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Fine and Dandy

At historic, art-centric boutique hotel The Mayfair Townhouse, a whimsical adventure awaits.

The entrance of The Mayfair Townhouse on Half Moon Street, with Mr Darcy the Pug

If you have seen Oscar Wilde’s most famous play, The Importance of Being Earnest, you may feel a sense of déjà vu when you visit The Mayfair Townhouse. Comprised of 15 Georgian townhouses juxtaposed together on 27-41 Half Moon Street, this street provided the setting for the first act of the play, first performed in 1895.

'Alfie' the Peacock in the lobby

The Mayfair Townhouses’ original 15 houses date back to the 1700's when the Renard Family – wealthy Huguenot refugees from France, originally clothing merchants – built rows of townhouses for the new society bon vivants. 

In its Victorian heyday, Half Moon Street was a colourful haunt for bachelors, bohemians and artistic types. During this time, many of the street’s townhouses were split into residential apartments providing popular pied-à-terres for the elite who would meed and pontificate on the matters of the day. Iconic fictional characters lived here, such as Oscar Wilde’s Algernon Moncreiff (who lived at number 14) and Bertie Wooster in P. G. Wodehouse’s famous comedies resided here, as did, in real life, Wilde and his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas.

The street retained its literary associations into the 20th century as Robbie Ross, the journalist, art critic, and devoted friend of Oscar Wilde, moved in to 40 Half Moon Street. He was said to have been visited by his friend Siegfried Sassoon, one of the leading poets of the First World War.

The Garden Suite

Now re-imagined as a 172-room hotel, the flamboyance of the Dandy has been brought up to date with Art Deco flair, elegant engineering, and a stellar collection of some 500 artworks. 

Enter The Mayfair Townhouse and its mirrored lobby and you cannot fail to notice a life-size peacock sculpture by artist Clarita Brinkerhoff inset with 25,000-odd Swarovski crystals, named 'Alfie' after Oscar Wilde's secret lover. Art plays a pivotal role in the hotel’s design; Minda Dowling, an art specialist, curated unusual pieces for The Mayfair Townhouse to bring each space to life; guests are given a QR code on check in to find out more about the art. 

An  ensuite bathroom at The Mayfair Townhouse

Designers-of-the-moment Goddard Littlefair expertly mixed whimsy with tradition; seven of the 15 townhouses are Grade II-listed so much was left untouched, like the myriad wooden staircases with charmingly uneven wooden floors, and the Georgian windows (the hotel installed double glazing on the outside, leaving the original intact). Inside the rooms, expect playful 1920s touches like the brass chandelier above the bed which brings one to mind of the feather headdresses and flapper outfits of the time. There is certainly a sense of the walls having stories to tell. 

Goddard Littlefair also created stories for the hotel, part-fiction, part-fact, which are captured in the art, delving into the personalities of the original inhabitants for inspiration in the choice of colour and details. Design, accessories, and books linked to these characters are entwined throughout and with the ubiquitous fox mascot, there is a lovely light sense of mischief.  

Most mischievous of all is The Dandy Bar with its a theatrical atmosphere; a place to see and be seen in the heart of Mayfair. Seating in the bar is covered in printed velvets and leathers with marble, brass and high gloss timbers as base finishes. On the menu, choose from era-appropriate cocktails such as ‘The Earl in Mayfair’, with Dubonnet Rouge, Gin-infused Florence Fennel and Wormwood Cordial.

The Dandy Bar

Part of the Iconic Luxury Hotels collection, The Mayfair Townhouse is owned by the same brains behind famous country-house hotels Cliveden House and Chewton Glen. Formed in 2016, the portfolio is a family of the finest luxury boutique hotels each championing distinct architecture, cultural heritage and its natural surroundings.

One of the most recent boutique hotel openings in this part of London, The Mayfair Townhouse first opened its doors in December 2020 but was forced to close a few weeks later due to the pandemic. Since it re-opened, it has been consistently ranked as one of London's most luxurious boutique hotels. It is also a dog-friendly hotel; you may see Mr Darcy the resident Pug enjoying a snooze in the lobby. 

A stone's throw from Mayfair's arcades and restaurants, on the verges of Hyde Park and Green Park, Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square, the location couldn't be better. For a place that light-heartedly captures an iconic part of London's literary history, look no further than this characterful row on Half Moon Street.