West of Piccadilly Circus is the elegant district of Mayfair. Piccadilly (underground station: Piccadilly Circus) is a shopping street with exclusive clothing stores, the top bookstore Hatchard’s, and delightfully but extremely old-fashioned shops where you can buy hunting pink or split-cane fishing rods, as well as the famous delicatessen and tea store Fortnum & Mason, suppliers to the court since 1707. Every hour the store’s founders, Fortnum and Mason, strike the hour on a clock above the entrance. Opposite this, the Burlington Arcade (particularly good for expensive silk ties and cravats) is also the home of Royal Academy of Arts, which includes an art school and gallery with changing exhibitions. When you come out at the other end of the arcade you’re just a few steps from a branch of the British Museum, the Museum of Mankind, with exhibits from past and present cultures from the entire world.
Luxurious clothing and antique shops are the attractions of Mayfair’s principal thoroughfare, Bond Street (underground station: Piccadilly Circus or Bond Street). Here and in Cork Street, you’ll find one private art gallery after another, while Bond Street is home to the established auction house Sotheby’s. The area around Berkeley Square and Grosvenor Square has been a preferred residential area of the upper classes for 300 years, although today more and more houses are being converted into offices and embassies. You can still sense the original atmosphere in the small side streets southwest of Berkeley Square, particularly in the small shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants of Shepherd’s Market. It was here that the original May fairs were held – on the site of the earlier cattle and feed market – until the aristocracy started settling here around 1700. In Mayfair you will find such famous hotels as Claridge’s in Brook Street or the Ritz on Piccadilly opposite Berkeley Street.