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The Mandrake hotel review: a mysterious, luxurious and art-filled London haven with really great cocktails

• Rating: 9/10
Rooms at The Mandrake start from 
$621 (£536) a night
Check current rates and availability

I’ve been to The Mandrake several times over the years, a couple of times in the morning for visits cementing it as one of the best luxury London breakfast spots, and twice for dinner and drinks where I discovered that the hotel serves some of the best oysters in London. But this was my first time sleeping over in the enchanting hotel since it opened its doors in the summer of 2017. There’s absolutely no shortage of incredibly well-designed places to stay in London, from The Lost Poet at the top of Portobello Road to The Ned with its marble bathrooms and rooftop pool, and not forgetting one of my favourites, Henrietta Hotel in Covent Garden with its dreamy rooms designed by Dorothée Meilichzon. And after my stay, The Mandrake without a doubt makes the list too, on account of its creativity, style and one-of-a-kind vibe. 

bedroom number 22 at the mandrake hotel London
My room, 22 at The Mandrake

About halfway down Newman St, a few minutes walk from the newly revived Soho, you’ll almost miss The Mandrake if you’re not looking carefully. The front door, topped with the hotel’s trademark symbol—an intricate all-seeing eye—is often flanked by a couple of doormen and leads to a discreet dimly-lit passageway. Once inside, at the bottom of the corridor usually sits an impressive work of art from the hotel’s artist in residence, who for my visit was the playful and innovative British-born American artist Kour Pour. His artwork in question? A stunning Japanese-style tiger in shades of turquoise and bold red.

corridor leading to the lobby at the mandrake hotel in London
Corridor leading to The Mandrake

What’s the vibe at The Mandrake?

Mysterious, luxurious, creative and hedonistic. The theme of the hotel plays with the contrast of darkness and light which is evident throughout the building, from Waeska, the hotel’s bar with its labradorite tabletop—said to help recalibrate energy fields and heal the spirit—to the jasmine and passionflower-filled hanging garden upstairs. As soon as I entered the hotel I felt as though I was in a secret club, a maze filled with the most impressive art collection, and I was disoriented, unable to place where to go, even though I’d visited a couple of times before. The hotel centres out from an outdoor courtyard where two impressive ancient Tasmanian ferns dominate the space, to one side is the hotel’s lobby and reception where my eyes were immediately drawn to a mysterious sculpture known as The Butterfly Effect—a Brutalist-inspired chandelier light installation that merges the denseness of the original metal design by Lara Bohinc, with the softness of human hair added by Robert Masciave. The aforementioned bar, Waeska sits on the other side of the courtyard and directly opposite is the hotel’s restaurant YOPO, filled with an eclectic mix of furniture sourced from around the globe. The Mandrake is an intimate, almost secretive place which is so rare to find in crowded London.

How are the rooms?

Carefully designed to incite enjoyment, sensuality and pleasure, the 34 luxury bedrooms range from the sumptuous and mysterious to the bold and bright. I stayed in room number 22, one of The Mandrake’s terrace rooms with two glass doors leading out onto a wooden deck that overlooks the huge Tasmanian ferns below. My bed had an epic forest green suede headboard, while bedside tables topped with ornate lamps flanked each side. A stunning plum and khaki coloured oval rug and bold abstract gecko painting added personality to the place and there was a plush burgundy sofa at the foot of the bed for relaxing. Intriguing photographic books, as well as classics like Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky and Truman Capote’s Breakfast At Tiffany’s provided bedroom reading material and there was a fun, retro Marshall radio. 

bed and lamps at the mandrake hotel in London
My room at The Mandrake

Opposite the bed, the usual wardrobe with safe and slippers et cetera provided ample storage, while a fully stocked mini-bar enticed with champagne, various wine and spirit varieties, a few snacks, tea and coffee, as well as two large glass bottles filled with water. The bathroom was hidden behind a sliding mirrored door and had an exquisite grey and moss-green marble sink top. A rainfall shower was to the left and the toilet to the right. Motion sensor low lights in the bathroom meant I didn’t need to worry about finding my way at night, a revolution in lightning that I’ve only ever experienced at one other place—the fabulous Can Bordoy in Palma de Mallorca. Divine-smelling bathroom products are by Grown Alchemist and if you’re lucky you might be met with an exotic fruit bowl and hand-written welcome note—these are touches I really appreciate when staying in a new hotel.

What is there to eat and drink?

Following an all-encompassing renovation, The Mandrake’s restaurant YOPO has been transformed into a more sensual, bohemian space. The last time I visited—a few years pre-pandemic—it was a more light and airy affair but the renovation has been well worth it, the place is now like nowhere I’ve experienced before with a ceiling filled with what looks like charcoal drawings of jungle creatures, flora and fauna in what feels like almost rhythmic patterns. Amazingly, at the centre of the restaurant is a grandiose ostrich sculpture by Enrique Gomez de Molina that almost makes you feel like you’re tripping on acid. I didn’t have dinner at YOPO but I did enjoy my huge breakfast there. Included in room rates are a choice of four breakfast options. I chose the continental selection of seasonal fruit, granola, greek yogurt, sourdough toast and jams and croissant, it was one of the best hotel breakfasts I’ve had in a while. 

fruit plate and granola at the mandrake hotel in London
Breakfast at The Mandrake

Other options at this early London breakfast spot include avocado on toast, eggs any style, or a full English and all options come with tea or coffee and a juice, or ginger shot, which I just love! The evening menu is inspired by South America and some of the best restaurants in Lima with new dishes like turbot with pistachio mole, wrapped in banana leaves, and sashimi of yellowtail on the menu. Waeska, the hotel’s bar which I mentioned previously is only open to hotel guests which gives it a slightly exclusive edge, and it’s here you’ll find an incredible taxidermy sculpture that’s part gazelle, part peacock as well as a selection of African artefacts. The bar serves up some of the best cocktails in London (including great Pisco Sours) and has a unique ethnobotanical theme, you can also order snacks and light bites here as well as English oysters. 

Any highlights?

This may sound like an odd highlight, but head downstairs at The Mandrake and you’ll find one of the most impressive bathrooms in the world! Gold tubes snaking down from the ceiling look like art but provide water to wash hands, while sinks are reminiscent of Tibetan singing bowls, and just outside is a seating area where jaw-dropping art punctuates walls, including one of my favourites, a blinking electronic eye. 

bathroom at the mandrake hotel
The Mandrake's stunning basement bathroom

The cocktails are also a highlight whether you're staying at the hotel or not. For me, the standout winner is the Mangosteen—a blend of the Southeast Asian fruit of the same name with hibiscus and smoke-dried jalapeño chilli peppers. As a real art lover, I’ve not seen a hotel with such an eclectic selection before (aside from Banksy's Hotel in Palestine). There are way too many standout pieces to mention but for fans of the creative scene, a stay at The Mandrake is a no-brainer.

Anything they could improve on?

Nothing for my stay.

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