Half Moon Street was built in the 1700s and became known as a colourful hangout for artistic, bohemian types in Victorian London. It’s where Algernon Moncrieff, from Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, lived. It makes sense then, that now it is home to the quirky, theatrical Mayfair Townhouse.
Everything about the hotel feels special, from the marbled floors in reception to the plush carpet of the hallways to the fox-shaped door knockers for every room. The elegant, surreal artwork that graces the reception, rooms and hallways, the recurring fox motif (it’s the hotel’s mascot), the way staff know your name when they greet you at the door... it’s the little details, in everything from the attention paid to customers to the décor, that make the hotel come alive.
Our room was home to what is quite possibly the most decadent bed I have ever slept in. The décor was classy and understated, luxurious yet cosy. Light streamed in through windows that offer excellent views of London streets. The best feature, however, was the bathroom. It featured a gorgeous stand-alone bath, deep enough to sink your whole body into, and an incredible walk-in shower. The heated floors, the plush robes, and the chilled bottle of Veuve Clicquot made getting ready for dinner at The Dandy Bar quite an experience.
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The Dandy Bar is the heart of the hotel. It is touted as the place to see and be seen in, attracting Mayfair’s chicest residents and moneyed tourists alike. It is flamboyant and opulent but, even so, manages to remain cosy and welcoming, a secluded oasis from the busy streets of central London. If the ambience isn’t enough to draw you away from the hustle and bustle, the food and drinks will. One sip of a cocktail, one bite of arancini, and everyday worries melt away.
They started us off with charred padrón peppers, coated in thick salt and an orange glaze, crispy Jerusalem artichoke croquettes with salsa verde on the side, and creamy truffle and parmesan arancini. The small plates were all perfectly executed. To follow, my guest ordered the Med salad, made up of Moroccan couscous, broccoli, cashew nuts and a spiced-curry dressing. Her favourite part of the dish was the orange segments that provided an unexpected and refreshing twist.
I chose the chicken cobb salad, with chopped roast chicken, creamy mozzarella and chickpeas, and a dressing I need to learn to make at home. For dessert, get the tiramisu – even though I had to pass: I was bursting at this point, but I regret not going for a walk and coming back to sink my spoon into one. The restaurant also serves burgers and sandwiches, all of which smelled delicious as they were paraded past us to the busy tables nearby.
Alongside the exquisite meal, we had a few of the signature cocktails. The standouts were the “Green Carnation”, a mixture of white rum, lemon, maca ginseng and pistachio soda, which was light and nutty. My plus-one had the “Casanova”, a punchy combination of gin, lemon and grappa topped off with Prosecco.
Breakfast was just as well thought-out as everything else. Served in the Den, a room with red walls and soft seats, there was a breakfast bar, offering health foods like chia pudding and “overnight” oats as well as milk alternatives, fresh fruit and pastries. If you want something heartier, there is of course a full English breakfast on the menu, as well as eggs on toast, buttermilk pancakes and baked eggs with chorizo.
A home away from home
The hotel opened for a short period of time in December 2020, but was forced to shut because of coronavirus restrictions shortly after. Its doors are now back open, which is good news for all of us.
I can’t recommend The Mayfair Townhouse enough, and can’t sing its wonderful staff’s praises highly enough. It’s a collection of 15 Georgian town houses – smack dab in the middle of London, with the West End and Piccadilly close by – that manages to feel like an upscale home away from home.
Nicole was a guest of The Mayfair Townhouse. Prices from £252 per night.
Nic studied for a BA in journalism at Cardiff University, and has an MA in magazine journalism from City University. She joined MoneyWeek in 2019.
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