Mayfair, United Kingdom

Mayfair’s rarefied environs make a laid-back base for exploring London’s West End. Hyde Park stretches out to its left, Soho’s lively labyrinthine streets to its right, and the area’s lower corners brush up against Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square. Named after the debauched May Fair held annually in the 17th century (then moved east, due to its lewdness), Mayfair’s now rather tony: stellar labels and luxury-yacht brokers line Old and New Bond Street, and Savile Row outfits London’s gents to the millimetre. Fine-art galleries attract high rollers to private views, and the Royal Academy of Arts has an exciting roster of exhibitions. Le Gavroche, Galvin at Windows, and eateries helmed by Ducasse and Darroze ensure the wealthy denizens who can afford to live here dine very well indeed. A jolly good show for a neighbourhood that grew from a swamp…

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When to go

Score a future masterpiece at the Royal Academy of Arts' renowned summer exhibition from June to August. Otherwise Mayfair has year-round appeal.

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Getting there

  • Planes

    The nearest airport is London City, nine miles away. From here, you can fly to Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle.
  • Trains

    To the south, ride the Victoria, Piccadilly and Jubilee lines from Green Park Tube station; Central Line stops, Marble Arch, Bond Street and Oxford Circus run along its north border, giving you access to the rest of the city.
  • Automobiles

    This central spot is easy peasy to explore on foot or by Tube. If you must bring a car, be aware that Mayfair is in the Congestion Charge zone.