What to Do in London's Mayfair and Marylebone Neighborhoods
Mayfair is one of London's favorite neighborhoods for its location (adjacent to Hyde Park) and the gentility of its Georgian townhouses, smart shops and iconic restaurants (like The Wolseley). But a weekend or day exploring here is best spent by also exploring neighboring Marylebone, as well. Despite being right in the heart of London, Marylebone (pronounced mary-le-bone) maintains a fairly low profile, but has been gaining more attention recently for its many hidden gems. The richness of the city is encapsulated by these two districts, with small scale pubs and eateries that feel truly British complementing more high-end, glamorous spots that create a truly dynamic London experience. Here, a jumping off point for experiencing the best of this slice of the U.K. capital.
This café is good for every meal, but there's something extra special about whiling away a few hours over some of the best sandwiches in London and a pot of The Wolseley's signature blend. Try to get a seat inside the horseshoe, the best place for people watching. And watch you will, Bono, Madonna, Chris Martin … actually think of a celebrity and they will have eaten here.
Michelin-starred Indian is not easy to come by, and that makes Gymkhana in Mayfair that much more a treat. Styled to recall the Colonial Indian gymkhana clubs of yore, the atmosphere is social and slick, with lots of dark woods, stone walls, and paneled ceilings. It feels as if it could have appeared in the society pages of bygone years. Beneath that glossy exterior is top tier dishes rich with spices and full of fragrance, from the venison kheema naan to the masala peanut and lotus root chaat.
Creators of the Beaumont, Chris Corbin and Jeremy King are best known for their well-appointed white tablecloth restaurants, such as the Wolseley, The Delaunay and Café Colbert. At the Beaumont, the hallmark is luxury of a bygone era, with its Art Deco inspiration and decadent bar and restaurant. Family-friendly, there's a standalone ice cream menu. The hamam and spa lifts takes after the traditional Turkish bath at the distinguished Royal Automobile Club in central London.
A traditional pub, the Prince Regent features a daily-changing menu that emphasizes fresh ingredients from artisan producers and selected British farms. Located in Marylebone Village, the pub has a brightly colored interior with stunning chandeliers, gold-framed mirrors, and oversized artwork, and there's an on-street terrace that's perfect for people-watching. The menu consists of upscale pub fare like handmade West Country beef burgers, beer-battered haddock and chips, and slow-cooked lamb shank shepherd's pie. On Sundays, the pub offers home-cooked Sunday roast.
Deceivingly large, this Marylebone bookshop has original Edwardian oak-paneled galleries filled with a huge selection of books. Skylights provide plenty of natural light for viewing books, and there is even more to see on the basement and mezzanine levels. Daunt Books is known for its extensive travel collection, which is segmented out by country and features everything from traditional travel guides to maps to food guides. The store also has a wide range of non-fiction, history, biographies, short stories, and poetry selections.
Travel back in time to the early 20th century at Fischers restaurant up at the Regent's Park-end of Marylebone High Street. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this eatery is both a café and konditorei, the German word for cake shop. The entire menu is great, but the chopped liver alone is worth the trip.
On the St. Marylebone Parish Church Grounds, this Saturday market sells everything from locally designed clothing to vintage accessories to a selection of food specialties. Created by the organizers of the popular London Fashion Designer Sales, the Cabbages & Frocks Market has a selection of fine and organic Continental and British gourmet items, including olive oils, breads, olives, cheeses, cupcakes, Japanese delicacies, and balsamic syrup and vinegars. The clothing selection includes retro and vintage items, and there are also sections dedicated to housewares, children's clothing, hand-blown glass, and jewelry.
After making it through the exhibition halls, the ideal way to end the day is at the RA's Shenkman Bar. The talented barmen try to create and theme cocktails around the art on show. When the weather holds, there's a small leafy garden terrace off the bar. It's worth a visit even if you don't stop to see an exhibition.
Well-known British designer Cath Kidston started out selling secondhand painted furniture and vintage fabrics before eventually designing her own fabrics. These days, her vintage-inspired floral prints can be found on everything from bags to kitchenware. Girly, vintage-inspired patterns include ginghams, polka dots, and roses, and they appear on accessories like wallets, handbags, travel accessories, umbrellas, and footwear. The Marylebone shop also carries Kidston's quirky patterns on women's clothing, piggy banks, fabric, and wallpaper.