Of the more than 125,000 hotels in London, why choose the pricey Mayfair? For me, it certainly wasn’t the fact that royalty and celebrities stay here. (Chances are, Jackie O, Mikhail Gorbachev and Prince Michael of Kent weren’t given rooms overlooking the parking lot.) And if you’re looking for large spaces and a lovingly warm reception, go elsewhere. This place is very London — frequently gorgeous but often cold.In This Post
The hotel has three things going for it: excellent location, recent renovation and top-notch degustation. First and foremost, it’s one of the newer additions to Starwood’s Luxury Collection, now bookable with points. The building was originally constructed in 1955, but it got a multimillion-dollar makeover in 2017 from Alex Kravetz Designs, a company that has updated the looks of many a swank Ritz-Carlton, Sheraton and Intercontinental. This redesign added luxe touches, like Italian marble bathrooms and wood-paneled entrances to the 225 bedrooms (64 of which are suites).
The Westbury also hosts two destination dining spots: Alyn Williams at the Westbury which has a Michelin star) and Tsukiji Sushi Restaurant, a 20-seat Japanese space. I spent four nights at the hotel and got a chance to soak up the amenities — and a lot of good food.Hotel Westbury Mayfair Address 37 Conduit Street, London W1S 2YF, United Kingdom City London Phone 44 20 7629 7755 Website http://www.westburymayfair.com/ Program SPG
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Entry-level rooms here cost between $450 and $500 — or 20,000 Starpoints — a night. I used the Citi Prestige card and its fourth-night-free feature, so I ended up spending $1,409.98 total (the fourth-night credit saved me $469.91). Taking that 4th Night Free discount into account, I spent an average of $352 per night — almost $100 less than it would have been otherwise.
The hotel is located near many of London’s most famous neighborhoods. Mayfair is near the West End, Carnaby Street, Savile Row, Piccadilly Circus and Hyde Park. Stand in front of the entrance and you could see Burberry, Hermes and dozens of other posh spots less than a block away. Bond, Regent and Oxford streets were all very close too, but that meant you’d be walking down crowded streets with cars and taxis whizzing by at warp speed (a bicyclist ran over my toes and then glared at me like it was my fault). The nearest Tube stations were Bond Street and Knightsbridge.Check-in
Doormen-cum-porters stood guard at the front entrance. These two were kind enough to allow me to get a photo when they weren’t running around helping other guests.
Past the intricately sculpted doors were four massive pillars, an elegant rug, and a lounge-like area on either side of the central aisle.
Make a left and you’d be heading toward the Polo Bar. This lounge area had stunning blue chairs.
Make a right and you’d see the stylish front desk and concierge areas.
At check-in, I was informed that because I have SPG Gold status (thanks to the Amex Platinum), I could get free Wi-Fi for the stay or a drink at the bar (just one) or 250 points. I chose the Wi-Fi. Note that that breakfast was not free; guests could pay £25 ($32) per person for a morning meal at the Alyn Williams the Westbury (the restaurant on the ground floor) or via room service. I ate breakfast at cafés and restaurants near the hotel.
Of all the hotels I’d visited in the last year, the folks here were the least friendly. I felt like I was being read the house rules rather than being welcomed into a new space. The men at the concierge desk ignored me at first, and were of minimal help even after I’d grabbed their attention. Perhaps my questions seemed déclassé? I asked about the London Tube Oyster card (sorry, but taxis are expensive in London) and for advice when visiting the East End, a formerly gritty area where some of the hippest galleries, shops, restaurants and bars are located. All I got were mumbles and shrugs.Room
I stayed in a tasteful Signature room with a king bed.
I appreciated the electric tea kettle, bottle of water in glass, and desk-height outlets — so I didn’t have to crawl on my hands and knees to plug in my laptop cord.
The room came with a full-length mirror, minibar, flat-screen TV and in-room safe.
I did not touch the fruit juice, soda, Bombay gin, sparkling wine or beer, but I did appreciate that these were here should I need them.
On the TV screen was a customized welcome message from Ashley Shaw, the general manager. Thanks, Ash!
I did not have the foresight to ask about my view when booking the room, and I was too tired to complain, go back to the front desk and ask for something nicer. So what did I see outside my window? Let’s see, there were trash bins, parked cars and workers taking cigarette breaks. No eye candy.
Tip: This is also where the map sends some Uber drivers, so you may need to explain how to get out of this cul de sac and drive to the proper front entrance.
The marble in the bathroom was elegant, but no amount of fine materials could mask the fact that this was a small bathroom. One person at a time.
Toiletries were made by Etro, including these soaps, shampoo and conditioner.
The rainfall shower head sprayed down from the ceiling, which meant taller people didn’t have to crouch. Not one of my concerns at five foot, seven inches, but it passed the TPG shower test.
My wife appreciated the fact that there was a bathtub.
Food and Beverage
Attention to detail elevates room service at a hotel like this; note the colorful flowers, white tablecloth, finely folded napkins and highly polished silverware. The bread arrived warm, the dishes were plated attractively, and the portions were fair.
Shown here, from top center: salad Nicoise, mashed potatoes, seafood pasta, chicken broth and bread basket with butter dish. This meal cost $76, not including “tray charges” ($4.50), “service charge room service” ($10) and tip.
I didn’t eat at the Tsukiji Sushi restaurant, but here’s what it looked like from the street.
I did eat at the Alyn Williams at the Westbury, also on the ground floor but not accessible from the street. It’s earned a Michelin star, and offers several kinds of menus: a la carte dinner, dinner tasting meal, vegetarian dinner and set lunch.
This was a fun meal. From the lobby, big wood doors with ornate handles opened onto a fancy interior with a focus on the bottles of wine stored in back-lit racks. Tip: Read the 27-page wine list in advance so you know what to order when eating here.
There was a main room, two private rooms and a small room off to the left.
I had the eight-course tasting menu for £90 ($119) per person. Of course, the meal came with many free extras like the gougères (cheese puffs, bottom right) at the start of the meal and petit-fours at the end.
Among the standout dishes was this lobster taco with green gazpacho — which the menu noted “as seen on television’s MasterChef.”
We also liked the roasted monkfish with fennel, cashew and coconut.
The dessert looked like a white hockey puck; a quick tap on the shell revealed the insides, melding ingredients you might not expect to work well together, including passionfruit, espresso, white chocolate and saffron.
An optional cheese course was also available, and they wheeled out the goods to tempt us. I don’t know how people find the room; I was stuffed, in a good way.
Here’s the charming ending: The staff saw me taking photos with every course and thus pegged me as a foodie (if not an Alyn Williams fan). Much to my surprise, they asked if I wanted to see the kitchen and meet the chef. Well, yes I did!
So I got a tour of the place as they were cleaning it up. It was spotless. Chef Williams was downright friendly and insisted on signing the menu. This was the highlight of my stay.
The gym, open from 6:00am to 11:00pm, featured a few cardio machines — treadmill and elliptical — as well as free weights.
The Westbury’s central location is its biggest asset. Both room service and dinner at Alyn Williams were delicious. But my room was small and had a truly yucky view. The staff seemed aloof, bordering on snobby. If hospitality and value matter to you, consider other London hotels.