Hotels in the area :
Grosvenor Square, Mayfair
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What is Mayfair?
Just think of a Monopoly board, the English version. Mayfair is the square with the most valuable property, royal dark purple, the square immediately before GO! at the end of the circuit.
The game reflects reality. Mayfair is London's best addresses, the clubland of the richest, la creme de la creme... Old money, glamour, Jaguars, aristocracy. Nothing in London is more opulent, no neighbourhood exudes more wealth.
Mayfair is the area roughly shaped like a square whose perimetre's four sides are Piccadilly, Hyde Park with Park Lane, Oxford Street and Regent Street.
What do you find in Mayfair?
Super luxury hotels, luxurious houses, many of London's finest eating places, upmarket restaurants with celebrities as owners or chefs, plenty of exclusive shops, elite car dealerships, expensive boutiques, members-only drinking clubs, trendy hair salons. But also pubs, eateries and wine bars for more down-to earth, ordinary budgets.
Mayfair shopping, Bond Street, Savile Row. Museums, & more
What do you do in Mayfair?
Plenty. Shopping, for a start. Bond Street is an interrupted series of shops of the main international fashion designers, with an emphasis on Italian and French, boutiques of all kinds, big outlets of the most important clothes retailers, jewellers of the calibre of Cartier and Asprey, picture galleries. Very expensive.
Savile Row, Mayfair
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Bond Street is close to the eastern boundary of Mayfair. It is made up of New Bond Street, starting from Oxford Street, and Old Bond Street, starting from Piccadilly: the two parts meet in the middle. At the corner of New Bond Street and Bruton Street stands the Time Life Building, with abstract sculptures by Henry Moore, called Time-Life Screen and created in 1952-53 as a sort of balustrade with a terrace behind it.
In New Bond Street, just when it meets Old Bond Street, in front of shop windows displaying Rolexes and Patek Philippe luxury watches there are two unusual bronze statues of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill sitting on a bench, smiling and looking at each other as if in friendly conversation, with Roosevelt's arm stretching over the back of the seat. This composition is called "Allies". There is enough room between them for someone to sit and enjoy a photo opportunity.
Until 1686 all this area had been an open field; then Sir Thomas Bond, Comptroller of the Household to the Queen Mother, Queen Henrietta Maria the mother of Charles II, planned Old Bond Street. New Bond Street was built later, in the early 1700s.
Jermyn Street and Savile Row, the streets synonymous with men's high class elegance, bespoke men's tailoring, are also in Mayfair. The former is strictly speaking just south of Piccadilly, but is still considered Mayfair.
For cultural entertainment, if you are scientific oriented there is the Faraday Museum in Albemarle Street, and if you are inclined towards the humanities, and music in particular, visit the Handel House Museum in Brook Street.
Grosvenor Square is where the American Embassy stands, with a statue of Franklin D. Roosevelt. In Berkeley Square you'll find Jack Barclay's Bentley showroom. Nearby, No.48 was the childhood home of Winston Churchill.
In Mayfair have lived, among others, Admiral Nelson (and his mistress Lady Emma Hamilton), Clive of India, the British Prime Minister Disraeli, the composer Handel, the nurse "Lady of the Lamp" Florence Nightingale, the actor Peter Sellers, the rock guitar legend Jimi Hendrix, Dodi Fayed, and the Earl Mountbatten.
In Mayfair you can see the best village within a village in all London: Shepherd Market, a delightful retreat of alleys and tiny lanes that still maintains a village cosy atmosphere in 1700s proportions. Shepherd Market is from where Mayfair took its name, because an annual fair was held on this site. Today it is a place of lively bars, pubs, restaurants and fancy boutiques.
Mayfair apartments, hotels, clubs. Home House, Tramp, Studio 57
Luxury House in Mayfair
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The passion for middle-class apartments in the early 20th century caused the destruction of many old mansions in Mayfair, replaced by blocks of luxury flats. And, strange as it seems, even Mayfair had its share of back-mews slums until the 1920s.
The houses in Regency style that lined Park Lane were destroyed, mainly in the 30s, to make space for shops, flats, hotels. Apartments flooded Mayfair, demolishing 18th century houses in their hundreds. The invasion of offices turned Bruton Street, Berkeley Square and other places from residential into commercial areas.
Mayfair, which had been for a long time the most elegant part of London, lost some of its prestige and charisma due to the invasion of offices after world War II. But the 1960s Swinging London brough with it discotheques and nighclubs, the most famous and fashionable of which were in Mayfair, which regained its status as smart, stylish and upmarket area.
And this is the reality of Mayfair today. Many of the most talked-about restaurants, clubs, bars, the Friday nighters, the members' bars, eateries, grand members' clubs, louche hangouts, are here. Mayfair is home to some of the most exclusive members' clubs not just in London but on the globe, regular haunts for celebrities.
The area is evocative of the 60s London. The club 57 Jermyn Street, now renamed Studio 57, is on the site of the original 1969 Tramp members-only nightclub, which is now a few numbers down the road, and of the 1970s Monkberry's, where Grace Jones would come down the stairs on a motorbike.
Home House, probably London's most exclusive and luxurious private member's club, is also in Mayfair. The difference between clubs like these in Mayfair and the traditional clubs in Pall Mall is that the former are opulent but accessible, not stuffy. Old-fashioned smart places like Pall Mall clubs have rigid sets of rules for members to adhere to, whereas the new-style Mayfair clubs have a can-do approach to things, rather than a can't-do atmosphere.
Finally, Mayfair is the place of swanky rooftop spaces, of great views over London from Park Lane's impressive luxury hotels. Dining rooms on the top floors of this boulevard's hotels afford panoramas of Hyde Park, the Serpentine, and beyond that the glitzy, glittering lights of the city, while the piano plays classic tunes and people look out from the dais overlooking the green.
Vegetarian restaurants near Mayfair include the popular restaurants Food for Thought, 31 Neal Street, in Covent Garden, and Vita Organic, 74 Wardour Street, in Soho.
Address: Royal Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1
Phone: +44 (0)20 7300 8000
Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus, Green Park
The Royal Academy of Arts, founded in 1769, is housed in the main building of the Burlington House. The House stands on the north side of Piccadilly, and was built in 1665 for the First Earl of Burlington, later remodelled in 1717.
After the British Government bought the Burlington House in the mid-19th century, new wings were added to it, so that its facade has lost its original 18th-century-palace style and now looks Victorian-Renaissance. One of the new wings, the New Burlington House, is home to important scientific and other learned associations, chief among which is the world-renowned Royal Society, one of whose early Presidents was Isaac Newton.
The Royal Academy of Arts is a beautiful gallery hosting changing exhibitions, including major touring art shows from around the world. Its annual exhibitions are held from May to August, and special exhibitions at other times of the year. In the quadrangle of the House stands a statue of the first President of the Royal Academy of Arts, the 18th-century painter Sir Joshua Reynolds.
The Royal Academy collection's most treasured piece is Michelangelo's Taddei Tondo, sculpted in Florence circa 1502–06. It is a marble bas-relief depicting the Virgin Mary, the Child and San Giovannino (the Infant St John the Baptist). The basis of the composition is St John's act of showing a goldfinch that, symbolizing the Passion and placed in the middle of the tondo, frightens the Child who seeks refuge in His mother's arms, while She looks on serenely. The Taddei Tondo is the only marble sculpture by Michelangelo in Britain.
On the lef of the Burlington House is the Burlington Arcade, a kind of ante litteram upmarket shopping mall, going from Piccadilly to Burlington Gardens. It is a Regency covered shopping gallery, built in 1818, with a facade dating from 1931. When it was built, strict regulations were enforced which still apply, like not being permitted to open an umbrella, to whistle, to run, to introduce prams. It has its own beadle to enforce them today. Among the shops are fashionable boot makers, hosiers, jewellers.
You can always tell when an artist has reached the very pinnacle of critical acclaim, because he gets transformed into an industry. At the Royal Academy shop, look out for the T-shirts, calendars, mugs, watches, umbrellas, napkins and diaries.
Other things you'll find in the shop are items to encourage potential artistic talent present and future, such as a range of oil paints and all imaginable sorts of start-up art kits for children: sand-painting, face-painting, modelling, printing, crayons and collages.
On sale are also gift ideas, for example book-ends in gypsum plaster, which are copies of the gates at the Piccadilly entrance to the Royal Academy, ceramic teapot stands, bone-china mugs and the like. Its range of international contemporary design includes sleek, square keyrings, the Icarus corkscrew, a Euro converter calculator.
How to get there
Mayfair is in the heart of the West End, between Piccadilly and Park Lane. The nearest underground stations are Green Park, Marble Arch, Bond Street. Green Park Tube Station is on the Piccadilly, Jubilee and Victoria lines, and provides access to chic Mayfair, Green Park and St James's Park as well as Buckingham Palace Gardens and St James's Palace.