a small table with two sofa chairs, making it perfect for morning tea or some evening drinks in the comfort of the bedroom.
The spa-inspired bathroom is divided into wet and dry rooms on either side. On the left was the well-lit dry room. Separate wash basins are common in luxury hotels, but the Mandarin Oriental Guangzhou takes it up a notch. Specially for the ladies is an over-the-counter round metal basin, whereas the men can make use of the more traditional sunk-in wash basin. On the other side, the wet room had a shower cubicle and a large soaking tub.
Wooden flooring, premium British fittings, and luxurious Aqua Di Parma toiletries make for an almost perfect bathroom.
The bathroom was undoubtedly one of the best I have ever seen, and its perfection is only hampered by the lack of a TV in it.
Oriental Club Lounge –
Perched on the 24th floor and offering some excellent views of the city is the Oriental Club Lounge. Like other hotel chains, the Club lounge had a balanced mix of compact and larger areas along with shelves of coffee table books, magazines, and newspapers. But it was in the food offerings where the similarity ended; unlike others the Oriental Club had a very rich spread which is further complimented with a live table for some fresh bread and salad preparations. I was in a fix between a cocktail and a beer, but nothing beats some pizza and a chilled Tsing Tao beer after a hot day of sightseeing. Like the rest of the hotel, the staff is very attentive and courteous. The lounge also serves breakfast, but we enjoyed ours at Ebony, the hotel’s Western restaurant. With daily breakfast, round-the-clock beverages, evening cocktails, and canapes, a Club room or suite is worth every dollar.
Jiang is the hotels Cantonese restaurant. At a lunch, we decided to try out Chef Fei’s fusion of modern cooking and traditional presentation. As we sat in one of the private enclosures, it was evident that the restaurant was very popular among the locals. Cantonese cuisine is on the bland side, and for an Indian palate, it can be exceptionally bland. To satisfy our longing for something spicy, the chef made us some fried tofu which was to be had by dipping in a spicy yet equally zingy powder. We loved it; the chef also sent us a small bottle of zingy powder to take home. For dessert, we had the equally interesting and delectable poached choy sum and black fungus in spring water.
Food and drink –
Ebony, the hotel’s main restaurant, is where the fabulous breakfast spread is served. We found plenty of choices American, Chinese, Continental, Japanese; you name it. Waiters were always smiling, attentive and would place your request and collect the dish from the open kitchen in a jiffy. Being summers, we preferred to stay indoors, but the tables in the lush garden outside would have been an ideal choice if the weather permitted. The highlight here for me was a Barista which is extremely rare for a breakfast buffet, and needless to say, he did blend the perfect latte. On our day of arrival, we had a late lunch at Ebony; the food here was spot on no matter what we tried. But probably what stole the show was the special veg mini burgers that the chef specially made for us. As the pesto lingered on our palates, our waiter got a large dessert trolley filled with chocolates, cupcakes, macaroons, and pastries from the Mandarin cake shop.
Loft bar – For whiskey and cigar connoisseurs, there is the Loft. An intimate wine and whiskey bar which has an impressive collection of limited and edition and aged spirits.
The wellness area has a fully equipped gym with personal trainers available on request. On the sundeck is the outdoor pool; although a bit compact it makes for a refreshing dip.
Located on the same level is the Spa, which offers a variety of signature treatments and massages. I indulged in one of their signature treatments – ‘City Garden’ a 150-minute journey of relaxation, which I shall be describing in length in a separate review later.
If macaroons, delectable handmade chocolates, pastries, and cupcakes are your thing, then I highly recommend the Mandarin cake shop.
The hotel is directly connected to one of the city’s largest malls, the Tai Koo Hui Mall, and the Shipaiqiao Station, line 3 of the city’s highly efficient Metro system. The Mandarin Oriental Guangzhou also offers guided city tours; based on your area of interest, their concierge will plan and accompany you to give a closer and insightful tour of the city.
Having stayed two nights at the Mandarin Oriental Guangzhou, we experienced most of the outlets and facilities. We loved the elegantly designed rooms, the restaurants Ebony and Jiang, the Spa, and the lounge, but what left us in awe was their impeccable service. From doormen to the front desk staff, restaurant waiters, Lounge staff, housekeeping, and spa therapists, every one of them bends over backward to make sure that the guests are felt special.
Did I mention that even after the dining hours, the Lounge staff specially packed Hummus, pita, and some veggies with a personalized note and left it in our suite?
The staff at the front desk made some interesting recommendations for sightseeing, particularly Karen. She was very attentive, and as we were checking out for our early flight to Shanghai, she said “Its a long trip to Shanghai, we have packed some veg-sandwiches and coffee for the journey.” We were touched. It were these and many other instances after which I can surely say – it is the best service we have experienced at a luxury hotel, and we have experimented a lot.
In a nutshell the hotel has the best of everything – Classy accommodation, world-class facilities, and perfect service. You just can’t be wrong with it.
Thank you, Mandarin Oriental. You have a new fan.
Disclaimer – The Club Premier suite at the Mandarin Oriental Guangzhou is for 4,300 RMB ($ 700) a night. We were provided complimentary accommodation and services. But the opinions expressed herein are my own.