Executive Travel: Luxury and elegance in the heart of London’s Mayfair district
The black Rolls-Royce cabriolet with a Saudi number plate draped across the entrance to The May Fair is an appropriate symbol of this luxury hotel, part of the Radisson Collection since June, which hosts many Arabian Gulf guests at this time of year.
Indeed, since Ramadan ended, guests from the Gulf have occupied about 35 per cent of rooms. Arguably the best shopping district in the world, London’s Mayfair is at your door.
Yet the balance of the guests is overwhelmingly business-focused. The London hedge funds’ favourite location, Berkeley Square, lies just around the corner.
First opened in 1927 by King George V, this society hotel is today extremely cosmopolitan. It has been owned by Edwardian Hotels — founded by British-Indian Jasminder Singh in 1975 — since 2003.
Many of its 37 individually designed suites have items that hint at the owner’s Indian heritage, and splashes of bright colour. There are also rooftop terraces with stunning views over Mayfair, one of London’s richest boroughs with some of the highest-priced real estate on the planet. The Dh14,000-a-night top suite features two bedrooms and bathrooms, light-filled spaces, a huge Samsung TV and a lounge and terrace perfect for private meetings.
The 367 bedrooms offer typical five-star London luxury with real white marble bathrooms, large showers, king-size beds, laptop-sized safe and superfast internet — 133.9 Mbps on my test. Nespresso machines are available on request. Room service is comprehensive, with Arabic specialities such as a chicken shawarma and chips for Dh62. A club sandwich is Dh71, Coke Dh20 and Acqua Panna still water Dh23.
Only the suites have full desks, although I found the small glass dining table and two comfy chairs adequate enough. An adapter is supplied for its two standard British three-pin plugs.
My Dh4,430-a-night executive room was quietly located above a back alley. This is not a noisy hotel as the narrow streets do not allow for fast traffic. For meetings, there is a choice of 11 boardroom-style rooms. These range from a small, windowless, four-seater room that would be great for a quick signing ceremony to a fabulous corner room for up to 20 whose windows over the streets of Mayfair make it particularly light and airy.
A spacious business centre is a free facility for guests. It offers two Apple Macs and three Microsoft computers, a substantial Ricoh printer and document shredder. IT support is available on call.
The hotel was bought in the 1950s by Hollywood impresarios the Danziger Brothers, who added a 201-seat theatre for film screenings, still the only such facility in a London hotel. It’s popular for corporate events, as well as the 170-seat, Art Deco-style Danziger room suitable for a small conference.
Another standout for events is the Crystal room with the largest Baccarat chandelier yet commissioned, the spacious private dining room and the atrium reception area.
The May Fair Bar is justifiably famous for its brunch, but this large space is also available for private hire.
I also particularly liked the May Fair Kitchen, a modern, all-day dining restaurant with global tapas from Spain, Italy, Mexico, Peru and Japan.
As often in London hotels of this era, there is no swimming pool. However, a recently added spa in the basement has five treatment rooms and a sauna and steam room, and the newly equipped Techno-Gym next door has five steppers, two bikes, rowing and skiing machines, and free-weights. Only a multigym machine was missing.
The writer was a guest of the hotel but paid his own airfare and all other expenses
Updated: September 9, 2019 03:55 AM