Seven VIP cultural experiences for MO guests

M.O. Magazine
Putting insider connections to good use, Mandarin Oriental hotels are able offer cultural experiences – many of them curated in collaboration with local experts – which offer privileged access and give guests the chance to get under the skin of a destination. Here are seven which ensure a once-in-a-lifetime getaway

Take flight from Paris

Guests at Mandarin Oriental, Paris have the opportunity – thanks to a collaboration with Helifirst – to travel by helicopter to the Champagne region's world-renowned vineyards, for exclusive tastings and behind-the-scenes cellar explorations. Alternatively, fly to Mont-Saint-Michel, the so-called ‘Wonder of the West’, a mesmerising Gothic-style Benedictine Abbey, which sits atop a pyramid-like rocky islet in a shimmering bay between Normandy and Brittany. Either way, you’ll also enjoy unforgettable aerial views of Paris on your way, with a route that takes in views of the Eiffel Tower (of course), Jardin du Luxembourg, and the Italian-Renaissance style Ferrières Castle. 

Learn ‘the way of the warrior’ in Tokyo


Honour, self-discipline and loyalty are all core values of the Japanese martial art bushido, which combines ancient self-defence techniques with a wider moral code of conduct. Guests at Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo have the rare opportunity to meet with a samurai master at a dojo (martial arts hall) for a fascinating introduction to ‘the way of the warrior’, including wearing a traditional dogi (uniform). Accompanied by a skilled interpreter, guests will gen up on the history of the art and learn basic bushido techniques – including strikes and counter attacks – and thought-provoking philosophies.

Take a vintage Vespa sidecar tour in Singapore


From the imposing urban skylines to 261m-long Esplanade Bridge and the architectural glitz of Marina Bay and its artificial supertrees, Singapore has stunning scenery in spades. And, just about the most glamorous way to take it in is during a chauffeured ride in a vintage Vespa sidecar. Mandarin Oriental, Singapore has partnered with the expert riders and guides at Singapore Sidecars as part of the Relax and Ride package, which includes a 30-minute journey around the city – by day or by night – for two, as well as a two-night stay.

Tour Milan’s hidden shops


Milan is all about innovative design, and to show off its brightest talents, Mandarin Oriental, Milan has partnered with Artemest – an online platform dedicated to luxury Italian craftsmanship – to create two tailor-made experiences, launching in September 2021. Led by Artemest’s knowledgeable team, the Arts and Crafts tour reveals Milan’s blink-and-you’d miss them tucked away ateliers. You can see where the whimsical hand-painted wallpapers of Fabscarte are created as well as the intricately decorated ceramics of Paravicini Laboratory. A second tour combines Italian boutiques with a personal shopping focus, for a chance to pick up everything from Salvatori marble pieces to classic Pineider notebooks.

See the Crown Jewels after hours

Originally a stone fortress built by William the Conqueror, the Tower of London has, over the centuries housed a menagerie of animals, served as elegant royal abode and functioned as brutal prison. Today, it’s best known for being the site of the vault that holds the Crown Jewels. Ask your concierge at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London about the private, after-hours tours the hotel is able to organise, which are escorted by a Beefeater’guard in traditional uniform. After walking through the grounds, and enjoying Prosecco and canapés in the Hall of Monarchs, you will head through the vault doors to see an array of crown jewels in The Jewel House, including a 530 carat diamond, which decorates the Queen’s sceptre. Dazzling stuff.

Discover Hong Kong’s natural beauty


While Hong Kong might be famed for its urban sprawl, it’s also home to glorious wild spaces. The Sai Kung Peninsula – nicknamed Hong Kong’s back garden – has winding mountain paths and stretches of soft white sand. Whether trail hiking, or cutting through the shimmering coastal waters by kayak, time here is tonic for the soul. Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong can arrange guided trips of this rural wonder where in-the-know experts head to hidden beaches, share insights about flora and fauna, and point out interesting rock formations such as sea arches and stacks as you adventure. 

See Bangkok’s historic sights by bike


Temple-hopping in Bangkok is a must-do, and travelling between the temple sites by bike is a fun, immersive way to experience the city. Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok’s full-day cycle experiences are led by local experts and begin on Charoenkrung Road (which was Thailand’s first paved road). The tours take in historic Wat Pho – home of the reclining Buddha – and the golden-spired Grand Palace complex. You will also get to enjoy the buzz of Chinatown’s alleyways, bloom-filled fiesta of the Pak Khlong Talat Flower Market, and the colourful Chinese Gong Wu Shrine.