Two cities, one trip: How to optimise your next getaway
For Campari sodas and swimming
Italy is irresistible. Make your first stop Milan, where boutiques line the streets, Campari sodas fizz, and the Duomo is a vision in pink marble. At its heart – just around the corner from La Scala – is the impeccably stylish Mandarin Oriental, Milan. Discover the city’s hidden gems with a private guide, before claiming a table at Seta, where chef Antonio Guida has scooped two Michelin stars.
It’s an hour’s drive from the city to Lake Como, so hire a convertible to navigate the twisting roads and rainbow-coloured villages. Surrounded by soaring mountains, the lake has long enchanted travellers, who come to contemplate its still waters. Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como sits on its forested, sun-dappled shore. It’s a magical spot – and one that invites languid afternoons by the floating pool, followed by aperitivi in the gardens. You might also want to take a cruise around the lake, hop on an e-bike or fine-tune your negroni-mixing skills. Whatever you opt for, la vita è bella.
For sunshine and seaside promenades
Boldly built in the middle of the desert, Dubai is an intoxicating mix of sand, sun and skyscrapers, including the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. From colossal malls to miles of golden beach, everything exceeds expectations. On the shore of the Arabian Gulf, Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai is an urban oasis, with its serene spa and dazzling sea-view suites. Make memories during your stay with a dune-buggy adventure, or embark on a desert safari in a 1950s Land Rover.
Next stop: Abu Dhabi. It’s only 140km away so, for ease and door-to-door service, book a private taxi. The capital city of the Emirates is smaller than its neighbour, though packed with striking art and architecture; the Louvre on Saadiyat Island is a must. The majestic Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental is next to the Royal Palace, and its sumptuous interiors and palm-fringed private beach are a delight. As dusk falls, stroll the Corniche, an eight-kilometre seaside strip that buzzes with activity, from beach volleyball to bicycling, ice cream parlours to parks.
For culture and chic boutiques
London’s creativity has always been a draw. There are museums, galleries and theatres at every turn, with an ever-changing roster of exhibitions, performances and festivals. Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London is perfectly placed for culture-seekers, with the Serpentine Galleries and the V&A a short stroll away. Ask the concierge to arrange a private tour of nearby Kensington Palace, or tick off cultural big-hitters along South Bank, including the National Theatre and Southbank Centre. Finish off the day at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, whose exquisitely-executed menu is inspired by Britain’s culinary history.
There’s something undeniably romantic about travelling by train – especially when your destination is Paris. The journey from London takes just over two hours, which is ample time for a cappuccino and croissant. The City of Light is magical – all leafy boulevards, ornate bridges and elegant boutiques. Fashion and art also run through Mandarin Oriental, Paris, from its pretty-as-a-picture spa to its sleek cocktail bar. In search of the perfect little black dress to wear? Take a guided tour of the city’s vintage boutiques.
For gourmet delights and Gaudí
Go to Madrid hungry. The sunny Spanish capital buzzes with tapas bars, terrazas and restaurants. No visit would be complete without sampling chocolate con churros, best enjoyed warm as you wander the cobbled plazas before taking in the Prado and Picasso’s Guernica. In keeping with the city’s gastronomic flair, Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid – which sits in the city’s Golden Triangle of Art – has five bars and restaurants, overseen by Michelin-starred chef Quique Dacosta. The concierge can also set up tours of the iconic Mercado de la Paz, along with chocolate-tastings.
Take a couple of days to drive to Barcelona, enjoying the rolling olive groves and charming hilltop villages at a leisurely pace. This is a city famed for its architectural gems, from its atmospheric Gothic Quarter to Gaudí’s fantastical designs. Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona is set on the elegant Passeig de Gràcia, which is lined with Catalan Modernist buildings. Gen up on the extraordinary architecture on an exclusive walking tour before cooling off in the rooftop pool – a popular spot for sundowners.
For temples and tea ceremonies
Guangzhou is one of the largest cities in China, a fast-paced metropolis on the Pearl River where superstructures soar above the clouds. And yet, as one of the country’s key historic ports, it has a rich and colourful past, evident in its centuries-old temples, museums and traditional restaurants. Mandarin Orinetal, Guangzhou, in the thriving Tianhe district, seamlessly blends the contemporary with the classic. Dine on the finest dim sum at Jiang by Chef Fei or experience a Chinese tea ceremony, a tradition that dates back millennia.
There can be only one way to get to Shenzhen: aboard the bullet train. In little more than an hour, you’ll arrive at the mega-metropolis. Once a small, sleepy fishing village, it’s now home to cutting-edge galleries, designer shops and leafy parks (indeed, it’s the fifth greenest city in the world). Mandarin Oriental, Shenzhen offers stunning views across the dramatic cityscape, not least over Teppanyaki in one of Rin’s private dining rooms.