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

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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