Marylebone and Mayfair are two of London’s most glittering areas, home to some beautiful squares, streets and curiosity-inducing mews. Both are perfect for a relaxing stroll of discovery. Though adjoining areas, both are quite distinct in character – here we start with Marylebone, home to slightly more rarified culture than its southern neighbour.
Start at Selfridges Department Store on Oxford street and head north up James Street into Marylebone. Take a left turn at Hinde street and you will find yourself in the lovely Manchester Square, home of the Wallace Collection and an impressive display of eighteenth and nineteenth century paintings and decorative arts.
Browse at your leisure or target your visit on one or two highlights and then head north up Manchester street, turning left at Blandford street and then right into Chiltern street. This is the home of the Chiltern Firehouse – hotel, bar and restaurant in a former firestation. Continue along the street and enjoy some of the small shops and boutiques, including Trunk (for men), Cire Trudon (for the most gorgeous candles) and Mouki Mou, perhaps my favourite boutique for women in London. It stocks lesser known labels from Japan, the US and Europe and is always a source of the unusual, the artisan and uncompromising quality in clothes and accessories. If you are flagging, stop for a coffee and a cinnamon bun at the Monocle café or the Nordic Bakery around the corner in New Cavendish street.
This is also prime vintage fashion territory, home to William Vintage where you can find some of the most enviable vintage clothes in London. Shopping is by appointment only, so if you haven’t managed to make one, then comfort yourself with some delicious chocolate at Rococo Chocolates in Moxon street.
This small street is the foodies’ delight. As well as Rococo, it boasts traditional butcher, The Ginger Pig and next door, La Fomagerie. At the end of the street there is Le Vieux Comptoir, a combination of wine cellar, grocery and bar-café, filled with an array of tempting goodies.
Now you are steps away from one of the most beautiful bookshops in London. Walking back along Moxon street and turning left into Marylebone High street takes you to Daunt Books, not a bricks-and-mortar but a wood-panelling-and-leather spine retailer. Browse at leisure, imagining yourself in Downton Abbey’s library.
If that has worked up an appetite, return to the beautiful restaurant at the Wallace Collection where you can dine in the courtyard. Just remember you are in London, where rain is never more than moments away.
Finally check out the concert schedule at the nearby Wigmore Hall. The exquisite Arts and Crafts interior is worth a visit alone but they also offer a wide range of daytime and evening concerts from early music to jazz. The Sunday morning concerts are particularly enjoyable: informal, relaxed and intimate – the perfect accompaniment to a breakfast at the Wallace Collection.