West End - South
Two of London’s most distinctive and historic neighbourhoods, Mayfair and Soho each have their own contrasting attractions.
Mayfair has always been an enclave of affluence, refinement and tradition. With London’s largest concentration of five star hotels, world famous restaurants and global retailers, it remains popular with well-heeled locals and wealthy tourists alike. But it’s also a beautiful place to discover on foot, with its handsome buildings, many containing art galleries and antiques dealers.
Soho is losing its risqué reputation, but it retains its unique character. The flashing neon signs remain, along with excellent old shops and diverse cuisines. Visitors can browse the boutiques, relax in Soho Square, or treat themselves to a West End show. The nightlife is a big draw for the young and old alike with its vibrant bars, shows and nightclubs.
It was here in Mayfair, that adjectives such as gracious elegant sophisticated and sublime trip off the tongue like coins into a parking meter.
The name goes back to 1600 and probably derives from the fox-hunting cry of 'So-Ho' to call the hounds off the scent in the days when the area of Soho Square was open country.
Four of the best
This recently remodelled couture flagship store is the new retail temple of choice for the city’s super rich. Well worth a visit just to witness the spectacular interior.
Sometimes called The Vinyl Mile because of all the record stalls that line it. In 1995, it served as the backdrop to the Oasis album (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?
The Gallery at Sketch
This witty mix of co-owners' Mourad Mazouz's style and Pierre Gagnaire's food is like eating on a stage set. However, it’s also noted for its staff’s gracious hospitality.
First opened in 1949 by Lou and Caterina Polledri, Bar Italia on Old Berwick Street is a favoured retreat of party people for its legendary coffee and late opening hours.