There is something of the untouchable about Mayfair. Its glamour is such that I would hardly be surprised to find Dom Perignon falling from the sky in the place of rain. I grew up pressing my face against gallery windows, admiring passing ladies in red lipstick and fur coats, gawping at large, expensive cars and losing myself in the elegance and nostalgia of the Burlington Arcade.
Curious about the lives of those who inhabit the area’s majestic properties, who step outside in the morning and breathe in the heady scent of Chanel No. 5, I speak to Will, who has lived and worked as a professional gambler (you couldn’t make it up) in Mayfair for 5 years.
The obvious perks of general splendour aside, Will loves it above all for its ‘bustling beauty and perfect location’. Flanked by Piccadilly, Oxford & Regent Streets and Hyde Park, Mayfair is right in the heart of London and yet somehow removed from the chaos of its parameters. It is gloriously serene and yet ‘buzzing with a certain energy’, adding to its allure.
Quality and class are the order of the day, and, as Will confirms, ‘it has the best galleries, restaurants and shops of any area in London’. So if the best is your thing, you need not look any further.
The infamous Bond Street is lined with fashion houses that ooze refined luxury and with several similarly exclusive streets branching off it. Mayfair is home to many of London’s gourmet meccas, such as Nobu, Gordon Ramsey at Claridges and Scott’s. (The eagle-eyed and eager can enjoy a spot of celeb-spotting while shovelling in their Dover sole.) I am told that Galvin at Windows is a must for French haute cuisine with mind-blowing views. And art lovers can peruse some of London’s finest masterpieces in Mayfair’s elegant rows of galleries.
Will also spends many evenings dirtying his hands at Burger & Lobster where customers queue to spend £20 on a slap up feast of either – you guessed it – a (superior) burger, or a big fat lobster, with fries. Del Fino is another local, low key favourite, serving fresh pizza and other simple Italian fare. The Shepherd’s Market, tucked behind Piccadilly, has risen from downright seedy to rather chic over the years, and now hides several good, unfussy restaurants and galleries.
A favourite local haunt of mine is Gray’s Antique Market, a vast covered emporium full of stalls selling antique jewellery, silver and other curiosities. Nestled behind South Molton Street, it is both unpretentious and magnificent.
Somewhat curiously, Mayfair appeals to all ages. With the Royal Academy, Hamley’s and Hyde Park all within easy walking distance for those with families, and with a nightlife that springs into action at dusk, with the likes of celebrity-haunt Mahiki and members club Annabels, everybody’s happy.
Talking to Will has opened Mayfair up and exposed it as a more exuberant, compelling area than its aristocratic beauty suggests. Its charm has always been undeniable, and I am confident that it will continue to inhabit its spot as one of London’s great neighbourhoods for many years to come.
This is a guest post by Sophie Stewart.Google+