When The Mandrake opens its doors in September it will be like stepping into an M.C. Escher painting. The brainchild of secretive entrepreneur Rami Fustok, son of renowned absurdist sculptor Bushra Fakhoury, this was always going to be a hotel where nothing is quite what it seems.
The boutique hotel will house 34 eclectic bedrooms, three luxury suites and a dramatic, almost other-worldly penthouse with a jacuzzi and retractable roof. Designed to let the outside world in it is inspired by the Gardens of Babylon and the rooms are set across four floors, rising up from a striking central courtyard surrounded by hanging gardens of jasmine and passion flower.
A stone’s throw from the bustle of London’s West End, you’d be forgiven for mistaking The Mandrake for just another inner city townhouse. But beyond the understated exterior, there’s a strange, mystical world waiting to be explored.
‘The roots of the Mandrake plant are perceived to have magical and mysterious properties and we believe this is carried through to the art on display, the design of rooms, the staff and general ambience and spirit of the hotel,’ Fustok tells Culture Trip.
The hotel will feature works by a mix of artists including Francesco Clemente, Jonas Burgert, Peter-John de Villiers and Jeff Koons. A winged demon mural created by German graffiti duo Herakut will watch over guests as they party into the small hours, no doubt a reflection on the spirit realm the Mandrake plant was believed to help unlock.
There’s even a Mandrake cocktail on the menu made from a forager gin, Kyro Napue, and mixed with a Yuzu lime infusion. ‘Overly sour by itself but taken with a rice paper tab with miracle berry essence, it becomes something extraordinary,’ says Fustok, clearly no stranger to biochemical manipulation.
Add to that an ‘intriguing soundscape’ from French music producer Pierre Arnaud, specially designed scents from perfumer Azzi Glasser and a 30 candle chandelier by Lara Bohinc – The Mandrake will be an experience for all the senses. Not least of all because Michelin star chef Frederic Peneau – the man behind Hong Kong’s progressive French restaurant Serge et le Phoque – will be in the kitchen.
‘We don’t pay lip-service to the latest trends and have a genuine appreciation of art and culture in its many guises,’ says Fustok. Whether intended or not, The Mandrake is certainly tapping into a rising trend for psychedelia and New Age mysticism that will undoubtedly attract many of the city’s more interesting characters.
‘We hope that our guests will feel a sense of belonging when they enter The Mandrake. We want them to feel that this is the hotel they’ve been looking for all their lives,’ says Fustok. ‘We want them to feel part of an eclectic and eccentric family and our innovative Artist in Residence programme will help make them feel part of something special.’
With prices starting from £300 to £6,000 a night at The Mandrake it won’t come cheap, but if the renderings are anything to go by this should be well worth the price.