Explore our curated local guide to Mayfair’s attractions and sights. Discover the best things to do and see and revel in the magic of Mayfair.
Mayfair is named so after the annual 15-day long festival, the May Fair, that took place in the area’s vicinity from 1686 until 1764. One of London’s most well-known and sought-after areas, it encompasses Regent Street, Oxford Street, Piccadilly, and Park Lane, which comprise much of London’s West End. Mayfair has been a leisure destination for 300 years and counting, home as it is to elevated restaurants, heritage and luxury shopping, and cultural institutions, like The Royal Academy of Arts. It’s an area with an aristocratic reputation, reflected in the splendour of the architecture and the calibre of businesses that abound.
There are numerous things to do in Mayfair and a day will not be enough to really explore what the area has to offer, though it is possible to get a taste of the ambience by spending only a few hours among its charming streets. Mayfair is the ideal destination whether you’re looking to fill hours of the morning or the evening, and regardless of whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure – it accommodates both with ease.
Discover Mayfair’s most notable spots for shopping, dining, and sightseeing below with our helpful guide.
An Indulgent Breakfast in Mayfair
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and there’s no better way to satisfy morning hunger than with a wonderful meal at The Ritz Restaurant. The famous Mayfair restaurant is considered by many to have one of the most elegant dining areas in the world. Following a blissful night’s sleep in one of our opulent rooms or suites, leisurely head down to experience the best breakfast in Mayfair and dine in the spectacular setting of the restaurant’s dining room, adorned with marble columns, ornate chandeliers, and decadent floor-to-ceiling windows.
Wake up and commence your day with a freshly squeezed juice to accompany a continental or an English breakfast. Healthy options are of course available, including avocado on sourdough toast, muesli, and a fruit plate. The restaurant likewise offers a selection of breakfast specialties and prestige options – truffles and caviar – which can be enjoyed as an accompaniment to many of the menu’s dishes.
All the dishes are created using the finest seasonal British ingredients, sourced with sustainability and flavour in mind.
Should you wish to start your day in your room, there is of course the option of enjoying all the same dishes from the menu as part of room service.
Luxury Shopping in London
Mayfair is possibly the best of all London’s areas when it comes to shopping. Mayfair boutiques span clothing, jewellery, art, and so much more – all can be found within easy reach of The Ritz.
Start with Bond Street if you’re after luxury fashion and accessories. It’s home to a host of British and international luxury brands including Chanel, Prada, Burberry, Dior, and Alexander McQueen. Many of the brand’s flagship stores are all located here. Lovers of fine jewellery can peruse the offerings of Boodles, Graff, Tiffany & Co, plus many other iconic names.
Burlington Arcade is a must visit for its beauty and the shopping options it has to offer. Established in 1819 and currently boasts 46 boutiques. Many of the boutiques, like Manolo Blahnik’s men shoe boutique – the world’s one and only – are exclusive to the Arcade and cannot be found elsewhere. Fragrance, cashmere, leather goods, jewellery, watches, vintage, and antiques all intermingle under the Arcade’s ornate roof – it’s a uniquely British shopping experience that’s guaranteed to delight.
Selfridges is one of the highlights of all of the Mayfair shops. A department store like no other, it combines high-fashion and luxury offerings with unique in-store experiences and great places to eat.
For a more boutique-like experience, head to Liberty. A historic department store known for the patterned fabrics it produces, the store now houses fashion, beauty, accessories, and home departments.
Fortnum & Mason is a must-visit for foodies everywhere. A gourmand’s emporium, this Mayfair shop was founded in 1707 and is home to luxury hampers, delectable food and a fantastic place to shop for gifts, as well as unique and quintessentially British products that cannot be found elsewhere.
A stone’s throw away from Fortnum & Mason is the chic Maison Assouline. It occupies a stunning building which used to be an old bank. Town & Country magazine called it one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores in 2017. Inside you’ll find an exclusive collection of Assouline Interiors furniture, antique collectables, and truly one-of-a-kind gift items. In addition, you’ll find all of the latest Assouline book releases and rare first edition classic titles too, sure to delight book lovers.
Fragrance aficionados have a lot of shopping options in Mayfair. There’s the Penhaligon’s boutique on Regent Street, home of the British perfume house. Penhaligon’s have been making perfume since the late 1860s. For rare and limited-edition fragrances, there’s Jovoy on Conduit Street, a stockist of niche brands and home scents. The flagship Creed boutique can also be found in Mayfair – the brand is renowned for long-lasting and quality fragrances.
For the finest tableware, china, silverware, and glassware, make a visit to Thomas Goode & Co. The luxury purveyors stock a range of brands alongside own-brand items across categories like porcelain, cutlery, crystalware, and other home goods. The showroom is a beautiful space to visit and explore Thomas Goode & Co’s Objects d’Art in a unique setting.
Finally, a trip to Savile Row should be part of any suit lovers’ shopping experience in Mayfair. It’s known for its heritage of men’s tailoring and so it’s the perfect place to shop for suiting, dress shirts, ties, and other formal clothing. For something truly bespoke, the famed Savile Row tailors will make you a made-to-measure suit that’s customisable to you and your preferences.
Mayfair Attractions and Must-See Sights
The area is full of culture and there are numerous Mayfair museums and galleries that are worth a visit, whether your tastes are classic or contemporary. In fact, there are so many Mayfair attractions that more than one day is recommended to really explore and get to know the area.
The Royal Academy of Arts is not to be missed. Home to Britain’s longest established art school, the RA’s collection of art and architecture is free to view. Since 1768, the RA has held an annual Summer Exhibition – the largest open-submission art exhibition in the world. As well as the free collection, the RA hosts select exhibitions by the world’s most famous and interesting artists. It’s worth giving yourself a few hours to explore the beauty of the building, soaking up its history and discovering the mixture of work by new, established, and classic artists.
For contemporary and fine art, Halcyon Gallery – located on Bond Street – is worth a visit. The gallery, sitting between luxury stores, specialises in modern and contemporary art, showcasing pieces from new and known international names. On your visit, you’re likely to see work by Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, and Pablo Picasso.
Head to the Gagosian Gallery’s Grosvenor Street location for more contemporary and modern art, where you’ll see a selection of works and exhibitions from some of the most important artists working today alongside art’s most well-known names.
For a taste of something different, the Mayfair Gallery on South Audley Street, will be of interest to anyone with a taste for antiques. Operating at the heart of the international antiques trade, the gallery has a wide display of 19th century art and furnishings. It prides itself on its aesthetic sensitivity and therefore can assure anyone walking through the doors that what they’re seeing is of the finest quality.
Green Spaces in Mayfair
There are plenty of green spaces and parks all around Mayfair. The most famous is Hyde Park, one of eight Royal Parks. It covers an area of 350 acres and is divided into smaller areas that are all easily reached on foot. There’s a rose garden and plenty of water features to see; the large Serpentine Lake has a dedicated swimming area too. Housed across two buildings is the Serpentine Gallery, which you’ll find on the park’s grounds. It’s a contemporary gallery with a programme of exhibitions, architecture, events, and talks.
Green Park is a great escape from the bustle of Piccadilly, and it’s characterised by mature trees and grassland. It’s lovely for a restful walk or as a way of avoiding some of the busier streets when you want to get between Mayfair’s spots of interest.
Just a stone’s throw away from Mayfair is St James’s Park – it’s surrounded by landmarks such as Whitehall, Clarence House, and Buckingham Palace itself. The park has impressive seasonal flower displays that are particularly colourful during the spring and summer seasons. You may spot some unusual residents on your visit, pelicans; they have lived in the park for nearly 400 years.
A Tipple at the Best Bar in Mayfair
After a day of shopping, sightseeing, and Mayfair museum visits, the ideal way to wind down is with a drink. Where? One of the best cocktail bars in Mayfair – The Rivoli Bar at The Ritz London.
The bar’s interiors were designed to give anyone stepping foot among its sumptuous surroundings the impression of entering a jewellery box. The space is at once grand and intimate, evoking the glamour of a bygone era.
The knowledgeable staff will mix up a cocktail of your choice, whether you’re after something classic or one of The Rivoli Bar’s own refined creations. Get to know The Ritz’s history through cocktails by opting for one of The Rivoli Bar’s Showpiece drinks, designed to toast the legacy of the hotel. An impressive selection of wines and Champagnes is also available. The menu likewise features interesting non-alcoholic cocktails alongside a range of loose-leaf tea, infusions, and coffee.
The bar serves a curated menu of dining options, from classics like the club sandwich and Caesar salad to oysters and lobster rolls. A selection of caviar is also available.
As you can tell, Mayfair is a lively and historical area full of fantastic things to do. To get a real feel for the atmosphere and culture of the area, a few days’ stay is recommended. It will allow you to get lost along the picturesque streets, discover hidden gems, and enjoy it all at a leisurely pace. It will also give you the most opportunity to visit all the galleries and museums without compromising on your shopping time. Having said that, a day or even an afternoon in Mayfair is enough for a taste of why this area remains an attraction to people all over the world. However you choose to spend your day, be sure to leave some time for a tipple at the famed The Rivoli Bar.