REVIEW: THE MAYFAIR TOWNHOUSE, LONDON, UK
Mayfair in all its splendour, requires little by way of introduction. Standing proud next to London’s parks, galleries and arcades, Iconic Luxury Hotels’ latest offering, The Mayfair Townhouse is a curious affair. Intrigued to discover why, Emma Kennedy paid the hotel a visit.
Occupying a row of 15 Georgian Town Houses its black façade has a dominant presence, as it takes centre stage of Half Moon Street. Not only steeped in affluence, status, and history, but the Oscar Wilde aficionados among you will also recognise Half Moon Street as the backdrop to Wilde’s play, The Importance of Being Earnest. Whilst it is common knowledge Mayfair’s inhabitants have traditionally been a rarefied mix of the rich and famous, less well known is that by the mid-19th century it was also the colourful playground for the Victorian Bohemian otherwise known as the English dandy.
Behind every successful design project, there is a story. A germ of an idea that sparks and fizzes its way from the drawing board to the site. However, seldom is the finished design as coherent and successful as the Mayfair Townhouse. Resisting the more obvious route of focusing on its Georgian heritage, the team at Goddard Littlefair have taken the altogether more flamboyant era of the ‘dandy’ as their inspiration. Delving deep into the rich history of the townhouse and its imagined inhabitants, their design embraces the present and future with a respectful nod to the past. With the working title: Oscar Wilde meets Alice in Wonderland; their approach is both whimsical and witty as it delivers tales of the unexpected around each corner.
Heading north along Half Moon Street, the black curved canopy bearing the hotel’s name lets you know you have arrived. It is a sleek traditional entrance befitting of the area but gives little hint of what lies ahead. The reception lobby in equal measures feels opulent and welcoming. A rich mix of lighting is reflected in the panelled mirrors, casting a warm glow upon the area. Clean lines and cool marbles are softened with gentle curves and smooth textures and the undeniable flavour of Art Deco delivers a promise of things to come. Looking ahead the eye is drawn to the aptly named Dandy Bar – the beating heart of the hotel.
It is here The Mayfair Townhouse really begins to reveal itself. Taking its design cue from the flamboyant flappers of the roaring twenties, the directional pull of the herringbone floor draws the eye to a glass ‘feathered’ gantry above the bar. Rattan wall lights hang like beaded dresses, magically giving the illusion of chandeliered glass. Club chairs in softly printed velvets sit harmoniously with rich leather sofas and single opaque domed lamps bring an intimacy to the bar tables. It is a fun, glamorous space, whose walls almost whisper the scandalous secrets from days gone by and as the bar begins to fill and the cocktails start to flow its decadent past feels ever more present.
Underneath a stunning contemporary chandelier – inspired by the gentleman’s pocket watch – is a staircase whose traditional handrail and spindles have been replaced with Mondrian-esque panels of ribbed glass. Its generous sweep takes you down to the lower ground floor, and into the Club Room dining area, where recessed bookcases in Burnt Orange pop out from Eau de Nil walls. Boxed butterflies, delicate bird sculptures and leatherbound books adorn the shelves as velvet cushions rub shoulders with rough tweeds and paisleys on grey leather banquets. It is sumptuous yet, like the rest of the hotel, sparing and beautifully curated.
With the modern ‘nomad traveller’ in mind The Mayfair Townhouse doesn’t have a formal restaurant preferring to encourage guests to sample the culinary delights found locally or choose from the bar menu upstairs. Breakfast, thankfully, is clearly still in demand by the ‘modern nomad’ and the menu on offer is as varied and delicious as its surroundings.
While upstairs The Dandy Bar remains the opulent hub of the hotel, it is on the lower ground floor that the design story begins. In collaboration with renowned art curator Minda Dowling, an art collection inspired by the creation of the fictitious Reynard family was commissioned to provide another unexpected layer to the hotel’s narrative. Adorning the panelled walls are surreal portraits set in classical backgrounds, depicting each member of the family. At a glance the pictures are an interesting mix of contemporary digital art, but on closer inspection nothing is quite as it seems. Nesting birds peer out from the folds of a skirt, a drone appears above a classic portrait of a Georgian lady, a butterfly takes the place of a monocle of a scholarly gent… and as with the rest of the hotel, the unspoken message is to be curious and expect the unexpected.
Adjacent to The Club Room are ‘The Den’ and ‘Oscar’s’, open-fronted meeting rooms for smaller, more intimate gatherings. Hung with a mischievous art collection featuring The Mayfair Townhouse’s signature fox in a variety of guises, the walls of The Den draw you in with an invitation to misbehave. By comparison, ‘Oscars’ has more of a serious feel with art deco panelling and beautiful cabinetry reminiscent of a 1920s boardroom. But as different as each space is, the recognisable Townhouse handwriting remains constant and the joys of the unexpected continue to surprise and delight at each turn.
The curated boutique feel of the hotel belies the fact it has 172 rooms. Offering a luxurious array of individually designed guest rooms and suites – from the Cabin Room, impeccably designed for the lone traveller to The Garden Suites, which come with their own patio, through to three and four bedroomed suites. All are beautiful spaces where marble bathrooms have underfloor heating, bespoke rugs lay on solid wood floors and sublime bedding envelope sumptuous mattresses.
Having previously supplied Iconic Luxury Hotels Group with mattresses for their Chewton Glen property, Harrison Spinks Hospitality was delighted to be selected to provide mattresses to The Mayfair Townhouse. Combining luxurious comfort while also being fully sustainable, Tempo 1750 met the criteria set out by Iconic Luxury Hotels for the new property. Handcrafted in Yorkshire, 100% recyclable and zero to landfill, with delicate blends of luxurious and sustainably sourced fillings and supportive spring systems. The Mayfair Townhouse could be sure their guests would be sleeping soundly.
In addition, an in-room kit to make the hotel’s signature Dandy cocktail, a copy of The Importance of Being Earnest, spare socks and a complimentary mini bar offering produce from local artisans are just a few of the unexpected delights that await guests.
As all hoteliers know, any amount of design brilliance and luxury can dissolve to nothing if it is not matched by the service. As the industry continues to struggle with all the obstacles the pandemic has thrown its way, The Mayfair Townhouse team, without exception, are fun and engaging and most importantly passionate about the hotel. Graciously tending to your every whim and second guessing your next request, they share risqué anecdotes relating to Mayfair’s illustrious past that Oscar Wilde would be proud of.
Describing itself as Curious, engaging, and witty, Iconic Luxury Hotels’ latest offering delivers in spades. Luxurious, opulent, and curated would complete the picture and if The Mayfair Townhouse was a film, it would undoubtably win an Oscar.
OPERATIONS: Iconic Luxury Hotels
DESIGN: Goddard Littlefair
SUPPLIERS: Lighting: Northern Lights Furniture: L&R, BSBG, OZO Living Soft furnishings: Robena Contract Furnishings Limited Mattresses: Harrison Spinks Hospitality Bathroom fittings: Hansgrohe, Axor Staff uniforms: Field Grey Bathroom amenities: Noble Isle