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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.

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sketch Gallery

‘Why have less when you can have more?’ is the attitude at Sketch, Pierre Gagnaire’s wonderfully OTT gastronomic playground for well-heeled scenesters. Now a decade old, the Gallery (the more casual of Sketch’s two main dining offerings) had a revamp in early 2012, with input from Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed. Since then artist David Shrigley, another Turner Prize winner, has put his own stamp on the restaurant space. Shrigley's work is everywhere. The walls are adorned almost edge to edge with Shrigley's strange, funny and often satirical childlike drawings. You can season your food with Shrigley designed shakers including 'dirt' (pepper), 'dust' (salt) or 'nothing' (true to its label, it contains nothing). Gagnaire has overhauled the menu, but has kept the trademark global vibe, drawing on influences from Japan, Italy, Spain and Britain – all underpinned by French cuisine. Modern classics, such as the 63ºC egg, conceived by French chemist Hervé This, are a strong suit, but Asian-inspired dishes don’t always hit such culinary high notes. There’s a proper sense of creativity to the menu, from a sea bass paillard with artichokes and seaweed to the playful ‘big mac’ dessert – a lemongrass macaroon on sweet wine jelly with grapefruit marmalade. It isn’t cheap, but if you scour the menu, you’ll find items less taxing to the wallet. The wine list is imaginatively chosen, and service is sweet and switched-on. Ten years on, this is still a place with wow factor.  

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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The Punchbowl

Once part-owned by Guy Ritchie, this Mayfair pub and dining room is now in new hands. The ground floor pub serves a number of real ales and single-malt Scotch whiskies. Bar snacks are also available, alongside a food menu featuring rare breed steaks, a White Park steak tartare, fish and chips and baked Cornish lobster. The first floor dining room offers a menu featuring dishes such as Hampshire quail breast and leg served with Morteau sausage, cauliflower and sauce Sauternes, and pine-smoked Yorkshire venison loin served with artichoke, candied cocoa nibs and a juniper berry jus. A set menu is available, too.  The global wine list has been put together by Master of Wine, Tim Atkin. There are 20 whites, 29 reds and 16 sparkling options, alongside four sweet and fortified wines. More than 20 from the list are available by the glass.  The Punchbowl also plays host to various events, including wine tasting sessions with Tim Atkins, butchery master classes and seasonal activities. Private dining is available, too.   

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Things to do in Mayfair

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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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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