Inside London’s beautiful, bizarre new hotel, the Mandrake
The 34-room boutique property takes inspiration from the mandrake root, a powerful psychedelic that’s long been associated with witches and sorcery.
Among the newest additions to London’s hotel scene, the Mandrake is also one of the most bizarre. The brainchild of entrepreneur Rami Fustok, the 34-room property takes its inspiration from the mandrake root, a powerful psychedelic that’s long been associated with witches and sorcery. The result is a beautifully hemmed together — if mildly dystopian — boutique property with an ambience that’s equal parts Eyes Wide Shut, Alexander McQueen, and Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights.
Tucked away on a quiet West End side street, the Mandrake would be easy to miss were it not for the gigantic taxidermy ostrich with snakeskin-covered neck in a vitrine at its entrance. A dark, dungeon-like passageway leads into the hotel, where there’s even more of the fantastical, from eerie wooden-carved figurines that could’ve been plucked from a dark Victorian fairy tale to yet another hybrid beast, this time a stuffed antelope bedazzled in a shimmering coat of turquoise peacock feathers. Even the elevator has been artistically tended to, with glass walls that overlook a four-story-long mural rife with sacred geometric shapes linked together by thick masses of serpentine vines.
In a stark contrast to the fantastical public spaces, many of the guest rooms are low-key, featuring a mix of white and dark tones offset by colourful avant-garde prints and gorgeous gray marble bathrooms. Others take the surrealist steampunk ambience a step further, with dark-velvet draperies, jewel-tone interiors, and claw-foot bathtubs. And even Londoners who don’t plan to spend the night will find stopping by worth a visit — not just to gawk at the endless display of stunning art, but also to indulge at the Mandrake’s exclusive branch of Michelin-starred Hong Kong institution Serge et le Phoque, which serves French fare along with finer takes on British pub classics (think tempura fish and chips).
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