What makes this tour special
Mayfair has long been the glittering heart of elite life in Britain. For centuries it has been the home of London Society - a place of palaces, elegant townhouses, grand hotels and stylish apartments drawing to it the fashionable, wealthy, and aspirational.
- Begin your tour at Flemings Hotel Mayfair, which was the setting of an Agatha Christie novel, At Bertram’s Hotel.
- Wander the streets of Mayfair and uncover the numerous places which have played backdrops to novels by some of the world’s most famous authors, including Austen, Waugh, Thackeray and Wilde.
- Learn the rise and fall of Oscar Wilde - from his success with The Portrait of Dorian Gray - to his being insulted by the Marquis of Queensberry.
- On Old Bond Street, hear how 2nd Baron Camelford - who so detested the ‘Lounging’ young fashionable men of his time - shot at the Bond Street crowd with his pistol.
- Meander through Berkeley Square - the home of Oscar Wilde, home of Robert Clive, and birthplace of Winston Churchill
- Uncover the scandals of the numerous gentlemen’s clubs in St James Square and along Pall Mall.
- Walk by Buckingham Palace, the centre around which elite once lived.
- Return to Flemings Mayfair Hotel and enjoy a themed cocktail.
Long known as a home for rich bachelors, the Flemings Hotel Mayfair is the beginning of your private tour into London’s social elite and literary scene. The careers of two famous writers who lived here, James Boswell and Henry James, took off at this address. As you leave the hotel, your guide will introduce the world of Oscar Wilde, who set The Importance of Being Earnest, his comedy of Edwardian social manners not far from the hotel.
A few streets on, Wilde’s arguably most famous work is discussed, as the area was home to one of the book’s central figures. The Picture of Dorian Gray - a tale of beauty and corruption amid the gilded world of elite London also gives insight into Wilde’s own life - one of brilliance amid the sexual underworld of late Victorian London.
Your tour unfolds with equally salacious stories of the area’s residents including Evelyn Waugh, Beau Brummel, and Lord Roseberry, the Liberal Prime Minister - who is notorious for his rumoured links to the infamous fall of Oscar Wilde. From tales of the hi-jinx amongst the privileged youth of interwar England to murderous infidelity, the streets of Mayfair have long played host to bubbling scandal.
Your tour winds down exploring the square splashed with gentlemen’s clubs of old and the area’s links to Sherlock Holmes. As you wander back to Flemings Hotel Mayfair, enjoy a lively discussion with your guide about how this historic, gilded facade of a neighborhood was simultaneously the backdrop to savage social competition and desperate insecurity. A place where reputation was all, and where words - an angry letter or an ill-judged snub - could mean ruin. Upon return to the hotel, enjoy a themed cocktail inspired by the tour.
Please note: children under the age of 14 are not allowed in Manetta's Bar after the tour.