A trip to London isn’t complete for me without a visit … or two or three … to Mayfair. I just love exploring this neighborhood’s elegant streets so full of London history, going for tea and shopping at Fortnum & Mason, window shopping in the beautiful Burlington Arcade, walking through Hyde Park to the Serpentine or across Green Park to Buckingham Palace or stopping in the Royal Academy of Arts to see a special exhibition or the marvelous permanent collections. It’s a fabulous little area in London that is literally surrounded by all my favorite things to do just walking distance or a short bus ride away.
Mayfair is one of London’s most fashionable areas, and its location tucked away between Hyde Park and Green Park on two sides and the fabulous shopping areas of Oxford Street, Regent Street and Piccadilly on the other sides means you’re really surrounded by the best of London – shopping, iconic sights and beautiful parks.
On my most recent trip to London I had the chance to not only visit Mayfair but also to call it home. Once you’ve rented an apartment while traveling it’s hard to imagine going back to staying in hotels. For a week I got to call call Mayfair “home” and to discover one of London’s most exclusive neighborboods like a local. Sweet! While shopping in Mayfair is always on the top of my list in London, I discovered an area new to me during my stay at the Mayfair apartment – Shepherd Market. And what a find!
Shepherd Market promotes itself as one of London’s best kept secrets, and I’d have to agree! This area takes its name from a man named Edward Shepherd who developed the square and shopping area from 1735-46. It has always been an ultra fashionable area, especially in the 20s, with an artistic touch. James Boswell lived in Shepherd Market, all the while keeping his famous journals. Just around the corner on Half Moon Street was the stylish flat of Wooster and his faithful valet Jeeves in the stories of P.G. Wodehouse. I couldn’t help but smile every time I walked by Half Moon Street thinking of all the messes that Jeeves managed to get Wooster out of!
But Shepherd Market is more than just historic charm. The area is full of restaurants, pubs, cute little cafes and beautiful stops. It’s a very lively spot for Londoners at night, too! I’ve even read about restaurants and clubs in the area that have hosted Pippa Middleton and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on many ocassions … if you feel like a bit of royal spotting!
I loved returning in the evenings to see the crowds at the local pubs spilling out onto the street with Londoners enjoying a pint after work or meeting up with friends before dinner in Shepherd Market. There was a vibrant atmosphere and very local feel that I enjoyed experiencing, especially compared to some more touristy parts of London.
The Mayfair apartment was perfectly located at the end of a quiet street, but just around the corner from the lively heart of Shepherd Market. There’s not a lot of traffic in Shepherd Market to begin with and many of the streets are pedestrian only. Love that! The apartment I stayed in is set in a charming red brick building on a street that wasn’t even a through street so it was a nice and quiet setting. Once I stepped inside the apartment the bustle of Piccadilly and the energy of Shepherd Market seemed worlds away even though they were literally just around the corner!
This apartment had a modern and fun decor with a striking wallpaper in the living room and dining area. I really enjoyed the contemporary vibe that seemed just right for the lively feel of Shepherd Market and the location in the stylish Mayfair neighborhood.
The design details were lovely, including a whimsical piece of artwork that contrasted nicely with the Victorian fireplace in the dining area. It was a very comfortable apartment in every detail – especially the under floor heating. Oh how lovely that was! It sure made a delightful change from the freezing cold tile floors at home in Italy. When the super nice greeter showed me how the under floor heating worked when I arrived, I joked that I might never leave again. (I liked this apartment so much that I wasn’t really joking!)
I always look for a beautiful kitchen when picking out an apartment to rent for vacation, because I love enjoying the comforts of home while traveling. I’m also a bit of an intensive sightseer … meaning I walk and walk and walk and walk all day long since it’s my favorite way to discover cities like London. At the end of the day I often feel like coming home to a comfortable apartment, preparing something to eat at home and just relaxing!
The kitchen at the Mayfair was perfect – completely modern with all new appliances, very clean and with beautiful dishes, too. Some evenings I stopped off on the way home at the great Marks & Spencer Simply Food store nearby or one of the other little food shops in the neighborhood to pick up something fresh and easy to prepare. Other nights I couldn’t resist heading out to try some of the restaurants and pubs in Shepherd Market. It was great that they were just a few steps away! However, after a busy day there’s nothing quite like relaxing, staying in and … Downton Abbey!
The TV in the living room was massive! It angled out just right so I could relax on the sofa and enjoy an episode of Downton Abbey in the evenings with a DVD I picked up at the airport. There was also a TV in the bedroom just opposite the bed. Oh, the bedroom …
The bedroom was beautifully designed and decorated with pale shades of beige and off white. I really enjoyed the inset lighting above the bed and the small reading lamps on each side of the bed. The windows are double paned and were frosted part of the way up for privacy, which was a great feature. There was a ton of storage so I could unpack when I arrived and store away my suitcase. I really like doing that when I travel so I don’t have to think about leaving until it’s time to pack again!
Before staying in Mayfair I hadn’t realized just how well connected it is for public transport in London. The Green Park tube station was just a few minute’s walk away, and that station is conveniently on the Piccadilly, Victoria and Jubilee lines. It was just one stop to Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Westminster, Victoria and just a few stops to go direct to Harrods in Knightsbridge, Museum Row in South Kensington, Leicester Square and Covent Garden, the British Museum and so much more.
While the Tube is fabulous, my favorite way to get around London is on the bus. It’s so easy to use (and I used to be scared to use buses while traveling!) and you get to actually see London on the way.
There were lots of great bus lines that passed by the Green Park Tube station and other stops nearby. One day I took the #9 bus straight to Kensington High Street for shopping and to visit Kensington Palace while another day I hopped on a bus and enjoyed the ride through Knightsbridge and South Kensington to King’s Road in Chelsea for another fun shopping expedition. The rest of the time I usually just walked everywhere I wanted to go since Mayfair is so centrally located.
London is full of surprises and mine on this trip was the discovery of Shepherd Market and the Mayfair apartment. It’s such a quaint and intimate neighborhood right in the heart of Mayfair. It’s an ideal central location yet with tons of London charm … I’ve become smitten with Mayfair!