Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 20 September 2019

Executive Travel: Luxury and elegance in the heart of London’s Mayfair district

The May Fair, part of the Radisson collection since June, hosts many Gulf guests at this time of year

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

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