Once all the medals have been handed out, and the Olympic Champions have all left for home, we encourage you to choose a week or two and head to London! We guarantee you will not be bored! We want to share some of our favorite discoveries with you. Part I is the first in a series entitled “Best of London”. These are all interesting areas that we easily walked to from one of the lovely hotels located in Mayfair. (See our Review of Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel for a recommendation).
Simply strolling the Mayfair streets is a walk down history lane. Named back in the 1600’s for the annual two-week long May Fair which took place in “Shepherd Market” even then was a district populated by the well-to-do and very well connected; so the roughhousing and revelry that took place was not welcomed by the upper crust. Celebrations were moved on to the Fair Field district, leaving “Mayfair District” to the aquiline-nosed, powder-wigged men and carefully corset-bound ladies of the British elite.
Mayfair continued to foster its haute monde proclivities in the 17th & 18th century, with residents such as the Duke of Westminster, the Grosvenor’s and the Rothschild’s putting down very deep, moneyed roots. They invested in grand statues, bubbling fountains & lush flower displays for their parks, and delighted in wide, clean streets filled with shops in which to spend their money and stroll past in their finery.
While it has lost some of the snooty air which it must have emanated in it’s hey day, Mayfair remains a place to see, and to be seen by, the finer side of life.
As you wander, lift your eyes! You’ll notice fascinating “gargoyles” peering down upon you, from the rooftops of many of the old buildings. In all shapes and sizes, with wings, beaks, claws, and tails, half-human, half-animal, half-mythical beast, their centuries-old eyes have seen civilizations rise and fall. Around each corner lies a winding alley, with yet another charming pub filled with the boisterous cheers and chatter of soccer-crazy Brits. With most pubs charging a “cover ” per table to sit while drinking or eating, most Londoners prefer to stand around both inside and out of the inviting doorways, eyes never straying far from the tiny TV screen hitched somewhere up in the corner of a room where yet another soccer match is in play.
The offer of the World’s Best Fish & Chips taunts you from every intimate little restaurant, scrawled in chalk on blackboards alongside the freshly caught Specials of the Day. Inside every bustling pub window, your thirsty eyes are caught by the amber glint of yet another pint of ale. Enjoy our short photo-essay and join us as we wander Mayfair!
The peaceful, relaxed and upscale neighbourhood of Mayfair – no matter which side-street you choose to turn down, it seems always to lead to a beautiful, tree-lined avenue. Warm-brick manor homes, hanging baskets of vibrant flowers, interesting gargoyles & sculptures everywhere you look make for an interesting base. Mayfair is also incredibly pedestrian-friendly, offering wide sidewalks for strolling, and easy walking access to all the highlights downtown London has to offer, without needing to take a cab anywhere!
Many of Mayfair’s side streets hold small Church street markets, where locals gather to sell their arts & crafts, and share their passions with passers-by. Yummy food is also a highlight of these markets, don’t forget to indulge in some home-made fudge! Stopping to visit and browse will bond you with not only the friendly Mayfair residents, but will forge a connection with this community of proud artisans. Bring your wallet, stuffed with a little extra cash for some great, locally made souvenirs, and leave extra time on your stroll for some fun shopping & noshing in these small market squares!
The side-streets of Mayfair contain unexpected and charming sights; a casual meander through any of these neighbourhoods will reveal tiny, beautiful churches set amongst the quiet green of lush parks. Old, towering trees, babbling fountains & gorgeous statues will greet you at almost every turn. Seeing Mayfair by foot and with an open mind to exploring without a fear of getting lost is a must! You will love “losing yourself” in Mayfair.
Gorgeous, flower-bedecked pubs line the streets of Mayfair; each one beckons you inside to sample their own particular, delicious offerings. Gazing in through their squeaky-clean windows you can catch a glimpse of golden, amber ale glittering in large pints as patrons cheer their favorite “Football” or soccer stars on to glory. What we found oddly endearing was how tiny most of the pubs are, and how even tinier are their beloved TVs. Usually the small screens are hanging from up in a corner of the pub, and the Brits gather in crowds, standing, cheering and laughing, often spilling out through crowded doorways onto tiny, joyous patios.
Pick a patio, any patio, in Mayfair, and you will immediately be a part of the London Soccer Scene! Feasting on fresh “FishnChips” has never been more entertaining. Mayfair pubs are also some of the best places to people-watch, as the upwardly mobile stroll past. In Mayfair, only the fashion statements have changed over the years – the gentrified occupants have not. One thing we were not prepared for was the fantastic desserts we had in many of the London Pubs – Sticky Toffee Pudding has to be our favorite food find in London!
Deborah Thompson is Co-Founder of New Jetsetters with over 20 years experience writing about luxury travel. The first time Deb saw the turquoise blue waters surrounding Bermuda from the air as a child, she was smitten. Already in love with the written word and writing itself, a black leather-bound diary was soon filled with treasured memories of the charming island and her stay at the luxurious Elbow Beach Hotel. Since then she has travelled far and wide, and written dozens of stories and reviews on exotic locations from around the globe. Find out more about Deborah below: