Half Moon Street, in Mayfair, London rose in notoriety (and high society) when Oscar Wilde set his “trivial comedy for serious people” The Importance of Being Earnest there. Over a century later, the iconic central London thoroughfare is the talk of the town once again, as spanning it are the 15 gorgeous, Georgian townhouses that have been reimagined into The Mayfair Townhouse, an elegant luxury hotel that is unashamedly proud of its dandy connections.
Mayfair may not be a go-to for those seeking out a bohemian vibe in the British capital today – with its world-renowned reputation for luxury, elegance and sophistication – but once upon a time, it was the vibrant centre of the city’s Arts scene, a playground for high society ‘bachelors’ (and their playthings) and the birthplace of the ‘peacocking’ dandy, immortalised by none other than Oscar Wilde himself.
Celebrating that spirit of hooray hedonism is the Mayfair Townhouse, a grandiose and ambitious renovation occupying at least half of the roadway running from Picadilly and Green Park to Curzon Street.
Entering the property, we encountered a colourful and resplendent imaginarium of London hospitality. The interior design inspiration – delivered exquisitely by British design firm Goddard Littlefair – clearly borrowed much from the Aesthetic Movement of the author’s life and times, albeit with a contemporary take and more modern comforts ensured.
True to the movement, art and the appreciation of beauty in art clearly takes centre stage at the Mayfair Townhouse. Throughout the hotel, pieces of art and sculptures curated by art specialist Minda Dowling, come together into a collection that is charismatic, whimsical and (if the portraits of fantastic foxes in the hotel’s basement, scarlet-hued dining den is anything to go by), mischievous.
We spent hours admiring award-winning British artist Miss Aneilia’s avant-garde fine-art-meets-fashion-photography pieces and were bewildered by Ant Fox’s work too – that at first glance seem like old, oil-painted portraits, but on closer inspection will reveal something far more modern, like an iPad or drone. There is one piece that you just can’t (or won’t) miss, sure to set the tone for a good-time stay at the Mayfair Townhouse – and that’s Clarita Brinkerhoff’s peacock sculpture that greeted us in the lobby, sparkling with tens of thousands of Swarovski crystals – the exact number we are unsure of, as every friendly team-member at the hotel provides a different count. Its name? Alfie, after Oscar Wilde’s lover Lord Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas.
Right on time
LHR / LCY
While you’re Out There
Shepherd Market – and its village-like atmosphere, with boutique stores, buzzy eateries and old, Victorian-era pubs set around a charming, cobbled, Georgian Square – is a very short walk from the hotel, perfect for an afternoon or evening out.
At first, all this characterisation may seem over the top, but in the spirit of Wilde, storytelling is at the hotel’s heart and just like a good pageturner, we quickly found ourselves sucked-in. We were even invited to ‘meet’ the hotel’s resident playboys for a drink at its aptly named, The Dandy Bar where the indulgent Victorian vibe has been revived in a way that is whimsical, yet sophisticated and frankly, earnest. In this intimate, but sumptuous art-deco bar, the hotel’s head mixologist has developed experimental cocktail concoctions (named appropriately to capture the personality of each dandy) paired perfectly with delicious menu items (including a lobster curry made famous by the hotel’s sister property Chewton Glen). Pre-dinner drinks soon turned into a fully experiential, yet informal, culinary affair.
At the end of the night, we escaped tipsy, through the hotel’s labyrinthine corridors to our signature Skylight Suite – a well-appointed room and private Mayfair residence that comes complete with (you guessed it) a skylight that reveals itself at a touch of a button. We romanticised the idea of an evening of stargazing, but it’s only really good for glimpses of midnight clouds over London. If you’re visiting in the height of summer, we’d recommend the hotel’s Garden Suite, it features a private patio and while in a similar configuration, it doesn’t have the greenhouse effect that our Skylight Suite did … in the albeit rare summer sunshine over London. If you rather be upstairs than downstairs, then you could opt for the other signature suite categories – the Fifth Floor Suite and Loft Suite.
We enjoyed a bottle of champagne come bathtime while soaking in our luxurious roll-top bath, but our favourite amenity was at bedtime: a fresh copy of The Importance of Being Earnest on our nightstand. We rested assured in our belief that the play’s protagonist, Algernon Moncrieff, would have loved it here.