Whilst hard to imagine today, up until the early 18th century Mayfair was a fairly rural area; its name deriving from the annual ‘May Fair’ that took place in the area that is now known as Shepherd Market. Having grown increasingly unkempt over the years, it was The Grosvenor family who acquired the land with plans to turn its fortunes around… Its prestigious status – not least affirmed by its prime positioning on a Monopoly board – has befitted Mayfair ever since.
Surrounded by green parkland, it’s an especially appealing area to explore in the spring. With something for everyone – both Londoners and tourists alike – here are a few things to see and do in Mayfair if you find yourself in the area.
Somewhere to stroll
Mayfair is surrounded by three of London’s Royal Parks (there are eight in total) – Hyde Park, Green Park and St James’s Park. Each has its own charm and things to do, whether it be rowing or boating on the Serpentine in Hyde Park, taking a breather on a deck chair in Green Park or watching the resident pelicans at feeding time in St James’s.
Somewhere to shop
From iconic Bond Street, revered all over the world for its plethora of elegant department stores and designer shops, to celebrated Savile Row and specialist art & antiques emporiums such as Grays Antique Market, there is enough to keep even the most dedicated shopper occupied. And don’t miss the numerous Arcades that run off Piccadilly – Burlington Arcade perhaps being the most famous – at which you’ll find treasure troves of jewellery, the finest cashmere, perfumes and more…
Somewhere to take in the art
The Royal Academy of Arts – fondly referred to as The RA – is the oldest fine arts institution in Britain, having been founded in 1768. Located on Piccadilly, it’s universally renowned for hosting some of London’s finest exhibitions throughout the year, along with its permanent collection of treasures from ancient sculpture to modern-day masterpieces. And for those who are in the market for buying art as well as admiring it, Mayfair is where many of the international auction houses choose to call home – Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Bonham’s being three of the most significant.
Somewhere to eat
After a day of roaming, especially when laden down with bags aplenty, what better way to take the weight of your feet than by enjoying dinner at one of Mayfair’s many restaurants? On Piccadilly, a two-minute walk from Green Park tube, just past The Ritz and near enough opposite The Royal Academy, The Wolseley is perfectly situated be it for an early-evening meal, a celebratory dinner or just a late-night bite to eat. What’s more, a Café Menu runs through until 11pm every evening and there are always tables held back on a first come first served basis for those just passing by.
Somewhere to be entertained
And should, following dinner, you feel like a little entertainment – at the end of Piccadilly (though just outside Mayfair we admit), the live music venue, Crazy Coqs – situated within the same building as Brasserie Zédel, has a revolving rostrum of acts across disciplines such as cabaret, musical theatre, comedy and spoken word. With a 7pm & 9.15pm show every weeknight and the addition of an 11pm show on Saturday’s, there’s something for everyone.