Through the lens: cities from the sky

Whether you’re dining in a skyscraper or hopping in a helicopter, here are six new perspectives on some of the world’s greatest cities.
Experiencing a city from above always gives a fresh perspective, in more ways than one. Here, we contemplate some of the world’s major cities from overhead – from helicopters, hilltop parks, and dizzying observation decks.

See Doha by helicopter


First things first: get yourself checked into Mandarin Oriental Doha, where a Club Studio Suite will do very nicely, with its sleekly-partitioned living space and views over Barahat Msheireb square – an architectural marvel, with a vast retractable roof.


See more of the city’s wonders with a helicopter flight, with a gleaming Bentley to whisk you to the airfield. Swoop over Doha’s waterfront corniche and yacht-edged islands, and scope out its gleaming skyscrapers, before heading for coffee at The Torch – the tallest tower in Qatar.

Survey Dubai from on high

Framed by floor-to-ceiling windows, the views are second to none at Mandarin Oriental, Dubai. On one side, there are mesmerising vistas over the Arabian Gulf; on the other, the city’s ever-changing skyline. Wake up to the waves and sky in the Mandarin Sea Front Suite, or survey the glittering skyscrapers from a Deluxe Skyline View Room.

And, for the best of both worlds, head up to the sixth-floor Tasca, which pairs epic panoramas with a Michelin-starred menu. Keen to ascend to still-more-dizzy heights? Head to the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, with its dizzying observation decks and 154th-floor lounge.

Tower above Guangzhou

The best way to get the measure of this vibrant port city? Head to the iconic Canton Tower. Clocking in at 600 metres high, including its antenna, it’s the third highest tower in the world. The loftiest observation deck is the 488M Look Out, while the Bubble Tram’s spherical cabins are popular for proposals.

Its revolving restaurants include Lutèce for French fine dining, while its Sky Bar serves more casual coffees and deserts. Back at Mandarin Oriental, Guangzhou check into a Club Executive Suite for a panoramic view all of your own, from the comfort of your bed.

See Barcelona from Park Guëll

There’s no other park in the world quite like Park Guëll, designed by the inimitable Antoni Gaudí. Opened to the public in 1926, it’s one of the city’s best-loved landmarks, with its serpentine stairways, curving lines and many-hued mosaics.

Explore its bridges, viaducts and terraces, then head to the top of its highest point, Turó de les Tres Creus (Three Cross Hill), for panoramic views across the city. Afterwards, head back to Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona, for a well-earned gin and tonic.

Survey Munich from St Peter’s Church

No trip to Munich would be complete without a visit to St Peter’s, with its saintly relics, historic bells and 18th-century high altar. Most famous of all, though, is its tower, with 306 steps – a climb that’s rewarded by far-reaching views across the rooftops, stretching as far as the Alps on a cloudless day. Having worked up an appetite, retreat to the Mahjong Roof Garden at Mandarin Oriental, Munich – a seasonally-opening bar and restaurant, with some showstopping vistas of its own.

Climb a Dragon’s Back in Hong Kong

For a completely new perspective on the city, lace up your walking boots and head to the last leg of the Hong Kong Trail, the Dragon’s Back, on the Shek O peninsula.

There are expansive views of the southern part of the city and its shoreline as you approach the ridge, while Big Wave Bay, at the end of the trail, is perfect for a post-hike dip. Back in the city, Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is a luxurious lookout, with panoramic views of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong’s soaring skyline. Feeling the effects of your hike? Check into its spa for a 90-minute, muscle-easing Oriental Bamboo Massage.