Flemings Mayfair is not only one of the oldest hotels in London, with a history dating back to 1851, but it is also one of the city’s rare privately owned hotels with it being in the same family for over 40 years now.
The building itself is even older – actually buildings, plural. The hotel is made up of 13 Georgian Townhouses circa 1731 and lest you think the hotel must be stuffy and traditional, it’s not. The family recently invested in a multi-million-dollar refurbishment that skillfully retained the traditional elements of the historic buildings while adding a modern touch.
The result? A luxurious, boutique-style space that is uniquely its own.
We had Flemings on our radar because if there’s anything we love, it’s a boutique hotel that isn’t *just* a hotel, but offers something more, like an interesting history, a unique location, or exquisite service that makes it a home away from home but better. It’s also part of Small Luxury Hotels and we have yet to be disappointed by any of their selections.
So when the opportunity to visit the hotel popped up earlier this year for Pra during a weekend in London, we jumped at it.
Now here’s a little bit of a backstory on how a massive surprise party almost went awry…
Pra thought she was going to be in London to attend an exclusive charity dinner, but this was just the cover story fabricated by her friends who were planning a surprise birthday bash.
Naturally, for Pra, this seemed like the perfect time to also do a review of Flemings since it would be a spot-on collaboration opportunity. Little did she know that her accommodations for that weekend had already been arranged (just another part of the surprise) and she’d be spending, at most, a few hours at Flemings to get ready for the “event”.
Behind the scenes, Yoko was emailing furiously with one of Pra’s besties and the Flemings PR team, trying not to blow anyone’s cover. Pra, on the other hand, was in business mode and on a mission to make sure the review was going according to plan and sending confirmation emails left, right, and centre.
Long story short, it’s very difficult to keep a surprise from a type A person.
Luckily, the plans went off without a hitch, thanks in no small part to the PR team and staff at Flemings for gamely playing along.
So, while Pra did not have the chance to do a full review, she was able to experience the welcome service, get a tour of the room (which had been booked by her friend who really was going to stay there), and grab a drink at the fabulous Manetta’s Bar. Here is a brief lowdown of the hotel, plus a Q&A with General Manager Henrik Muehle, to give you more insight into the Flemings brand and what you can expect from a stay at this luxury hotel.
Interior design firm Tully Filmer managed to find a beautiful balance between old and new, resulting in a warm, welcome feeling the moment you step foot into Flemings. It’s a throwback to the glamour of the 1930’s, with rich jewel tones, plush upholstery, and the signature smooth curves and geometric lines of Art Deco subtly gracing the interior throughout.
All of the rooms carry the understated elegance of the hotel, giving off the confident air of a hotel that knows it doesn’t have anything to prove because it has absolutely nailed its brand.
You immediately sense you’ll be well taken care of but not overly fussed over. It’s a haven for those who need a calm start to the day before rushing out for meetings and dinners, and becomes a cosy cocoon where you can unwind after spending the night at glitzy restaurants and flashy bars.
From what I experienced in the weeks leading up to my “stay” and when we checked in, I couldn’t find fault in the service at Flemings. Everyone was friendly and charming but with the utmost professionalism and pride, and stood true to the longstanding brand of the hotel. I have no doubt that this would have continued throughout my entire stay (and my bestie Viv who actually did end up staying the night can attest to that).
The one-bedroom suite was sumptuous and cosy, with lots of grays (the hotel’s signature base palette to offset the brighter colours) and neutral hues. There was a fab living/dining room with a leather sofa, a four-seater dining table, and a kitchenette. The bedroom held a comfy king size bed with a leather headboard and touches of plaid fabrics that played on the traditional side of design. Off the bedroom was a desk and changing area lined with delightfully quirky moustache wallpaper, which connected to the bathroom.
The home away from home vibe here is just right and the suite would be the perfect option for someone who’s in town for a longer stay, whether for business or leisure. If you’re just popping in and out, you’ll do just fine in one of the deluxe or classic rooms.
Also, keep an eye out for the celebrity photos taken by renowned photographer Andy Gotts – they adorn the walls of the rooms and give it a playfully modern touch.
I obviously didn’t have the opportunity to dine here but the hotel’s fine dining restaurant Ormer Mayfair, led by Michelin-starred Chef Shaun Rankin, has received consistently good reviews.
The menu here is an homage to the ingredients of the Channel Islands, with classic British dishes that are familiar and comforting. From what we hear, this is not the place for delicate eating or watching calories – if you’re at Ormer Mayfair, you’re here to indulge, so put aside any thoughts of “Oh, I shouldn’t be eating this” and just enjoy.
Expect dishes like Jersey crab and lobster, roast duck and côte de boeuf, to fill your stomach. Chef Rankin has created a separate menu for vegetarians, which is a thoughtful and appreciated touch. So rather than the usual lone salad and roast vegetable dish that other places are known to throw in as an afterthought, non-meat eaters have several interesting dishes to choose from for starters and mains.
Both lunch and dinner are served here and I’d recommend popping in for at least one meal whilst here!
Without a doubt, make time to have a tipple at Manetta’s Bar. This classic bar has maintained the glamour of the 1930’s when it was apparently the place to be among society’s cognoscenti and you’ll no doubt be transported to another era when you sit down here.
Leather club chairs, velvet settees, and sophisticated cocktails with names like “The Mysterious Affair” and “They Do It With Mirrors” will have you wondering how long you can hide away in this intimate bar before it becomes inappropriate. The small, sexy space is ideal for pre-dinner cocktails, late night musings and murmurings, and wild and fantastical ideas exchanged over a strong drink.
Please tell us more about your background and career to date.
My career in hospitality spans over 20 years. I joined Flemings Mayfair in 2014 after spending five years as Managing Director at the five-star St James Hotel and Club in Mayfair, and as General Manager at The Capital Hotel & The Levin Hotel in Knightsbridge prior to this, supervising a 2 Michelin Star restaurant and AA 5 Red Star Award.
My mission at Flemings Mayfair has been to oversee every aspect of the management of the hotel, which included the refurbishment of the hotel, suites and apartments, as well as a complete overhaul of the restaurant and bar. My role also focused on repositioning the hotel to the luxury market, raising the overall guest experience, improving the service levels as well as developing Ormer and Manetta’s.
I have also been an Executive Board Director for SLH Limited & Member of the International Advisory Board of Hoteliers (IABH) for Small Luxury Hotels of the World since 2012.
How would you describe the property in one sentence?
With its quintessentially British history and fabulous five-star location near Green Park and London’s main attractions, Flemings offers a luxurious experience right in the heart of Mayfair.
What makes Flemings Hotel so special?
There are many aspects that make Flemings Mayfair unique.
First of all, you can’t beat its prestigious location in the heart of Mayfair; a short walk away from Green Park and iconic attractions such as Buckingham Palace and the boutiques of New Bond Street.
We are also really proud to be home to the destination restaurant Ormer Mayfair by Michelin- starred chef Shaun Rankin. Since its opening 18 months ago, the restaurant has been awarded various accolades, including being voted 5th best restaurant in London and 14th best restaurant in the UK in Harden’s Restaurant Guide for 2018.
Flemings Mayfair is also part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group, a unique portfolio of independent luxury properties around the world. The benefits of being associated with such a prestigious organisation are multiple: it brings brand recognition, increased exposure and provides further confidence to guests about the level of service they can expect at our property.
Lastly, the hotel went through a multimillion-pound refurbishment just 18 months ago, bringing a completely new product to the market and enabling us to reach out to a new audience.
How would you describe your audience?
Our audience varies throughout the year, but, in general, it is a combination of corporate guests during the week and leisure guests on the weekends. Amongst our leisure audience, we also welcome guests from the entertainment industry. Flemings Mayfair is known as a discreet address where anonymity is respected.
Our audience is also a knowing one. Our guests are looking for a memorable London stay. They definitely enjoy the personalised experience, the unique design of the hotel and highly value being based right in the heart of London. They consider Flemings Mayfair their perfect London base.
Flemings Mayfair’s guests mainly come from the UK, followed by the US, Australia and the rest of Europe.
How do you continue to honour the history of the hotel whilst at the same time keeping up with the needs of modern clientele?
The history of the hotel is mainly reflected in its design. The refurbishment brief was to retain the building’s historic features, such as high ceilings and cornicing, whilst seamlessly integrating these with modern amenities. These amenities include international sockets, Bluetooth connectivity and underfloor heating amongst others. The result is an astonishing combination of Mayfair charm and a homely atmosphere that provides the warmest welcome.
Can you tell us a bit more about the guest rooms vs. the townhouse?
Our townhouse apartments have a slightly different feel to our guest rooms. They are all individually decorated and feature fully equipped kitchens. They also have their own private entrance, giving them a secluded feel and an exclusive Mayfair residence status. However, our guests get the same wonderful benefits whether they stay in our guest rooms or townhouse apartments. These include 24-hour Concierge service, our fully equipped gym, room service and more. Each accommodation type has its own particularity and can appeal to everyone, depending on what the needs are. This diversity also allows us to provide tailor-made experiences for all our guests.
How are you ensuring ongoing year on year growth of the property? (business or leisure incentives, etc…?)
Following our refurbishment, we shifted our focus to new markets, including the luxury segment, as we felt confident that our product and services would be a great fit.
With this strategy, we were able to drive up our Average Daily Rate, therefore ensuring business growth year on year.
Additionally, we always ensure that we get a balanced mix of business vs. leisure business. This also allows us to keep close control over our pricing strategy.
How do you maintain consistency in service levels for customers?
We have a dedicated Guest Services Team, including an Executive Guest Services Manager, who specifically ensure that guests’ needs are anticipated.
The hotel also runs a post-survey tool and allows the team to monitor ongoing guest feedback. This is a great way for us to get an immediate snapshot of what we are doing well, what could be improved in the eyes of our guests and a great tool to recognize outstanding staff. It also means that we do not get complacent with our levels of product and service.
In addition to the above, we created the position of Hotel Manager at the end of last year. The aim of this decision was to have a dedicated team member who acts as a link between the operational and management teams to ensure that communication is flowing between departments and that all aspects of the guest’s journey are flawless.
For a guest who is spending the weekend at the hotel, what would you recommend for the most quintessential Flemings experience?
Our Studio Suites are definitely a room type to experience. They all feature an in-room lounge area, a great amount of space, a private patio and most importantly, they come with their own gin bar! Expect a selection of the world’s finest gins along with various mixers. Whenever you are in the mood for a refreshing cocktail, just let a member of our team know and we will bring some ice to your room so that you can whip up your personal creation in minutes.
Of course, make sure to experience Ormer Mayfair by Shaun Rankin for the freshest seasonal produce including fresh lobster, crab, oysters, hand dived scallops, Jersey royals and hand- picked shoreline foraged herbs. And lastly, if you want to truly experience Mayfair like a local, speak to one of our knowledgeable concierge team members who will be delighted to recommend some nearby hidden gems, including the secluded and vibrant Shepherd Market.
What are the first and last impressions you would like guests to walk away with?
We want our guests to feel at home as soon as they walk in to Flemings Mayfair. The genuine friendliness of the team is first thing we want people to notice. By the time they leave the hotel, guests should feel like they have experienced London like a local and met wonderful people that made their stay memorable.
What is your favourite hotel in the world? And why?
I am fortunate to have travelled all over the world and to have stayed in wonderful properties. If I had to pick one hotel in particular, I would choose the Marbella Club Hotel in Marbella, Spain. The location is unparalleled: the beachfront is a short walk away with pristine blue waters. I have stayed there on several occasions – including a special birthday – and this place really holds a special place in my heart.
7-12 Half Moon Street, Mayfair, London