Six unique MO design destinations

MO Magazine
Always characterful, often innovative and definitely unique, Mandarin Oriental hotels and resorts exude superior design, from bespoke artworks to sustainable architecture. Here are six creative design features to discover during your next stay


Take flight at London’s Butterfly Terrace


Red admirals, cabbage whites, common blues, meadow browns; there is a spectrum of English butterflies, and Leah Wood hand-painted more than 100 lifelike examples on the walls at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London. The hypnotically colourful result is Butterfly Terrace: a balcony space adjacent the hotel’s ballroom (in which the Queen and Princess Margaret learned to dance). An environmental activist as well as an artist, Wood – the daughter of Rolling Stone, Ronnie – says she creates art that she hopes will “raise awareness about the environment in the face of climate change”. It’s a design choice that also complements Joyce Wang's Hyde Park-inspired interior redesign of the hotel, and made the narrow, elegant terrace a point of creative interest.

Experience Doha’s best new eco-design


With innovative ‘green’ architecture and an influx of business creatives, the Qatari capital’s sustainable neighbourhood of Msheireb Downtown Doha has revived a commercial district that had fallen quiet. “Msheireb now has one of the world’s largest groupings of ‘LEED’-certified buildings, for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design,” says journalist Sakhr Al-Makhadhi. “But in many ways, the contemporary architecture here takes its cues from the energy-efficient courtyard houses of old.”

Msheireb has a hotel to match its ambitions in the form of Mandarin Oriental, Doha. The water pouring into those glamorous oversized bathtubs is heated by solar panel, and the wastewater heads to Downtown Doha’s water treatment plant. What guests will notice first is none of this, but the extraordinary hotel environment of David Collins Studio and architects John McAslan + Partners, which combines the design language of Qatari culture with the highest sustainability standards.

See Frank Gehry’s fish in China


What is it about Frank Gehry and fish? They have been a recurring motif for the top-flight architect – celebrated for his extraordinary modernist buildings including the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao – who began his creative life as a furniture designer and created his first ‘Fish Lamps’ in the early 1980s. They’ve been seen in the world’s most respected galleries, such as Gagosian, and you’ll also find an example in the lobby at Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing, Beijing. “The lamp here is a crown of three koi chasing one another, and is unusual in that it’s a tricoloured example of Gehry’s more-often monochrome Fish Lamps,” says art and design writer, Skye Sherwin. “He began making them in 1983, as a commission for Formica to create objects from its new plastic laminate. After shattering a piece by accident, he was apparently reminded of fish scales, and got to work.”

Pool your resources in Como

It takes some doing to upstage Lake Como with a water feature, but the pool at Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como probably comes as close as anything ever will. The 16-metre outdoor swimming pool appears to ‘float’ on the lake’s surrounding waters – and is worth lingering in until your skin prunes, just to take in the romantic drama of its surroundings on the south-east banks of Lake Como. This rock star of a hotel pool has proved a draw for location scouts, and has been the setting for photo shoots for international fashion brands such as Orlebar Brown. The hotel joined Mandarin Oriental in 2019, reinvigorating much of the look and feel of this storied landmark, which centres on the historic Villa Roccabruna: once the home of perfectly named soprano opera singer, Giuditta Pasta.


Hide out in a Paris courtyard garden


The courtyard garden at Mandarin Oriental, Paris is a secluded destination within a destination, populated by pink-blooming camelia trees and Chanel-clad locals (the store is just a moment away) who are as chic as you’d hope; its lush greenery punctuated by a distinctive black stone fountain. You can also dine here, weather, pandemic and opening hours permitting, if you’re a guest of Camélia – one of the hotel restaurants overseen by Michelin star-accruing chef Thierry Marx. But whether you’re eating out or just breathing it all in, there’s a peaceful, even otherworldly feel to this garden hideaway – its lush greenery punctuated by a distinctive black stone fountain – that belies the fact you’re on the shopping artery of Rue Saint-Honoré and just a stroll from Place Vendôme. Like this? You’d love The Parisian Apartment.

Find your usual at The Bamboo Bar


A hotel for more than 144 years – putting most other accommodations’ boasts of being to be ‘heritage’ properties in the shade – Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok sits right on the Chao Phraya River. Among the hotel’s lasting claims to fame is The Bamboo Bar, which was the city’s first jazz bar when it opened in 1953 and was the top-rated bar in Thailand in 2020. Its rakish appeal emanates from the low, reflectively lacquered ceilings, plush banquettes and low-slung wicker armchairs. Ian Fleming famously enjoyed a drink here when he was dreaming up James Bond, but we’d wager that you’ll be more interested in what’s on the mind of British mixologist Jamie Rhind, who heads up the bar today.