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If only owning a piece of Mayfair was as easy as grabbing a house or hotel on the Monopoly board game! Sadly, it’s not the case. Properties go for millions of pounds and you need to be seriously rich to stand a chance of finding your own place in this historic and extremely trendy part of London.
But now there is a way. You can buy a little piece of it and share it, rather like joining an exclusive club. Take 47 Park Street, which is part of the Marriott group. They have come up with something called fractional ownership which means you can have your own one or two bedroom residence on a part time basis with the additional comforts of a world class five star hotel thrown in. Prices start at £106,000 ($212,000) for at least 21 nights per year with a lease running to 2050. On top of that there are annual dues of £5,050 ($10,100).
For the regular visitor to London, (you could be a tax exile, business person or addicted shopper) it could be the perfect base to have in one of the most exciting cities in the world without the need and considerably extra expense of staying in expensive hotels or maintaining your own property. And you can always hand it on to your nearest and dearest who would be forever grateful for you having had the foresight to find such a lovely place to stay in London.
We got a chance to sample it for a night on a recent trip and met up with the Project Director Paul Reynolds who after five years of working for the Marriot organisation has just been given the task of seeing this scheme through. “Fractional ownership is a great idea and I’m sure there are all sorts of people out there who would find it just right for their particular needs and what we are offering here is a very discreet five star service,” he told us.
It was wet and rather gloomy in London town and it was so nice to receive a warm welcome and from the moment we stepped inside our apartment there was certainly a very homely feel to it. Nicely and classically furnished the beautiful sitting room and dining room was more than ample for anyone’s needs. The bedroom was a good size and a small self-contained kitchen made dining in with your own shop-bought food an easy alternative to dining out or having room service.
Mayfair has always been an address for the rich and famous. And of course the Monopoly board rates it as the most expensive place to buy property! Build your houses and hotels on Mayfair and you will almost certainly win the game! It is also a most interesting area to explore. We particularly like the three nineteenth century arcades called Burlington, Piccadilly and Princes. They are full of small, elegant shops selling British luxury items from clothes to chocolates. The Burlington was built in 1819 and is still patrolled by beadles in uniform who have the power to remove anyone who misbehaves so, remember, no running, no whistling and you must not put an umbrella up in the arcade!
This is also Georgian London at its best. One of London’s earliest squares is here – St James’s laid out in the 1670’s and most of the buildings date from the 18th and 19th century. Many famous and illustrious people have resided in this area of London including General Eisenhower who had his headquarters here during World War ll. Pall Mall is another fine street and for over 150 years it has been home to a range of very exclusive gentlemen’s clubs.
To get a flavour of all this just set off and walk; on a fine day nothing could be nicer. And if you want to stay at 47 Park Street you can treat it just like a hotel and stay there for a night or more. The rates vary between $600 and $1400 per night.
It certainly seems to suit Maria Archer who hails from Dublin. After seven years of staying in hotels she wanted something more like a home and chose 47 Park Street as the perfect answer. “We needed something more than a hotel but didn’t want the hassle of maintaining an apartment,” she said. They have four homes; one in Cork, Monaco, Varbonne and Megeve but she will soon be moving to Dublin full-time. Obviously with such a jet-setting life she finds that fractional ownership is good value for money. “It means I can plan my budgets carefully and manage cash flow without having to worry about expensive accommodation in London during the Christmas season for example.”
She forgot to mention that 47 Park Street has a very special ace up its sleeve. It has its own private door to one of the best restaurants in London in the shape of Le Gavroche and its three Michelin stars!
You walk down a short corridor and through a very unassuming door and suddenly you are in the rather hallowed circles of this amazing establishment. It is celebrating forty years of amazing cooking. Amazing because in 1982 this restaurant became the first in the UK to be awarded three Michelin stars under the guiding and incredibly talented hands of the Roux brothers, Michel and Albert; but the story of the Roux brothers goes back much further to 1967 when they first opened Le Gavroche. This was a time when the UK was something of a culinary desert. The Roux brothers changed all that with their fantastic cooking, raising the standards and opening the eyes of budding chefs everywhere. They had their own television programmes, wrote books and provided training to many of today’s best chefs.
Le Gavroche is now in the hands of Albert’s son Michel (named after his uncle and pictured on the right in the photo) and he continues in fine style the Roux philosophy for superb cuisine with great attention to detail. He is very fond of cooking game and we are particularly keen to eat it so he very kindly squeezed us into his extremely busy restaurant (it is normally booked up three months in advance) and because we had arrived quite early in the evening he had time to pop up from his busy kitchen to see us. A chip off the old block he has an unmistakeable passion for cooking and all that goes with it, just like his father and uncle.
So we started with wild duck and pistachio pie with roasted little gem salad. It was superb. It was one of those memorable dishes that you would love to have the recipe for. As was the classic foie gras terrine with French bean salad with truffles. Main course was a roasted grey partridge and the other dish was a clever mix of four different types of game - snipe, the smallest of the game birds, pheasant, partridge and venison. Throughout all of this came a very nice selection of wine to go with our food. We are great fans of wine by the glass and by leaving it in the hands of the sommelier, after first discussing your likes and dislikes, it means you can look forward to a pleasant mix of wines to go with the dishes.
After our puddings, a mille-feuille aux poires (pear and puff pastry layers in a caramel sauce) and the classic tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream we left through our secret door, replete and walking on air. We stopped off in the downstairs sitting room to glance through a few choice magazines and then it was time for bed. Verdict: A superb home from home which we wouldn’t mind getting used to!
47 Park Street, Mayfair, London, W1K 7EB
0044 (0) 20 7950 5528
43 Upper Brook St
London, W1K 7QR
0044 (0) 2074080881
Keith Allan and Lynne Gray travelled from their home in Northumberland with National Express East Coast.
National Express East Coast operates high-speed train services along the East Coast Main Line, linking Edinburgh with the North East of England, Yorkshire, the East Midlands and London Kings Cross.
For bookings and enquiries visit www.nationalexpresseastcoast.com or call National Express East Coast on 0044 (0) 8457 225 225
Husband and wife, Keith Allan and Lynne Gray are travel writers and photographers based in Berwick upon Tweed on the English/Scottish border. They have worked for The Times, Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, House and Garden, Scotland on Sunday and The Herald. For more than twenty years they have worked as freelance producers and reporters for BBC Radio, working from their own independent studio for BBC Radio 4, Radio 5 and Radio Scotland as well as the BBC’s World Service.