On a whistle-stop tour of London (en route from Paris to Liverpool), I learnt that the best travel experiences are often discovered during the journey, not just at the final destination.
Steeped in history and sophistication, London’s Mayfair doesn’t offer the usual tourist trappings of loud bars and dance clubs – it has chic wine bars and sophisticated scotch lounges. Bounded by iconic Hyde Park to the west and the West End to the east, Mayfair’s noble neighbours (just down the road at Buckingham Palace) merely increase the appeal of its already captivating charm. From grand high streets to historic boutiques, the area is home to some of London’s most celebrated hot spots. There is certainly no better place to spend 24 hours experiencing London life than Mayfair.
Look no further than The Chesterfield Mayfair, your exclusive home away from home. Enviably located in central Mayfair, this four-star Regency style hotel feels like a traditional gentlemen’s club – even your pooch is welcome, and will be offered their own luxurious bed plus a goodie bag with a toy, treats and clean-up bags presented in a handmade pouch (but of course). Dating from the mid 1700s, the residence has enjoyed a rich history in the heart of Mayfair with aristocrats, distinguished military, politicians and prominent London businessmen having called its luxurious surrounds home. Upgrade to one of the 13 suites (email ahead to reserve The Philippe Suite – yes, it’s worth it!) for a true Mayfair experience.
Take a walk along Piccadilly past The Ritz on your way to breakfast at The Wolseley. Considered one of London’s best dining spots, the restaurant is one of the most beautiful and desired throughout London. Built in 1921 as a prestigious car showroom, you will enjoy your pancakes and latte amongst the elite in the glamorous Grade II listed building.
160 Piccadilly London W1J 9EB
After breakfast, walk off your pancakes with a stroll down towards St James’s Park. Be sure to walk across the famous Blue Bridge (found in the middle of St James’s Park Lake) for your picture-perfect moment of Buckingham Palace on one side, or turn around for a shot of Horse Guards Parade and the London Eye. If you time it right, you may even be able to watch the Changing of the Guard.
Head up The Mall towards Trafalgar Square for a visit to the National Portrait Gallery. The gallery houses the world’s largest collection of personalities and faces, from the late Middle Ages to the present day. It is an amazing experience to come face to face with the people who have shaped British history, from kings and queens to musicians and film stars.
I suggest starting your visit with the Tudors and then making your way through to the modern day works.
Go for a wander through the back streets of Mayfair and Soho as you make your way to Bond Street. From Bond Street you can window-shop, or ‘window lick’ as the French would say, your way up to Oxford Street and Regent Street.
Must-visits in Mayfair:
Dover Street – Acne Studios, Dover Street Market
Burlington Arcade – select a new signature scent at Frederic Malle (for fans of rose scents, one simply can’t go past Portrait of a Lady or Une Rose) and then celebrate with a macaron at the gold-encrusted Ladurée.
While in Soho:
Liberty – enter via the florist at the street entrance (simply a must) and enjoy wandering through the Tudor-style mansion.
After Liberty, wind your way through the streets of Soho to uncover all sorts of delights and uber-cool boutiques. Stop off for an Aussie coffee at antipodean coffee shop Flat White, where you can also find a vegemite and cheese toastie (if you’re desperately seeking a taste of home).
Enjoy some afternoon tea at Sketch, which will have you posing with your posse in the pink parlour. Make sure to visit the bathrooms at some point (seriously, don’t miss it).
9 Conduit St, London W1S 2XG
For something more traditional, a visit to Claridge’s is also a must for any fair lady. If Sam is tinkering on the ivories (a dashing bloke from Hobart), he will take requests. Simply write the song title on a napkin before discretely slipping it into an ivory-gloved hand. Then sit back and enjoy. One final tip: afternoon tea is “bottomless”, so request to have your three-tier stand refilled before politely asking to take the remaining treats with you (they make for an excellent midnight snack). They’ll come presented in a luxurious box, detailed with a gold-foiled Claridge’s emblem, velvet handle and matching tassel.
Brook St, London W1K 4HR
Make your way back to the Chesterfield Mayfair, head straight to the bar and spend the remainder of the afternoon indulging in a Gin Experience. What will ensue is a guided tasting of three gins (some from iconic distilleries a stone’s throw from your very seat), expertly matched with various tonics and garnishes. The favourite combination by far is the Martin Millers – I won’t give away what it is matched with! This is definitely not to be missed. Book a tasting during check-in (and request James).
Head south across the Thames to Aqua Shard for panoramic views of the city from the 31st floor of The Shard. No booking necessary and it’s the perfect way to enjoy the skyline without the hordes of tourists. Try to get a spot closest to the windows to overlook London Bridge and the Tower of London.
32 London Bridge St, London SE1 9SG
Enjoy a little razzle-dazzle with London’s elite and soak up the surrounding grandeur with dinner in the most beautiful dining hall (akin to Hogwarts) at Berners Tavern in Fitzrovia, just off Oxford Street.
10 Berners St, W1T 3LF
Hit up Ronnie Scott’s, one of the world’s most famous jazz clubs hosting some of the best jazz and blues musicians from across the globe. You may even be lucky enough to see some special guest appearances.
47 Frith St, London W1D 4HT
Hail a black cab and head back to The Chesterfield Hotel for a nightcap in the bar (if you’re still feeling social) or adjourn to your suite. Don a fluffy robe, pour yourself a sherry (compliments of the turndown service) and relax on the chaise lounge before you retire to your feather-soft four-poster bed.
If you don’t feel like breakfast in bed, head instead for breakfast in Bombay at Dishoom. As you cross the threshold, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to 1930s India. Dishoom is best known for their bacon and egg naan accompanied by bottomless chai tea.
The Chesterfield London is a luxury boutique four-star hotel in Mayfair, London, and is part of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection. Double rooms start from $442 per night, with suites available from $975 per night. All accommodation includes breakfast. This article was originally published in Latte magazine.