48 Hours in Mayfair with The Beaumont's Duncan Palmer

Words by
Sphere Editors

25th November 2022

As the Managing Director of luxurious 5-star hotel, The Beaumont, Duncan Palmer is both an in-the-know local and an expert on the wider joys London has to offer the cultured visitor. We discover both as he shares his plans for a festive weekend in London’s Mayfair, including delicious food, art discoveries and quiet contemplation.

Duncan Palmer
Duncan Palmer of The Beaumont

The last place I had a fabulous meal… is Michel Roux’s Le Gavroche – I worked with Michel when I was at The Langham. A recent discovery is Jamavar, an Indian restaurant next to The Connaught, where I was General Manager for a number of years. After decades in the Far East, I enjoy spicy food and I particularly relish their Laal Maas, 8 hours slow-cooked Hampshire lamb shank with Rajasthani chilli from their pan-Indian menu.

Jamovar is at 8 Mount Street, London, W1

I love wandering around the back streets of Mayfair on a Saturday morning... when the streets are relatively quiet to visit the off-the-beaten-track private art galleries as well as the better known ones.  I recommend starting just outside The Beaumont and looking up to take a view of our stunning piece of public art – Sir Antony Gormley’s ROOM – a 3 storey high sculpture that sits on a wing of the hotel and is not just art but also a bedroom.

Photo by Mark Hazeldine
ROOM by Antony Gormley, at The Beaumont

I would then wander to see what is on at any of the following: Hauser & Wirth, Lindsay Ingram, Gagosian, David Zwirner, Pace, Sadie Coles, Victoria Miro and Michael Werner, punctuated by lunch at Cecconi’s, perhaps Eggs Benedict and a glass of Champagne.  I might divert to some of the shops on and around Bond Street.

Lyndsey Ingram
Lyndsey Ingram's gallery is at 20 Bourdon Street, Mayfair

My perfect evening in London involves… some of the traditional, long-standing pubs in this immediate neighbourhood are undergoing a renaissance and if I were staying at The Beaumont overnight, I might start my evening with a miniature pub-crawl, taking in the Barley Mow on Duke Street and the renovated Mount St. Restaurant and Audley Public House on South Audley Street.

Mount Street Restaurant
A Blackcurrant & Liquorice Souffle from the newly opened Mount Street Restaurant, Mayfair

Although I do not have much need for a hairdresser... I enjoy a wet shave and love the care and attention, as well as the old-world atmosphere of Geo F Trumper on Curzon Street.  Jermyn Street is always an inspiration when it comes to menswear, but I confess I have my shirts and suits made in Hong Kong, where I have a tailor of many year’s standing.  Most of the top men’s shoe shops are also located here – my son calls me a centipede as I have so many shoes, and my taste runs from traditional Church’s to Fratelli Rossetti’s Italian craftsmanship.  

Once on Jermyn Street, it is a small detour to D.R. Harris, the venerable Chemist and Perfumery on St James’s.  They provide all the bathroom amenities at The Beaumont and have a huge selection of grooming and skincare products.  But I like to pick up a bottle of their Original Pick-Me-Up, a modified version of their well-known tonic, originally used as a hangover cure but now reimagined as Cocktail Bitters. Absolutely delicious in a Martinez, as served in our Le Magritte Bar at The Beaumont.

D. R Harris
The Beaumont Hotel works closely with Mayfair chemist D. R Harris

For a truly London experience I always recommend our guests … visit Heywood Hill, the bookshop on Curzon Street, a must-go destination for anyone who loves the written word and physical books.  Described as the late Queen’s favourite bookshop and a Royal Warrant-holder, its team of booksellers are passionate and informed and I can guarantee you will not leave without a book. Nancy Mitford worked there for a few years at the end of the Second World War.

Heywood Hill
Duncan's favourite bookstore is Heywood Hill, 10 Curzon Street, Mayfair

You can’t come to Mayfair and not… enjoy a traditional Afternoon Tea. Of course, I recommend The Beaumont’s Festive Afternoon Tea in Gatsby’s Room, surrounded by gorgeous Christmas decorations, and full of glorious seasonal flavours, such as Roast Norfolk Bronze Turkey sandwiches, Freshly Baked Cranberry and Buttermilk Scones, Mont Blanc Éclairs and so on.  A glass of Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs makes it even more festive!  And our talented live pianist provides a wonderful accompaniment.

Afternoon Tea
Christmas Afternoon Tea at The Beaumont's Gatsby Room, 8 Balderton Street, Mayfair

My favourite new thing to do in Mayfair is… visit North Audley Street which is becoming a real foodie destination. Mercato Metropolitano is located in the most beautifully renovated, deconsecrated Grade 1 listed church. Surrounded by stunning stained windows and intricate carvings, you can eat delicious food from a wide range of cuisines, including the best pizza, Malaysian street food and Argentinian grills.

My children love Badiani for its outstanding Italian gelato. Alternatively, we occasionally treat ourselves to traditional fish and chips from the Mayfair Chippy and have yet to discover the brand-new Saltie Girl fish restaurant which has opened up next door.

Mayfair Chippy
Mayfair's very own fish and chip shop at 14 North Audley Street

For me, the most beautiful experience to enjoy at The Beaumont in December and across the festive period is… the Ever After Garden in Grosvenor Square. This year the garden opens on November 23 until 23 December.  Best viewed between 3pm and 9pm, you can see 25,000 illuminated white roses planted across the square.

People are invited to dedicate a rose in memory of a loved one, whilst making a donation in support of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. It is a calm and contemplative space and a lovely counterpoint to the festive lights on the surrounding shopping streets.

Grosvenor Square
The Ever After Garden is filled with white silk roses to commemorate loved ones and raise money for The Royal Marsden

For December my culture picks are.. the ballet.  I have a young daughter and the opulence of the grand Royal Opera House setting and the magic on the stage will create ever-lasting memories. I would also recommend the Family Nutcracker backstage tours for little ballet nuts.

The Beaumont