Situated on the edge of leafy Hyde Park, Mayfair is a world-famous London borough known for its incredible architecture, gourmet restaurants and high-end hotels. Without a doubt one of the capital’s most luxurious and exclusive districts, the shopping here draws millions of visitors each year, keen to soak up the atmosphere and take in what’s truly a unique part of town. Because even by London’s standards, this is classy, sophisticated and wonderfully self-indulgent!
A largely rural area until the end of the 18th century, it became known for its ‘May Fair’, which ran from 1686 to 1764 in what’s now Shepherd Market. In 1719, Sir Richard Grovesnor and the Earl of Scarborough built Grosvenor Square and Hanover Square, beginning a transformation that helped shape many aspects of today’s modern Mayfair.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of its premier attractions:
If you’ve even a passing interest in fashion, you’ll be familiar with Bond Street. Home to a range of extremely prodigious outlets, this is where people come to seek out brands like Chanel, Cartier, Louis Vuitton and Jimmy Choo. Meanwhile, for those on a shopping spree, there’s an abundance of excellent cafes, bars and restaurants should you need refreshments as you make your way up this epic stretch of retail history. So, if you’re looking to treat yourself, then look no further. After all, for many, Bond Street is quite simply the pinnacle of good taste.
The centrepiece of the Duke of Westminster’s Mayfair property, Grosvenor Square is a huge, beautifully rendered greenspace, perfect for escaping the hustle and bustle of the West End. In fact, when first created in the 18th century, it became a national sensation, with visitors from across the land flocking to enjoy this wonderfully landscaped piece of countryside, somehow transported to the big city. Three centuries later, it continues to bring joy and relaxation to those who live locally, and in early 2024 it’s set to be redesigned, becoming even more extraordinary, with ground-breaking environmental credentials and a whole host of new and exciting features.
Established in 1982, Halcyon Gallery quickly became a leading, international purveyor of contemporary, cutting-edge art. Over the years, they’ve showcased established artists like Picasso, Warhol and Bob Dylan, whilst incorporating large-scale installations and important museum-scale exhibitions. They also continue to champion emerging artists, helping them to build extraordinary collections that have gone on to enjoy a huge amount of global recognition. In short, their ongoing commitment to exciting, accessible art means they’re consistently the very best at what they do.
A hidden gem right in the centre of Mayfair, Shepherd Market is a charming square and piazza full of boutique shops, great eateries and classic Victorian pubs. Back in the 1920s, it was an ultra-fashionable location, frequented by artists, musicians and royalty, a tradition that’s continued down the decades, giving it a creative, bohemian atmosphere that’s quite unlike anywhere else. Described by locals as the ‘heart of Mayfair’, it remains a relaxed, vibrant spot to shop and spend quality time with friends. To be enjoyed at your leisure.
Food for thought:
Our Guide to the Top Spots to Wine and Dine in Mayfair:
Right on the corner of Berkley Square, Sexy Fish serves up incredible sushi, sashimi, seafood, fish and a range of meats cooked on a Robata grill. The restaurant is pretty stunning too; the walls running with water, the staff decked out in jewel-covered velvet jackets and a giant, gold-plated crocodile watching you as you eat. Make no mistake though, it’s the quality of the cuisine that keeps people coming back for more.
This is decadent Indian cuisine of the highest order, featuring exquisitely cooked renditions of traditional dishes, with an emphasis on ingredients cooked in the tandoor. Inspired by the elite clubs of India where high society wined and dined, Gymkhana has held a Michelin star since 2014, and, to this day, retains its standing as one of London’s finest Indian restaurants.
For tapas lovers everywhere, Sabor provides two floors of perfection: small plates at the counter downstairs and regional wood-fired feasting upstairs. Like all the best tapas bars, the atmosphere is fun, lively and easy-going, yet it’s held a coveted Michelin star since 2018. The salt-cod tortilla is a must, as is the Monkfish tempura. Meanwhile, a selection of vermouths, gins and sherries help conjure up the real spirit of Spain.
It’s hard to think of a more glamorous spot than the one where you’ll find Bacchanalia: on the corner of Mayfair’s world-famous Berkeley Square. Meanwhile, the restaurant itself boasts a glorious interior, featuring Damian Hurst statues, hand-painted ceiling murals and an astounding array of original artworks. And then there’s the food: a sumptuous combination of Greek and Italian. Believe the hype!
Well served by Oxford Street, Bond Street, Green Park and Marble Arch tube stations, travel from Mayfair into and around the city is quick and efficient. It also boasts easy access to a host of walking, jogging and cycling routes.
Education and Business
Mayfair is home to, among others, the University of Westminster, the London College of Fashion and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Meanwhile, an array of different businesses call the borough home, from fashion and software companies to long-established auction houses and antique dealers.