Arriving in London in September 2019, I was blissfully unaware that my first few months settling into a city on the other side of the world—months which coincided with the UK’s seemingly never-ending winter—would be the most normal to date.
At the same time, the Mayfair Townhouse was being built in the heart of Mayfair across 15 townhouses, including seven Georgian listed buildings. The luxury hotel would open its doors briefly in December 2020, before quickly closing them again for yet another lockdown. The word unprecedented has been mentioned too many times to describe the past 16 months, but for the travel and tourism industry, there’s not much else that describes the chaos of Covid-19 quite so perfectly.
Though travel is still limited in and out of the UK, restricting the rooms of the Mayfair Townhouse to those living in or near London, the hotel has now finally properly opened its doors to guests, revealing a stunningly designed boutique space, created with the former residents of Half Moon Street in the old part of Georgian Mayfair—such as Oscar Wilde and his contemporaries—in mind.
For someone whose experiences in the city have been, for the most part, limited to that of sights to see in Hackney, East London, I don’t think there could be anywhere more perfect than the Mayfair Townhouse to get a taste of London as it’s meant to be. Situated on the border of the immaculate Green Park and a stone’s throw away from Buckingham Palace and the city’s best restaurants and art galleries, the Mayfair Townhouse is both a place to rest in between seeing the best of the city, as well as a sight in its own right.
Mayfair is now one of the most expensive areas in the country but it wasn’t always the case. Back in Victorian London it was a bohemian hotspot and the heart of the city’s gay scene filled with creatives, writers, poets and actors. Describing its aesthetic as Oscar Wilde meets Alice in Wonderland, the Mayfair Townhouse celebrates the free-loving and mischievous spirit that was first found in the area. Not only did Wilde live on the same street, but it was a setting for his most famous play, The Importance of Being Earnest—copies of which can be found on the bedside table in each room.
The uniqueness of the hotel is down to British hospitality and interior design studio Goddard Littlefair, who were tasked with restoring the interiors of the townhouses with each corner ending up unique and full of personality—not one room is the same as another—and exuding 1920s extravagance by referencing the bygone eccentric and glamorous era.
Upon entering the lobby, the first thing guests see is a shiny peacock sculpture in the lobby covered in 25,000 Swarovski crystals. The staff, I was told, have playfully named the bird Alfie after Wilde’s secret lover, a theme that continues throughout the hotel.
The aptly named Dandy Bar (in tribute to the dandies who have graced the neighbourhood through time) catches your eye next, welcoming guests through always open glass doors. Created to be a space where people can escape the business of the city for cocktails, wine and nibbles in a relaxing, ambient area, the bar is dimly lit and complete with bespoke furnishings that include printed velvets and leathers with marble, brass and high gloss timbers as base finishes.
On Saturday evening at 6pm, we enjoyed the ambience—every table was full, which made the bar feel almost like real, pre-pandemic life (if it weren’t for the space between groups and masks on display), while drinking two of the bar’s signature cocktails: the Mr. Boise (named after Oscar Wilde’s lover), made with either gin or vodka and topped with house champagne cordial and artemisia jelly, and The Casanova, made with Sabatini Gin, Venetian Aperitif, Lemon, Poli Grappa and a top of Prosecco. While we drank and soaked up both the alcohol and atmosphere, we ate delicious small plates of Padron peppers, truffle and parmesan arancini balls, and Jerusalem artichoke croquettes.
We were introduced to Dianna Bera, the hotel’s concierge and one of only a few women in the Clefs d’Ors (Golden Keys) association (the best of the best of concierge), who has the keys to the city wrapped around her neck. This includes all of the city’s hottest restaurants on speed dial and special access to spots that usually need to be reserved months in advance.
But instead of venturing out, we opted to stay in the Dandy Bar and eat from the menu, which, despite the Mayfair Townhouse insisting it doesn’t have a restaurant (rather, guests are encouraged to make the most of the area and all its offerings), included Chewton Glen’s famous lobster curry, prawn linguine and the townhouse’s take on tiramisu, which was one of the best I’ve eaten to date.
Breakfast—a seasonal help-yourself pantry as well as dishes like buttermilk pancakes and baked eggs and chorizo—is served downstairs. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to snag a seat in The Den, a small room panelled and painted red, lined with fitted seating and layers of artworks hung all over the walls.
As for the rooms, as I mentioned earlier, thanks to the fusing of 15 separate townhouses, none is quite the same as another. The smallest of the bunch—the Cabin Room—is cosy and compact, with a queen-size bed and work desk, complimentary minibar and Nespresso machine, as well as a lovely bathroom. For those who want to splash out, the Garden Suites come complete with their own walled gardens for a taste of the English countryside in the centre of the city. There’s also a room with a spiral staircase leading to a loft, those with balconies overlooking London and a few with skylights that open up to let ample light inside. The double sinks and standalone bathtubs are both pristine.
Whether you want a taste of old Mayfair or new, Mayfair Townhouse is the new hot place to stay in London. And even if you successfully manage to venture out away from the comfort of the Dandy Bar, save room for tiramisu.
Book your stay at the Mayfair Townhouse here.