Mayfair, London

Living in London's Mayfair District

Iyna Bort Caruso

Mayfair has been called “London’s most expensive village.” The district, in the city’s West End, is in the heart of it all and yet apart from it all.

It borders three of the city’s eight royal parks: Hyde Park, St. James’s Park and Green Park. Within Mayfair’s confines are tucked-away gardens and private green spaces. The arts have a stronghold here, too, with galleries, auction houses and, most notably, the Royal Academy, the revered institution founded in 1768.  The baroque composer George Frideric Handel lived in Mayfair. His home is now part of the Handel & Hendrix Museum commemorating the lives of Handel and American rock icon Jimi Hendrix who lived next door 200 years later. Mayfair also has more Michelin-starred restaurants than anywhere else in the capital.

Mayfair was named for the annual May Fair that took place for nearly eight decades until 1764 when it was halted for “lowering the tone” of the neighborhood. Gracious squares were built and became neighborhood focal points. Grand boulevards evolved from dirt roads.

For the next two centuries, Mayfair developed into an area of affluence, influence and power. It’s been home to prime ministers and captains of industry. Queen Elizabeth II was born in Mayfair at her grandparents’ home.

Mayfair’s residential real estate market is decidedly ultra prime and among the most exclusive in the world. Posh new developments are rising alongside grand terraced homes and apartments in period buildings that have stood for centuries. Some residences have been converted into embassies. Georgian is the dominant architectural style. Many are Grade II listed for their historical importance and enjoy special protections.

Once populated by British aristocracy, investors from abroad are counted among Mayfair’s well-heeled buyers these days--if they’re lucky. Mayfair is a highly competitive real estate market. Properties are slow to change hands.