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Mayfair is a small neighbourhood in London that’s an upscale hub for art, history, and culture lovers. It’s bordered by several of London’s famous high streets and leafy parks, making it a busy and beautiful area of the city.
It’s known for its high-end appeal and contains attractions like art galleries, museums, designer boutiques and posh eateries. Although it’s important to point out that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy your time here, there are plenty of ways that thrifty travellers can enjoy their time in Mayfair too.
This is your guide to discovering the area. Let’s get into the best things to do in Mayfair.
So, where is Mayfair in London exactly? Well, it’s located in the borough of Westminster, in the West End. It’s near the edge of Hyde Park and is neighbours with the districts of historic St James’s, charming Marylebone, and energetic Soho.
Mayfair is known for being a posh area of London. It’s one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in the UK and contains many pricey properties. A fun fact is that on the standard British Monopoly board, Mayfair is the most expensive property listed.
If you like games, check out this luxurious Mayfair exploration game. Using your phone, you follow clues and solve puzzles as you discover the area’s highlights.
Mayfair is a relatively small area, but it’s full of exciting attractions, from a unique music museum to a beautiful garden square and several local art galleries and creative restaurants.
I’ve included all the top things to do as well as some attractions just outside of the district you’ll want to check out. But don’t worry, they’re still within easy walking distance. Let’s get into the top things to do in the Mayfair area.
Bond Street is a luxury shopping destination that’s a haven for society’s wealthiest people. It houses some of the world’s most exclusive brands selling everything from designer fashion to fine jewellery and expensive antiques.
Bond Street is split into two sections, Old Bond Street and New Bond Street. The latter runs through Mayfair and contains high-end retailers like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, Prada, etc. Basically, all the world’s top brands have a shop on Bond Street.
Regent Street is a major shopping street in London that runs for about 0.8 miles (1.3 km). It was laid out in 1819, making it one of the first planned developments in the city.
It’s a distinctive hub of fashion, dining, and lifestyle and is well-known for its flagship stores, like Hamleys toy store, Liberty London, and English fashion brand Jaeger.
There are also countless international brands with options for all budgets. If you want to make a day out of shopping, you’ll find plenty of eateries, bars, and cafes where you can take a break and recharge.
Stroll Down Oxford Street
Oxford Street is one of London’s famous shopping streets. It has a little bit of everything, from high-end jewellers to designer boutiques and department stores. There are around 300 stores, and you could spend the whole day (or even more) shopping.
When you need a break, the street is also home to an abundance of restaurants, pubs, and cafes. Even if you’re just window shopping, its high-energy and attractive window displays make it a must-visit site in London.
If you’re visiting the city in December, it’s also one of the best places to see Christmas lights in London. The whole street is decked out in a dazzling display of holiday lights.
Burlington Arcade is yet another one of the area’s high-end retail destinations. The covered shopping arcade is a precursor to the modern-day shopping mall. It opened in 1819 and, from the beginning, established itself as an upmarket shopping destination selling luxury goods.
It runs 196 yards (179 metres) long and contains a string of small boutiques selling things like jewellery, clothing, footwear, accessories, art, and antiques.
You can expect practically everything to come with a high price tag. However, if you don’t want to spend money, it’s still worth visiting to admire the architecture.
You’ll also get to see the workers who patrol the arcade, who are known as beadles. They wear traditional uniforms, including frock coats and top hats. If you’re visiting London at Christmastime, the arcade decorates its long passageway with festive baubles and twinkling lights.
Hyde Park is one of the best parks in London to visit if you fancy a break from the busyness of the city. There are many places to relax and de-stress; you’ll find quiet walking paths, a lake to sit next to, and benches by scenic viewpoints.
The Princess Diana Memorial Fountain is located inside the park. Lots of open green spaces surround the water feature. It’s a beautiful spot to relax, especially on a warm day. Enjoy a picnic, read a book, or just sit and people watch.
The historic Speaker’s Corner is another excellent area to visit; it’s located on the northeast edge. This area has been a key feature of the park since the 19th century. Some of history’s most notable figures, like Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and George Orwell, have all used this area to demonstrate free speech.
Lastly, if you’re travelling with kids, there are several playgrounds and a Peter Pan statue in the park that little ones will appreciate.
The Royal Academy of Arts is set in a beautiful Palladian mansion and regularly hosts rotating art exhibitions. The items on display come from all over the world. Many are from notable artists, with past collections including the works of names like Francis Bacon and David Hockney.
Some of the exhibitions are free to attend, while others charge an entrance fee. Make sure to check out their online calendar before you arrive, so you know what to expect. If you’re an art-lover, you’ll definitely appreciate this attraction in Mayfair.
If you’re a fan of contemporary art, Sadie Coles HQ will be right up your alley. The gallery features the work of established and emerging artists from around the world. The space is minimalist and contains lots of windows to flood the area with natural light.
The art is thoughtfully arranged, and the whole layout really lets you focus on what you’re viewing and nothing else. The gallery is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 11:00 to 18:00.
Handel & Hendrix in London is one of the more unique museums in the city. It’s dedicated to British baroque composer George Frideric Handel and American rock singer and guitarist Jimi Hendrix.
The link between these two musicians is their former addresses. Both men occupied homes on the street, and their living quarters have been turned into a house museum, separated by just a wall.
At 25 Brook Street, you’ll find Handel House. This is where Handel lived for the last 36 years of his life. It’s also where he composed some of his greatest works, including Messiah. It’s filled with period furnishing and memorabilia from the era.
The top floor, 23 Brook Street, is where Jimi Hendrix lived from 1968 to 1969. Travel back to 1960s London as you visit the room where he slept, partied, played music, and relaxed.
If you’re the gambling type, The Palm Beach Casino is one of London’s most luxurious entertainment destinations. They offer everything from high stakes tables to slots and live gaming. They’re open 24 hours a day, so you can stop in anytime you’re feeling lucky.
There’s also a restaurant on-site offering a high-end dining experience. The menu features South Asian, Indian, and other international dishes from an award-winning chef. Or, if you want something a bit more casual, the Bar & Grill overlooks the casino floor and offers small bites and a large selection of drinks.
Amidst the madness of central Mayfair, you’ll find St George’s Church. This grand 18th-century Anglican religious building was constructed from 1721 to 1725. It then went through refurbishing in 2010.
It features typical elements of the time period it was built, like stained glass windows, ornately carved wooden pews, and an impressively large organ.
Baroque composer George Frideric Handel regularly worshipped and performed his work here. Today, it’s the site of the annual London Handel Festival, as well as other classical music concerts.
Back in the day, the church’s position in central London made it a popular place for weddings. Many members of high society exchanged their nuptials here, including US President Theodore Roosevelt and his wife, Edith Carow, in 1886.
Green Park is a lovely outdoor oasis sandwiched between Piccadilly and Buckingham Palace.
Unlike other parks in the city, it has no lakes, buildings, or playgrounds and very minimal flower beds. It does have plenty of open green space (hence the name Green Park) and mature trees. And there are several memorials, fountains and statues.
It provides a lovely little escape from the concrete jungle that is London.
Grosvenor Square is a public garden square set amongst the high-end properties of Mayfair.
Although it’s not nearly as large as Hyde Park or Green Park, it’s the second-largest garden square in London (after Russell Square).
It’s another lovely spot in the area you can duck into for a break from the busy streets. Grab a take-away cafe from a nearby cafe to enjoy as you walk through.
On one end of the square, there’s a memorial garden paying homage to the 67 British victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks.
The area around Mayfair contains a wealth of attractions you don’t want to miss when visiting. From some of the city’s top attractions to a few historical gems, here are some sites to check out next.
Buckingham Palace is one of London’s top landmarks. The massive royal residence features an ornate facade with well-clad guards standing watch over the approximately 775 rooms found inside. It’s the Queen’s official home in London, and many other members of the royal family regularly visit.
The palace is also famous for its Changing of the Guard ceremony. This takes place daily in June and July, and from August to May, it’s held every other day. If you’re visiting the city for the first time, it’s definitely worth seeing.
If you want to book a Buckingham Palace tour, you’ll be able to step inside the royal residence and visit the royal State Rooms, which just refers to the palace’s public rooms.
The historic St James’s Palace stands in sharp contrast to the modern streets of London. It’s the kind of place where you can actually feel its history just by looking at it. It was built between 1531 and 1536 by King Henry VIII, and most of the original structure still stands.
Back in the day, it was the home of many Kings and Queens of England. However, the royal family no longer uses it as a residence. Instead, the monarch uses it to host charity receptions and in-coming State Visits.
Although the palace isn’t open to the public, the grand red brick exterior is still worth seeing in person, especially if you appreciate history.
If you’re a fan of the late Princess Diana of Wales, you’ll enjoy a tour of Spence House. This lavish 18-century aristocratic palace was built from 1756 to 1766 by one of her ancestors, John, first Earl Spencer.
It’s considered London’s finest surviving 18-century townhouse. Guided tours are offered on Sundays throughout the year, except for August. The tour covers everything from the history of the family to the house and the art on display.
You’ll be able to visit eight of the opulently decorated State Rooms. During certain months of the year, the garden is also included in the tour.
The National Gallery is a large art museum in London that contains a treasure trove of historical paintings. They date from the 13th-century to 1900. Some of the most notable pieces are from Leonardo Da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Peter Paul Rubens.
Most of the artwork contains displays with important information about the artists or pieces you’re visiting. General admission is free, but you can book a National Gallery guided tour if you want more insight into the gallery and the pieces on display.
The British Museum is like a window into the past. It’s one of the largest museums in London and contains relics from as far back as Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece. You can see things like the Rosetta Stone, Egyptian Mummies and an Easter Island Head.
There’s so much to learn about and areas to explore – you could spend the whole day at the museum and still not see it all. But even if you visit for an hour, you’ll leave with a greater understanding of human history and culture.
General admission is free, but guided tours of the museum are also offered if you want a more in-depth look at the key artefacts on display.
Half of the fun of visiting Mayfair in London is discovering its incredible food scene. Make sure to budget time in your day to try out at least one of these restaurants; you won’t be disappointed.
Burger and Lobster is an up-market burger and seafood joint. They have chains in big cities, like New York and Bangkok, but their location in Mayfair is the original.
Their menu is full of mouth-watering seafood options like whole lobsters, king prawns, and queen scallops. They also have sizable burgers, including a plant-based burger.
The atmosphere is known for being lively and fun, which might have something to do with their extensive list of cocktails, wine, beer, and cider.
34 Mayfair is an upscale grill that caters very well to meat and seafood eaters. You’ll find a menu full of hearty dishes, like lamb shoulder, steak fillets, tuna tartare, and salmon sashimi.
They also offer a brunch menu with classic meals, like pancakes and bacon, or more innovative dishes, like wagyu short rib tacos with ancho chilli, avocado and tomatillo.
Their drinks menu pairs well with all of their dishes. And there’s champagne and sparkling wines for brunch too.
One more thing to note is that at Christmastime, the interior of the restaurant gets a festive makeover. It’s covered in colourful baubles and is a truly magical sight to see.
Plants by Deliciously Ella is a vegan restaurant that creates flavourful dishes with a focus on natural, healthy ingredients. Here you’ll have options like pan-fried oyster mushroom scallops, broad bean and wild garlic risotto, and chocolate torte with roasted hazelnuts and raspberries. And you don’t have to be vegan to appreciate the meals served at this restaurant.
Everything is made in house and served fresh. You can eat inside the cosy cafe, or outside with a view of the busy streets of London.
Mercato Mayfair is a hidden gem in London’s food market scene. Housed in an old religious sanctuary, complete with beautiful stained-glass windows, you’ll find two floors full of food stands as well as a vaulted wine cellar.
There are cuisines from all over the world, like Italian, German, Thai, Malaysian, and French.
The market has a progressive ethos of using fresh, artisanal, and sustainably sourced ingredients when possible.
Housed in an 18th-century townhouse, Sketch is a one-of-a-kind restaurant that offers four different dining experiences.
The eatery is split into four sections: The Parlour, The Lecture Room & Library, The Glade, and The East Bar & Pods. From casual to high-end dining, you can choose your preferred eating style.
For a fun experience, go for afternoon tea at Sketch. They offer a twist on this classic British tradition.
Hakkasan Mayfair is a modern Chinese restaurant offering dim sum, Cantonese delicacies and creative cocktails. The space takes up two floors which are full of designer decoration, dim lighting, and quiet background music. It sets the mood for a lovely dining experience.
If you want to try a little bit of everything, go for their tasting menu. You’ll leave feeling just the right amount of satisfaction. This place can get quite busy, so it’s best to reserve a table before you arrive.
Popina is a cute little cafe in the heart of Mayfair. It’s the perfect place for breakfast or brunch in the city. You can order something simple, like eggs Benedict, cinnamon porridge, or granola with yoghurt. Or, go for something full of diverse flavours, like their Turkish eggs with lemon and dill yoghurt or green shakshuka and raclette cheese melt.
They also have a full lunch menu with sweet or savoury toast, sandwiches, salads, and soup. Make sure to order one of their coffees, tea, or freshly squeezed juices with your meal. If you want an Instagram-worthy drink, try their golden or rudy plant-based latte.
Now that you have a better idea of what to do in Mayfair, you’ll be all set for a wonderful time exploring. This area of London has it all: popular attractions, historical gems, wonderful restaurants, and picturesque public spaces.
You’ll easily be able to fill a few days discovering all the attractions in the neighbourhood. Or, if you’re short on time, you could also plan a day trip to visit the sites that interest you most. Either way, you’re bound to have a fabulous time.