Review – The May Fair Hotel London

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The May Fair is a hotel that falls under the umbrella of the Club Carlson loyalty program and is a property at which I’ve stayed a few times. In the Club Carlson point heyday (when the top Carlson hotels cost 50,000 points and when you would get the a second award night for free just for having the Club Carlson credit card) this property was fantastic value – you could have a weekend in London’s Mayfair for just 50,000 points! Now the same weekend will set you back 140,000 points so things are a little different.

Location

The May Fair is one of the best located hotels in Central London. It’s just a few hundred yards from Piccadilly (but far enough back to be away from the traffic noise) so it’s easy walking distance to a lot of major London attractions (Green Park, The Ritz, Piccadilly Circus, Bond St etc….) and it’s also very close to Green Park Underground station which will take you straight to locations like the Palace of Westminster & Big Ben.

the-may-fair-mapScreenshot from Google Maps (click to enlarge in new window)

Check-In

Joanna and I were planning on a full 2-nights 3-days in London so we got to the May Fair a few hours earlier than the 4pm check-in time so I wasn’t surprised when our room wasn’t ready. Check-in took a little under 10 minutes and was pleasant enough. The desk agent noted that we’d stayed before, welcomed us back to the hotel and gave us two £15/$20 drinks vouchers for the bar as my Club Carlson Gold gift.

the-may-fair-hotel-london - 30Reception area at the May Fair

This was a points booking (I booked just before the devaluations last year) so the desk agent explained that breakfast wasn’t included but that it could be taken in the restaurant next door should we wish to pay for it.

With formalities over we left our bags with the bell staff and went out for a day in one of my favorite cities.

The Room

When we got back to the May Fair, at around 6pm, our room was ready and it took just a few moments to get our keys and bags…but then came the first “annoyance” of the stay – the elevators.

The May Fair has two and a half elevators – two reasonably sized elevators and one that can hold 4 people at the most – and they are the slowest elevators I’ve ever encountered in a hotel….I’m pretty sure I grew a beard waiting for the elevator on day 1!

the-may-fair-hotel-london - 31The elevator lobby on one of the higher floors of the May Fair

This is definitely something the hotel needs to look into because I’ve noticed this before and now it’s getting irritating.

Anyway…on to the room….

We didn’t get an upgrade on this occasion (I’ve had upgrades here on award stays in the past) but that really wasn’t a big deal as we weren’t planning on spending that much time in the room anyway.

The room started off with a small hallway (like a lot of hotel rooms do) only this hallway didn’t have a door to the bathroom.

the-may-fair-hotel-london - 19Standard room at the May Fair London

The main body of the room wasn’t exactly spacious but it was more than adequate:

the-may-fair-hotel-london - 20Standard room at the May Fair London

the-may-fair-hotel-london - 16Standard room at the May Fair London

the-may-fair-hotel-london - 15Standard room at the May Fair London

The room looked out over a central roof area which wasn’t exactly aesthetically pleasing so I forgot to take a picture of it.

The bathroom was a good size but was also where the second of the annoyances was.

the-may-fair-hotel-london - 13Standard room at the May Fair London

the-may-fair-hotel-london - 37Standard room at the May Fair London

The bath was fine but the shower is designed in a way that I really hate….it isn’t enclosed. Only the first part of the shower is enclosed (see photo above)  which means that everything more than 2 feet away from the wall to which the shower head is attached gets soaked.

Seriously, it’s like a splash zone at a water park!

It’s not quite as annoying as the new “ultra-modern” bathrooms which lack any sort of privacy because there’s no door – they’re undeniably the worst – but this is up there in a strong second place on the list of “hotel things I hate”.

Moving on from the bathroom…..

The May Fair provides complimentary water on both sides of the bed…..

the-may-fair-hotel-london - 23Standard room at the May Fair London

…and the bottles are replenished on a daily basis.

I liked the fact that you could control all the room links from beside the bed as well as controlling the “do not disturb”and “service” signs that light up outside the door.

the-may-fair-hotel-london - 24Standard room at the May Fair London

There were two power outlets beside the glass table (UK-style so you’ll need an adapter) but only one power outlet next to the bed….and that was the third annoyance.

There is absolutely no excuse, in the second decade of the 21st century, for there to be a shortage of power outlets by the bed. None whatsoever.

They have room to maintain highly pointless audio-visual inputs on the wall…….

the-may-fair-hotel-london - 25Standard room at the May Fair London

……so it can’t be too much to ask for there to be a power socket on both sides of the bed!

The fourth and final annunoyance was the blind/curtain at the window – it let in a lot of light from around the sides so, come sunrise, the room was bathed in light. Not something most people are going to appreciate if they’ve been out for a late night.

Dining & Drinking

The main restaurant at the hotel is the May Fair Kitchen which opens for breakfast, afternoon tea, lunch and dinner (check here for exact times).

We didn’t eat in the hotel during our stay (there are a lot of good eateries within a short walk of the hotel) but I did make sure I took some photos:

the-may-fair-hotel-london - 05The May Fair Kitchen

the-may-fair-hotel-london - 01The May Fair Kitchen

The main bar at the May Fair is, unsurprisingly, the May Fair bar and reminds me a little too much of a W-Hotel. That may be a good thing for a lot of people…..but not me.

the-may-fair-hotel-london - 33The May Fair Bar

the-may-fair-hotel-london - 39The May Fair Bar

Drinks are as expensive as you’d expect them to be, the light levels are as low as you’d expect them to be and the ambiance isn’t really designed for someone (me) who’s happily cruising into middle age.

There is one other bar are at the May Fair which I forgot to visit but that’s well worth a mention – the May Fair Terrace.

This is an outside seating area (that’s only partially covered over in the winter) where patrons can enjoy a cigar without breaking the UK’s non-smoking policies. Cocktails and cognac are the drinks of choice here and, if you avoid the overpriced cigars (you can get better for less a short walk away) this isn’t a bad place to relax.

Bottom Line

I’m struggling to think of a London hotel with a better location (if anyone can name one please let me know and we can debate it in the comments section). As a base for exploring what central London has to offer it’s fantastic.

The entry-level rooms are a bit small but perfectly ok – by European standards they’re not a bad size at all so don’t let that put you off. The showers are powerful but very poorly designed and there aren’t enough power outlets by the beds.

The staff are friendly and that’s just as well because you’ll have plenty of time to talk to them in the lobby as you wait for an elevator to arrive.

I love the May Fair’s excellent location and how it allows us to spend less time traveling too and from places we like to visit and more time actually at those places…..but because I hold top-tier status with both Marriott and Hyatt (and not Club Carlson) I’d probably stay at one of their properties if I was paying with cash.

As a points redemption I find the May Fair to be reasonable value (even after the devaluations) but I can get breakfast thrown in at Hyatt and Marriott properties and I would almost certainly get upgraded most times as well…that makes them a better value proposition for me.

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