capital

The return of Mayfair

Mayfair is fast becoming the new promised land. The Sybarite has the low-down on the capital’s most luxurious postcode

Let’s face it: if we’re talking about which London playground to party in this Yuletide, we probably wouldn’t put Mayfair at the top of the list. 

But we’d be wrong. For while this corner of W1 was once a boggy meadow (circa 1675) before becoming, in 1686, associated with what authorities termed “lewd and disorderly practices” and subsequently (in a bid to refashion its image), old school stuffiness, fast forward to December 2016 and it’s all change. Make no mistake: Mayfair is fast becoming a playground for wealthy millennials -  a spot where Sybarites will want to stay and play post office hours.

Don’t believe us? Perhaps the fact that a 3,540 sq ft three-bedroom home on Park Lane was recently rented by wealthy students for £5,000 a week, will sway you… 80 Park Lane appeals “to an ultra-high net-worth person from the Middle East or Asia who wants to launch themselves into Mayfair society,” explains Peter Wetherell, chief executive of Wetherell, the Mayfair estate agents responsible for the plush property. Wetherell continues: “It’s leisure living, a business base and the ultimate address.”

Of course much of the Mayfair buzz right now revolves around The Araki (www.the-araki.com). Run by the famed sushi chef Mitsuhiro Araki, the UK’s most expensive restaurant recently merged as the big winner at the first ever Harden's London Restaurant Awards 2016.

Mitsuhiro Araki's eponymous restaurant won the Chapel Down award for offering London’s Top Gastronomic Experience beating off stiff competition from Brett Graham's Ledbury and Michel Roux's Le Gavroche.

The Araki’s chef-owner previously ran a three-Michelin starred sushi restaurant of the same name in Tokyo, but decided to relocate to London- specifically Mayfair - in 2015, to seek “new challenges.”

But The Araki isn’t the only restaurant to have put Mayfair back on the map. Kitty Fisher’s (www.kittyfishers.com) – the seriously haute dining spot (named after a Georgian-era courtesan) from Young British Foodie Chef of the Year 2014 Tomos Parry and former Pitt Cue Co sous chef Chris Leach – has wowed well heeled locals and critics in equal measure.

Case in point? Fay Maschler - the London Evening Standard’s indomitable food writer - has waxed lyrical about the wood fired menu (think salt cod croquettes, braised ox cheeks and pork chops washed down down with Bad Kitty cocktails in a historic Shepherd Market haunt – while The Telegraph’s Xanthe Clay has hailed Kitty Fisher’s as “the hottest restaurant in town”.

And Novikov (www.novikovrestaurant.co.uk) - the swanky Mayfair restaurant from Arkady Novikov (arguably the hottest man in the restaurant industry right now) - remains one of the hottest places to gather for dinner and drinks, not just in Mayfair but the entire city.

Elsewhere Chez Chow (www.naclondon.co.uk) – a decadent basement drinking den from the team behind North Audley Cantine – is delighting discerning drinkers.Named after the owners’ dog – Teddy the Chow Chow – this canine themed cocktail bar specialises in French-Asian fusion food and cocktails including a Homemade G&T with house fermented tonic, the Aged Old Fashioned aged in its own oak barrel and the Popcorn Sazerac.


Alternatively seek out Bar Eight - an uber glamorous new destination bar which offers the exclusivity of a members club, without the need for membership.

All told, there’s more - much, much more - to W12 than first meets the eye. Little wonder then that Daniel Defoe, the author of Robinson Crusoe, found himself fascinated by the postcode.“I passed an amazing scene of new foundations,” he wrote. “Not of houses only, but, as I might say, of new cities, new towns, new squares and fine buildings, the like of which no city, no town, nay no place in the world can show.”

London looks lovely in August

As regular readers will know, I have a love-hate relationship with London. To me the capital is akin to coffee. It has its perks (brilliant parks, carnivals, theatres, restaurant, museums and markets) but it can pose problems too (it’s crowded, dirty,  often unfriendly andeye-waveringly expensive).

Boundary rooftop - Long Table

But if there’s one month when London is, like caffeine, guaranteed to pick you up and leave you wanting more - regardless of whether you are a local or a tourist - it’s August.

In August the weather is good (even if it’s raining, temperatures will be warmer than winter) and the city empties out as put upon parents venture abroad with little Johnny and Jane, once the schools have broken up. For those of us left behind, London suddenly looks... well really rather lovely. For starters you can secure a seat on the tube - believe it or not - during rush hour. It’s amazing how something as simple sitting down for the duration of your journey from home to work (for which you have parted with a fiver), will put a smile on your face. And for an avid reader like me, an added bonus is being able to pick up a fresh copy of the Metro at any hour - not just pre 8am.

London

And those brilliant parks, carnivals, theatres, restaurants, art galleries,museums and markets I mentioned earlier? They’re a lot less busy too,meaning you can visit without the fear of getting crushed. My friend Simi and I recently ventured to Spitalfields market which is typically crammed with customers. However last Sunday it was noticeably sleepier and we were able to browse the boutiques and stalls without being pushed and shoved around (something we’re guilty of doing too!)

Perhaps because the capital is calmer during August, people are much more pleasant. Case in point? The big boss at one of the companies I have been working at recently, has taken it upon himself to pitch up at his employees desks every Friday at 4pm, armed with a generous jug of Pimms. If he insists...

Bizarrely my brother - a teacher by trade - tends to think that I’ll be miserable about being stuck in town when so many of our friends and family are fleeing. He's sorely mistaken. More fool them is my instinctive response, for August is easily my favourite month in London. And this year is no exception: I’m enjoying t-shirt temperatures (by both day and night) and the chance to soak up my city in a more relaxed manner.

lgpp31718+red-double-decker-bus-london-photography-poster

So if you’re leaving London in August, my message is this: there’s really no need to feel sorry for me and the other Londoners left behind at home. I’m still planning on following in your footsteps and frying myself silly, on a glorious stretch of golden sand - but it will be during winter when I want a break from the biting wind and months of unflattering thermal underwear, colds and chapped skin.

See you in September!