The May Fair

London Luxury Without The Pretension

Frequented by celebrities, brimming with business professionals and voted London’s best hotel bar by readers of The Guardian, The May Fair has all the makings of an institution keen on upholding the UK’s traditional class system. Yet, just like the details in the décor, this unique hotel and watering hole is full of surprises. Unlike many of its competitors, The May Fair’s bar follows a strict open door policy, where everyone and anyone is welcome to relax, unwind and enjoy the surroundings.

Relaunched in 2006 after a £75m (US $125m) refurbishment, the 406-bed hotel was designed by a team of international experts under the direction of world-renowned designer Michael Attenborough and the wife of the hotel’s owner, Amrit Singh. Utilizing original artifacts from Thailand, India and China alongside a profusion of sharp and sleek materials such as glass, leather, slate and marble, the team created an establishment unmatched anywhere else in the world.

In addition to the alteration of every one of the hotel’s rooms, an entirely new wing, grand ballrooms and a bar added. One of the most striking additions was the creation of a line, Signature Suites, that have single-handedly injected a heavy dose of cool into this iconic London hot spot. A hit with visiting celebrities and those with money to burn, the suites range from the hot pink Schiaparelli Suite and Asian-inspired Opium room to the crisp white lines of the Penthouse suite, which features a revolving circular bed in the second bedroom.

Not one to limit its clientele to those looking for a place to rest their head, The May Fair offers Londoners the chance to kick up their heels in style at its highly stylized bar. Saturated in a warm color palette, decadent sink-into-suede and leather lounges and even designer fireplaces, the bar attracts a spectrum of well-dressed style starters, all keen to experience its seemingly unending list of cocktails created by head mixologist Marios Elios. For those with a bulging wallet, the establishment’s most expensive drink—the May Fair Martini at £150—is the only option created with Hennesy Richard, black cherry Chambord, amaretto, vanilla-infused sugar and Moet & Chandon rose. Putting a twist on a favored classic is something the bar’s staff enjoys with Elios. “Never be afraid to try something new, and be aware of what’s around you,” Elios says. “I am constantly sourcing inspiration from everywhere—other bars, restaurants, clubs, websites, and new trends in the world’s capital cities.”

If the mark of good design is its ability to truly reflect the needs and wants of those using it, then London’s May Fair Hotel may well be one of the best hotels going today. Refreshingly unique and designed for those with a truly discerning eye, it is carving out a new niche for five-star hotels. “There is nothing quite like it,” Attenborough says. “It’s a totally new interpretation of a large hotel…offering luxury without pretension.”

– Fiona Killackey

May Fair Martini Flight

Destination Milan
Grey Goose Orange, basil, grapefruit, blood orange, a drop of olive oil and Campari. To accompany pink grapefruit macaroon, basil and citrus sorbet.

Destination London
Strawberry Stoli, double cream, aged 21-year balsamic vinegar, freshly squeezed lemon and sugar. To accompany English strawberry compote with smoked duck.

Destination Amsterdam
Fennel, liquorice, Beefeater gin and a dash of sugar. To accompany iced fennel salad with black pepper, fennel juice and poached quail egg.