Why book The May Fair, A Radisson Collection Hotel
The May Fair, A Radisson Collection Hotel, immediately captures the attention of passers-by on the four streets it lords over. It’s sprawling, elegant and poised, with its Union Jack flag fluttering in the wind, and seems to command an entire block. The property has an illustrious past – first opened in 1927 by King George V and built on the former site of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire’s London home, but today, it is a quirky, design-led, surprisingly affordable hotel in arguably one of the best location in the city. A charming dichotomy between the grand, old-world exterior and the quirky interiors and public spaces – clad in bright colours and playful touches like Buddhas and red chaise divan chairs – shows how the hotel doesn’t take itself too seriously. In 2019, following a refurbishment, the hotel joined Radisson Collection’s portfolio of premium hotel experiences, ensuring global brand stands were met and, perhaps, some more corporate touches implemented. Today, guests can enjoy the former home of the aristocrat in modern and generously spacious rooms and suites, a spa, conference room, restaurant and bar – of which the latter are perennially packed. The May Fair Hotel is an approachable five-star offering in the heart of Londin’s most salubrious neighbourhoods, right on the doorstep of some of its biggest and best sights.
Elevated and upscale, through young, relaxed and down-to-earth, The May Fair A Radisson Collection Hotel offers a quirky and more laid-back alternative to the traditionally ‘posh’ hotels it calls neighbours. There are no doormen – perhaps a little less intimidating, though challenging when arriving with multiple bags – and the lobby is modern and seemingly always teeming with life. Customers vary greatly, from couples on a weekend escape to business people and solo travellers – a reflection of the hotel’s multicultural appeal and approachability. Staff are always helpful and smiling, especially at check-in and at breakfast. Perhaps a nod to the hotel’s relatively new guise as a Radisson hotel, each floor has an ice machine- a decidedly American touch.
As mentioned in the title of this very review, this could be one of the best locations of all London hotels. The May Fair, A Radisson Collection Hotel, backs onto four streets, but its official address is Stratton Street, Mayfair, a more peaceful location just off the main road, but conveniently located – within walking distance of London’s key neighbourhoods, shopping and dining spots. Bustling Picadilly – with Fortum and Masons, The Ritz, Burlington Arcade, the Royal Academy of Art and Green Park Station – is a two-minute walk away; Berkeley Square – home of Annabel’s, Sexy Fish, Amazonico and Il Borro Tuscan Bistro, it 2 minutes away; and Mount Street – home of The Connaught, Jamavar restaurant and sleek British pub The Audley Public House (backed Swiss art powerhouse couple Iwan and Manuela Wirth) – is around a five-minute walk. A little further afield, and still very much walkable, are Knightsbridge, Sloane Street and Buckingham Palace and, in the other direction, Picadilly Circus and the shops of Bond Street and Oxford Street.
Rooms and suites
The May Fair Hotel is big, huge in fact, and you’ll often find yourself getting lost in its maze of corridors. There are 404 rooms, including 40 suites – with dozens of categories and designs on offer – testament to the building’s storied past and quirky design themes. Entry-level Collection Superior rooms and generously proportioned at 24 sq m, and all four room categories have the same beige colour scheme with pops of red – crowd-pleasing and comfortable but perhaps in a little need of a refresh. In an incredibly generous move, some Collection Premium Rooms – one category from entry-level – come with a private sun terrace with outdoor seating – a luxury not even found in some of the capital’s top hotel suites.
For a more tastefully designed offering, opt for a suite, with our Studio Suite being a comfortable hideaway with a separate dressing room, open-plan lounge area, raised windows (limiting light but creating a cosy vibe) and a playful Union Jack Smeg fridge and maxi bar. Suites in the same category vary dramatically, so don’t be afraid to ask to see other room options if you are not completely satisfied – as the charming and smiley reception team is more than happy to oblige. Novelty suites include the Schiaparelli suite – a homage to the avant-garde fashion design whose signature fuschia is liberally splashed around alongside antique furniture and sculptures. Some touches, however, make this hotel feel more motel than a five-star establishment, like the clunky, fixed, press-to-operate hairdryers and single-use plastic coverings placed on fresh mugs and glasses. Otherwise, all rooms come with irons, Nespresso machines, tea-making facilities, toiletries, robes and complimentary bottled water – restocked every day.
Food and drink
The May Fair Kitchen is the heart of the hotel – a dining destination in its own right that fills up at breakfast and lunchtimes. It’s the setting for a decent breakfast buffet that satisfies the crowd, complete with all the usuals like fruit juices, cold cuts, bread, pastries, yoghurt, fresh fruits, cereal, cheeses and ore-cooked hot offerings – and guests are also welcome to order freshly dishes like eggs, waffles and omelettes). Much to this reviewer’s delight, there’s also a good range of non-dairy milks and a jug of fresh coconut water. The concept becomes decidedly more elevated at lunch and dinner – offering the increasingly en-vogue amalgamation of Japanese izakaya and Italian cuisine (think sushi and pizza). The May Fair Bar across the hall is also a popular hangout but gets pretty packed and raucous as the night goes on – so much so, a dedicated door security and roped-off entrance is erected on Thursdays and weekends. 24-hour room service is also available for those who wish to hide away.
Spa and facilities
For such a huge property, it’s only right there be oodles of public space to host meetings, private events and parties and various hedonistic pursuits. Tucked away from the bustle is the Eastern-inspired May Fair Spa, offering treatments using ESPA products and a 24-hour fitness centre. Other welcome facilities include valet parking, dry cleaning and laundry, luggage storage and accessible rooms.
In a rather quirky and fascinating nod to its grand past, the property is also home to one of the latest private cinemas in the capital – the May Fair Theatre. Hidden in the bowels of the hotel, the cinema offers a glimpse into the hotel’s past as a hub for theatrics in the Fixties and Sixties (then owned by Hollywood’s Danziger brothers). While there’s no longer a pool bar with real crocodiles (yes), the room now houses a private screening space with red Italian theatre seats and adjoining private entertainment spaces.
Stratton Street, Mayfair, London, UK; doubles from £249 (around AED1,100); themayfairhotel.co.uk