Short Break - The May Fair Hotel, Mayfair, London
PUBLISHED: 00:00 02 November 2013
There's posh, and then there's the May Fair. We checked out the hotel which shares a name (almost) with one of the world's most select neighbourhoods
We learn from a very early age that Mayfair is the bee’s knees, the must-have, the place where life’s winners land, then eagerly part with cash for title deeds, and build little green houses and big red hotels.
In life, as in Monopoly, Mayfair is the quintessence of success. To stay in The May Fair, the five-star hotel which shares the district’s name, feels like rolling the dice and seeing your lucky number come up.
In the cool, studied sophistication of the lobby, with its armies of attentive staff, you get a wonderful notion of just what an international city London is - shopping parties from oil-rich Middle Eastern states, a couple of African businessmen talking shop, a burly American complaining about the prices in Britain’s capital.
Step out of The May Fair and it is a short stroll to one of the world’s high-end shopping meccas at another sought-after Monopoly address, Bond Street, with every conceivable swanky designer name represented, and more expensive jewellery shops than you could shake a Swarovski-encrusted stick at. Also nearby are such other world-famous names in the hospitality industry as Claridge’s, the Dorchester and The Ritz.
Instead of window-shopping, though, we tore ourselves away from our studio suite at The May Fair, with its sumptuous art deco styling and its cavernous bathroom of marble and mirrors, and walked across Green Park to see how the even-posher neighbours live at Buckingham Palace, then returned via the royals’ local shop, Fortnum & Mason. Could you live on nothing but their wares? It would be fun finding out.
The May Fair is now 86 years old, but freshened up with a $150m renovation in 2006. The cosmopolitan nature of the clientele is reflected in the restaurant. Quince is a jangling mix of rich oranges, greens and blues, tile and plush upholstery, Middle Eastern ornamentation and studded leather chairs - almost like a gentlemen’s club designed with sultans in mind.
The food is an equally adept exercise in internationalism. Among the highlights in our meal: a camomile smoked mackerel pate with pickled beetroot and pea puree, a fabulously more-ish bouillabaise with clams and red snapper, and an eight-hour braised belly of pork with crispy pig’s head fritters and prune and golden raisin puree. There is even a Quince burger, served on a brioche bun with mint raita. Very tasty it was too, though at £16, it may have given that cost-conscious burly American another cause for complaint. We loved it.
The May Fair hotel is at Stratton Street, London W1J 8LT, 0207 629 7777, www.themayfairhotel.co.uk. Booking in advance, a superior twin or double room would cost from around £230 per night.
We travelled to London courtesy of Virgin Trains. Typical journey time is 2hrs 7mins, and Virgin runs trains every 20 minutes, six and a half days a week - 46 trains north and 47 south every weekday.
Booking in advance and travelling off-peak can bring the price of an advance single fare as low as £12.50. Go to www.virgintrains.com, phone 0871 977 4222 or get the Virgin Trains app for your mobile phone.