Welcome to lovely, lovely Mayfair. Once a sleepy patch of grass used to farm local sheep, this incredibly smart corner of London is now one of its most elite areas. Check out our Mayfair taxi driver’s guide for some clues on where best to dine, drink and visit while you’re here. We’ll begin this guide with a small disclaimer: if you’re looking for hidden bargains, secret savings or discount diamonds, Mayfair’s probably not the best place to start. No, this is a place where not only London – but the world’s – jet set come to stay, shop and socialise. Cornered in between lively Soho, lush Hyde Park and the rather regal Buckingham Palace; Mayfair embraces all that is lavish and glamorous. But it wasn’t always this way. Mayfair was, as we mentioned, once a pastoral glade; an area that was widely untouched and uncivilised save for the occasional farmhouse. It wasn’t until the May Fair (a yearly two week long carnival celebration) was moved to the area from Haymarket that it started to find itself an identity. And when the Fair was eventually cancelled in 1764, the land was suddenly ripe for development. Of course it didn’t hurt being in what would eventually become the W1 postcode. Bridging a gap between the famous shopping arcades of Oxford Street and the palatial home of the British monarchy. Today you’ll find such extravagant hotels as The Dorchester and Grosvenor House on the highly desirable Park Lane (and Claridge’s “tucked away” not far behind them). The US, Canadian and Italian Embassies all interspersed around the area. Not to mention dozens of haute couture designer brands to keep the shoppers happy. Addison Lee have been serving Londoners for over 30 years the only way we know how: with a prompt, reliable and always safe service. A service you know you can rely on. Follow our Mayfair taxi driver’s guide to the area to uncover some of W1’s finest gems.
Where to drink
If you’re going to drink a Martini in Mayfair you better do it in the Connaught Bar. Set in one of London’s most exclusive hotels, the eponymous bar is one of three in the hotel itself. And while the Coburg is certainly worth an honorable mention, it’s the Connaught that has captured the hearts of so many. Looking like a Jay Gatsby dream, the entire bar is a lavish art deco phenomenon, ripe for one of his famous parties. So smart it’ll make your silver cufflinks rattle, this is the sort of place you imagine yourself living in forever. Or at least until you see the bill. We think it’s worth it, regardless.
Carlos Pl, W1K 2AL
They say all great things in life are worth scouring the streets of Mayfair for, and they’re not wrong. The Blind Pig is restaurant and bar ingenue Jason Atherton’s five star cocktail bar. And it’s located right above his Michelin starred restaurant, The Social Eating House for good measure. To get in, find the old “Opticians” sign in on Poland St and then look for a blindfolded pig doorknocker. Rattle the old hog and you’ll be let in. The whole place is decorated – as you may have already guessed – as a prohibition style speakeasy. While the drinks are utterly sensational. Creative beyond anything you’ve ever tried before, these guys are professional and genial to a fault. Honestly, it’s the ideal bar. Visit it. At once.
58 Poland St, W1F 7NR
London’s most famous and – quite possibly – its first real Tiki bar, Mahiki has been serving the adoring Mayfair crowd with oversized, brightly coloured and quite often ablaze drinks since 2005. It may have made its name through its popularity with celebrities and local glitterati, but what makes Mahiki so much fun is that they try not to discriminate. They don’t care what you wear or how much you earn, it’s an open door policy for one and all (within reason). The bar staff have all been hired to look as swarthy as they can, but they also come with a real sense of humour so be prepared for a touch of cheeky tiki banter.
1 Dover St, W1S 4LD
Where to eat
There’s a common assumption that if you’re going to be dining in a Gordon Ramsay establishment you’ll probably be obliged to fork over a fistful of cash at its conclusion. Not (completely) so in the case of the more casual Maze. Serving an innovative mish-mash of European and Asian cuisines, Maze manages to maintain the veneer of an upmarket Mayfair restaurant and yet somehow makes itself more accessible to the average diner. There are a number of different ways to attack your meal here. Either embrace the sushi and sashimi bar at the front; get stuck into a selection of mezze style smaller plates, or go for the outstanding taster menu. You can even get an express lunchtime menu for just £30. Not bad, not bad at all.
10-13 Grosvenor Square, W1K 6JP
Earlier on we mentioned Jason Atherton’s Michelin starred Social Eating House, so you may be wondering we’ve chosen to exclude it from the list. Well, we fancied a little diversity and who can blame us? The Little Social on Pollen St is the company’s French brasserie. It’s dark, lively and inviting. Just as you’d expect from any true Parisien bistro. Slip into the leather clad booths or take a smaller table, it doesn’t matter, you’ll melt into your meal either way. The food, and wine, and cocktails are all rather special here. With a careful balance being struck between haute cuisine and classic French rural dishes. The result is a meal you won’t want to walk away from.
5 Pollen St, W1S 1NE
What is Sketch? What isn’t Sketch, more like.. art gallery, cinema, bar, restaurant, the list goes on and on. What we’re going to focus on though is the utterly opulent, deliciously decadent Gallery restaurant. We should mention that there’s also the Michelin starred Lecture Room upstairs but it’s not quite as much fun. The Gallery is bright pink and completely fabulous. Looking like a scene out of a John Waters movie, the entirety of this tall room is laid out to make you feel special just for being there. The food is equally garish as it dares to tease and excite you with a whole range of fabulous flavours. Not for the lighthearted. Definitely for the adventurous.
9 Conduit St, W1S 2XG
What to do
Handel & Hendrix
There was a time when Handel & Hendrix was just a tribute to the old house of world renowned german composer George Frideric Handel. But by a near incredible coincidence, a certain Jimi Hendrix also once lived next door. So, in what turns out to be a fitting and romantic tribute to two of the greatest musicians who ever lived in London, they were brought together as Handel & Hendrix. Visit the rooms in which Handel composed and lived as a Londoner for nearly 30 years. Then pop across to check out the flat where Jimi used to jam and party with his friends. A real once in a lifetime coincidence, and opportunity.
25 Brook St, W1K 4HB
Anytime you’re finding the splendour and majesty of Mayfair a bit much. Rest safe in the knowledge that on its doorstep is London’s most famous park. As one of the city’s Royal Parks, Hyde Park is one of the largest in London. Stretching from the entrance of Kensington Palace right over to Green Park and Buckingham Palace. In it, you’ll find the Serpentine River, and The Long Water. Not to mention 350 acres of lush green expanses and woodland. You’ll also find Speaker’s Corner (always worth a visit), The Princess Diana memorial and the Holocaust memorial, to name but a few.
We’ve talked a lot about the many luxury shops and stores in Mayfair without ever really pointing you in anyone direction. Which is largely down to the fact that you just need to go outside to hit a designer label in the face. But for the sartorially elegant gentleman, there’s only one place to go: Savile Row. Since 1903 men in need of suits have come to the street in search of a truly magnificent outfit. And as the home of bespoke tailoring in London, they’ve been coming to the right place. It’s even believed the term ‘bespoke tailoring’ originated on Savile Row. The suits here are not cheap by a stretch, but you simply can’t do better anywhere in the world.