Down a quiet lane in Fitzrovia, near the bright lights of Oxford Street, is the last place you’d expect to find an enchanting, completely one-of-a-kind boutique hotel. But if you spot the black exterior and head inside a spotlight-lit, bougie members club kinda entrance, you’ll arrive at The Mandrake. And strap in, as you’re about to experience a whole new adventure.
Fun fact: the multi-award-winning Mandrake hotel is named after a plant that has magical and sometimes hallucinogenic properties. I’m also reliably informed that Shakespeare has written about this zany nightshade, plus all Harry Potter nerds will know about the shrieking beast. But there’s a lot more to this hotel than mythology; it goes deep into the spiritual and extraordinary without being gimmicky. Let me explain...
Each of the 33 rooms reflects the juxtaposition of darkness and light. Our Terrace Room (starting from around £537), perhaps unsurprisingly, had gorgeous views of the airy courtyard via a semi-private deck. The room itself was an absolute stunner and like nowhere I have stayed before; peach walls contrasted with a burgundy velvet bench and a colourful peacock-style masterpiece above the dreamy king-sized bed. On the other side, two delicate, intricately decorated masks bookended the flat-screen TV and although beautiful, they did give me slightly Squid Game kinda vibes. The bathroom boasted herringbone marble floors, a lush overhead shower, fluffy robes and carrying on the botanical theme, Grown Alchemist toiletries.
Gone too are the uninspiring gyms of your standard hotels, but in its place are activities focused on mindfulness, from complimentary yoga classes to gong baths. But The Mandrake likes to party y’all, in fact, they had to turn away people last Halloween because their events are so in demand (maybe that’s why there isn’t a bath in these rooms, who needs relaxing when there's fun to be had?).
YOPO, The Mandrake London’s restaurant, is definitely worth checking out even if you’re not a guest. As soon as you walk past reception (who were amazing, i'd like to add), you’re met with a moody yet seductive dining space; comprising of exotic plants, stunning chandeliers that look like they’re made of tar and a huge ostrich-snake-giraffe hybrid known locally as Showgirl.
We kicked things off in true Mandrake style with a glass each of NV Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label (£24), but as soon as we started to feel the alcohol hit our bloodstream, the starters arrived. Ostra Regal oysters (£6 each) continued our deluxe theme in the form of a Champagne granita. These moreish mouthfuls not only went down a treat but the raised presentation made fellow dinners swoon. The bubbly parmesan tapioca (£7) was actually one of my favourite dishes of the night due to the bouncy texture, crispy coating and oozy, cheesy inner layer. Executive chef George Scott-Toft’s menu has caused a stir among foodies, promising South American-inspired fare with a modern European twist. This couldn’t be more evident in the tapas-styler sharer of padron peppers (£8), topped with chilli salt and a delightful smoked ricotta dip. For you crustacean champions, make a beeline for the Portland Crab (£18) as the mix of sweet brioche, crunchy apple and decant caviar proved to be a big hit. As for the cocktails? It’s clear to see why the Waeska bar’s offering is so popular. After recommendations from our incredible host Misqel, we opted for the grapefruity Mangosteen (£20), heady with tequila and jalapeno vinegar, alongside a punchy yet fruity Flores Sana (£20).
As the sleek, sexy grooves continued to play, our mains hit the table. My smoked ricotta ravioli (£27), minus the guanciale to make it veggie, constituted of perfectly formed parcels bursting with silky cheese, peppered in rocket and basil. But the star of the show? The amazing chipotle-like oil underneath. My date’s carnivorous choice of Fosse Meadows chicken breast (£31), topped with salty crisps for crunch, was moist and delicious, plus he loved the garlicky sauteed mushroom mix. While the baby gem lettuce (£10) won’t be high up on my return hit list, the broccoli (£13) was a nice addition; just imagine a thick, earthy, smooth nutty sauce, scorched lime, a splattering of sesame seeds and ideally al dente veg. For a fine finale to your evening, make sure to order the mezcal chocolate royal (£13). Now, I know you might be apprehensive about the smoky booze, but don’t be. The combo really worked with the Bounty-like flavours of the cocoa meringue and candied coconut, combined with delicious banana ice cream.
During the day, The Mandrake looks like a hidden, tranquil, Jasmine-draped oasis. But at night? The beautiful people come out to play. The terrace rooms face the bar area so while my stay wasn’t the most peaceful, despite the gorgeously soft linen and comfy firm bed, it certainly was one of the prettiest places I’ve ever hunkered down in.
We were reacquainted with Showgirl at breakfast. This was altogether a calmer affair, switching up last night’s beat-driven soundtrack for something more downtempo. Highlights from the Wellbeing Breakfast include the little, slightly salted tortillas which proved to be the perfect vehicle for the quinoa, spinach, chickpea panisse and broken-down slabs of feta cheese (£2). The full English satisfied my partner's hunger with all the favourites: sausage, mushroom, beans and bacon, plus the optional extras of avocado (£7) and hash brown (also £7). For me? I quaffed a bellini (£18) to finish our stay in style.
The DesignMyNight Digest
The Mandrake is a breath of fresh air on London’s hotel scene, blending fantasy, sophistication, hedonism and chic with a five-star finish. It’s so goddamn cool without being pretentious. The ethnobotanical cocktails were exceptional, plus the food was beautifully presented with the quality to match. While I can’t say I woke up feeling 100% rested, they certainly made up for it with a truly memorable experience, especially the stunning secret garden. One of the best hotels in Fitzrovia? You bet.
💰 The damage: Bed and breakfast deals start at £650, plus dinner came to £221 (excl service).
📍 The location: 20-21 Newman Street, London, W1T 1PG.
👌 Perfect for: For artists, creatives and those who defy uniformity.
⭐ Need to know: Check out the in-house AiR programme for original design showcases.