Nestled between Piccadilly and Curzon Street, Shepherd Market is a comparatively quiet haven of gorgeous eateries and high-end retailers smack in the centre of the priciest bit of London. Blink and you’ll miss it: Shepherd Market is a single thoroughfare by name but a village-like jumble of narrow side streets in reality, with every corner packed with eclectic cuisine and hidden shops and galleries.
In fact, this is where Mayfair started. Originally the centre of the 15-day market and festival that became Mayfair’s namesake, Shepherd Market was developed by local architect Edward Shepherd in the 1730s and ’40s. Despite (or maybe because of) its incredibly posh location, it went on to become one of the most notorious red-light areas in London: Jeffrey Archer started his controversial entanglement with sex worker Monica Coghlan here in 1987.
In other colourful local history, both The Who’s Keith Moon and Mama Cass Elliot from The Mamas & The Papas died in the same flat around the corner, four years apart. These days, Mayfair is better known for oligarchs’ mansions than doomed rock stars and sleazy scandals, but Shepherd Market hasn’t lost its cosy village atmosphere: it’s still perfect for those seeking some temporary refuge from city life.
Marinated black cod cooked on a traditional robata grill, a speciality at brand new Japanese joint Taka.
Classy comfort food from Caffe In: a homely lunchtime hotspot serving fishcakes and baked lasagne to bankers and foodies alike.
A blow-out payday dinner from Kitty Fisher’s, a five-star gem of a restaurant (with prices to match) named after an eighteenth-century courtesan.
Steak tartare from authentic French bistro Le Boudin Blanc. Franchement, relaxing here with a large glass of vin is the closest thing you’ll find to Parisian life this side of the Channel.
A well-kept real ale at Ye Grapes, a former centre for prostitution in the Victorian era. All that remains of that debauched period is the decor, they promise.
A G&T at The Market Tavern, an unpretentious nineteenth-century bolthole on Shepherd Street where a round won’t cost an arm and a leg.
Premium wine at Shepherd Market Wine House. There are 250 varieties to choose from, 20 of which are available by the glass. Enjoy a large one inside the cosy bar or take a bottle (or five) away.
A grilled salmon at reasonably priced (shock, horror!) Shepherd Street Mediterranean eatery Sofra. Be sure to check out the affordable and oddly named After Brexit menu.
Catch a film at the Curzon Mayfair around the corner on Curzon Street. It opened in 1934 and if you’re feeling really flash, you can book a royal box in Screen One.
Get a shave (not too close) at olde London-inspired barbershop Jack the Clipper.
Some art from Imitate Modern gallery, where artist Ed Ball is collaborating with Marylebone nightclub Beat, or sculpture specialists Hignell Gallery.
A classy leather satchel from luxury brand Tanner Krolle. Princes William and Harry got their school trunks from here, doncha know?
And if you only do one thing…
Head down for the lovely Shepherd Market Christmas lights, a far cry from the madness of Oxford Street. John Cleese will be flicking the switch this year on Thursday December 7.