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Mayfair area guide

Discover the finest restaurants, bars and pubs in Mayfair, peruse the shops or get pampered at the finest spas and find plenty of things to do in W1

Mayfair is named after the May fair that was held there for almost 100 years, until it was banned from the area in 1764. Now Mayfair is a carnival for the rich and powerful. Its shops are temples to luxury goods, and its restaurants are among the finest in the country. When visitors tire of eating well and trying on designer clothes, they can have a drink in an exclusive Mayfair bar or relax in one of Mayfair's many sumptuous hotels.

What are your favourite Mayfair haunts? Let us know in the comments.

Love London Awards: this year's winners

COYA
Restaurants Book online

COYA

Venue says: Make the most of your lunchtime with our new express lunch menu and indulge yourself in exquisite food and pairing wines.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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sketch  Parlour
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sketch Parlour

‘Comfort food’, cocktails and afternoon tea are the mainstays of Sketch’s most egalitarian dining area. You can walk into Parlour without a booking, and it’s open early until late (although it’s members only after 9pm), making a great introduction to the always-surprising world of this expensively refurbed Georgian townhouse. When Sketch opened almost ten years ago, it was the decor that grabbed the headlines – maximalist, opulent, over the top, playful, arty and original. There’s still constantly something new to attract the eye: a saucily embroidered sofa, a mid-century tea set, a hopscotch court painted in the entrance hall. And the toilets are the most extraordinary in London. It’s all brilliant fun. That our evaluation of the cooking comes so late in this review might tell you that food isn’t the most important part of the operation. Although the afternoon tea is classy, lunch – familiar dishes such as macaroni cheese, beef tartare, smoked salmon bagel – is merely decent and doesn’t begin to justify the hefty prices. Superstar chef Pierre Gagnaire’s creative touch is more evident in dishes such as the ‘club sandwich’, with thai mayonnaise and ‘sweet and sour coriander onions’. Occasionally forgetful service comes from a series of stunners, who can be haughty.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Hedonism Wines
Shopping

Hedonism Wines

Was there ever a better, or more apt, name for a high-end wine store? For Hedonism really is the ultimate in wine indulgence – two floors of the most covetable, most sought-after, and most expensive wines on the planet, all under one roof and beautifully displayed in a swanky Mayfair showroom that looks like it ought to be selling Bentleys or jewels. But don’t be put off by the shiny, opulent appearance – the staff are very helpful, and are happy to let you try some of the fabulous wines served in tiny measures from their impressive wine preservation system (for a small fee, of course). But if just the presence of stacks of jeroboams worth thousands of pounds, or of seeing bottles by the big-name producers lined up for your perusal is enough to get you excited, then maybe a visit to Hedonism should go on bucket list. Heck, they even sell a few bottles costing under £30, so you needn’t come away empty-handed.   Reviewed by Guy Dimond

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Royal Academy of Arts
Art

Royal Academy of Arts

Britain's first art school was founded in 1768 and moved to the extravagantly Palladian Burlington House a century later. It is now best known for the galleries. Expect to pay for blockbusters (like 2008's popular 'From Russia' show) in the Sackler Wing or main galleries, while shows in the John Madejski Fine Rooms are drawn from the RA's holdings – ranging from Constable to Hockney – and are free. The Royal Academy's biggest event is the Summer Exhibition, which for more than two centuries has drawn from works entered by the public as well its Royal Academicians. The nozzles of the courtyard fountain are layed out to match the position of the stars and planets on the night in 1723 when Sir Joshua Reynolds, artist and RA Founding President, was born.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Icebar London
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Icebar London

This long-standing Mayfair spot pretty much does what it says on the tin: it's an icy bar. It's kept at -5C, with visitors given thermal boots and jackets to keep the cold at bay. Each session lasts 40 minutes, and should be booked in advance.  Drinks – served in tumblers made of ice – include a stairway to heaven (Pommery Champagne, Aperol and grapefruit bitters) and a living on a prayer (Absolut Citron, pink grapefruit liqueur, cranberry juice, lemon juice and orange bitters). There's an upstairs restaurant and lounge, too. The food menu here features dishes such as ham hock ballotine, rabbit pie, a house burger, flat iron steak and a chicken, red wine and bacon casserole with a bourguignon garnish and garlic mash. Desserts include an orange panna cotta with meringue, orange candy and hazelnuts, as well as carrot cake served with edible soil and mascarpone cream. 

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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See the full results of this year's Love London Awards

Things to do in Mayfair

Handel House Museum
Museums

Handel House Museum

The Handel House Museum is currently undergoing building works ahead of a relaunch in February 2016, at which point the museum will be renamed Handel & Hendrix in London. The house at Number 25 that served as Handel's home between 1723 and his death in 1759, where he composed his 'Messiah', 'Music for the Royal Fireworks' and several operas, is a museum devoted to the composer's life and work, presented in the context of the London he knew. Up until now, the neighbouring house at Number 23 where rock legend Jimi Hendrix lived between 1968 and 1969 has been used as offices for the museum. From February 10th however, the upper floors will be returned to their original state using archive photos and films, and visitors will be able to explore the site in which Hendrix penned some of his best-loved songs. A new permanent exhibition will also feature, with photos of the home during the 60s on display alongside his acoustic guitar. Music-inspired family activities, lectures and concerts are a regular feature of the museum's current programme, with talks taking place on Saturday afternoons on subjects including costumes, paintings, music and London in the eighteenth century.  Find out more about the relaunch on the Time Out Blog. 

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Royal Institution of Great Britain
Things to do

Royal Institution of Great Britain

The Royal Institution was founded in 1799 for ‘diffusing the knowledge… and application of science to the common purposes of life’; from behind its neoclassical façade, it’s been at the forefront of London’s scientific achievements ever since. In 2008, Sir Terry Farrell completed a £22m rebuild, inside and out, with the brief of improving accessibility and finding ways to lure people inside. The result is a more open frontage, a restaurant, a bar and a café. The Michael Faraday Laboratory, a complete replica of Faraday’s former workspace, is in the basement, alongside a working laboratory in which RI scientists can be observed researching their current projects. Some 1,000 of the RI’s 7,000-odd scientific objects are on display, including the world’s first electric transformer, a prototype Davy lamp and, from 1858, a print of the first transatlantic telegraph signal. The RI also holds a terrific rolling programme of talks and demonstrations in its lecture theatre, most famously at Christmas.

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