24 hours in Mayfair for art-lovers
Insider guide by Polly Checker, artist and former director at the renowned Offer Waterman gallery in Mayfair. Exclusively created for guests at The Athenaeum Hotel & Residences.
Mayfair is one of the world’s leading neighbourhoods for art and artists. Read on to discover Polly’s recommendations for how to spend a day immersing yourself in its vibrant scene - from quirky restaurants with incredible artworks on their walls, to world-famous institutions such as the Royal Academy of Arts, and a unique Mayfair gallery experience with Polly herself.
Breakfast: The Glade at Sketch
This iconic Mayfair venue is completely unique in that it is part living artwork, part restaurant and bar. Sketch has a series of spaces, all equally intriguing, but The Glade is particularly mesmerising. Refurbished in 2017, this room has an enchanted forest theme brought to life by artists Carolyn Quartermaine and Didier Mahieu. Stunning mirrored tabletops and a tinted glass ceiling were specially commissioned for the space by founder Mourad Mazouz. But Sketch is much more than fancy interiors; the food is actually brilliant and the service thoughtful - highly recommended for an unforgettable start to a day in London dedicated to art and beauty.
Morning: Get an inside look at the Mayfair art scene
As a former art gallery director, Polly hosts an exclusive experience with Ginza and The Athenaeum, which allows guests to get a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most prestigious and exciting commercial galleries in the world. Tours include private viewings at several renowned galleries with Q&A with a gallery director or curator at each stop, as well as the opportunity to meet artist Henry Gerrish in his St. James home to view his amazing collection, which include a selection of prints by David Hockney.
Lunch: Wild Honey
Wild Honey is a contemporary British restaurant in the heart of Mayfair with works by Lucas Foglia, Tim Walker, Guy Bourdin and Denise Grünstein on display. Owned by chef Anthony Demetre, the man also behind multi award-winning Arbutus, this restaurant offers fresh, seasonal cooking at fair prices. The perfect spot to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a relaxed lunch in elegant surroundings.
Afternoon: Royal Academy of Arts
The Royal Academy is a privately funded gallery that is run by its ‘Royal Academicians’, eminent artists and architects elected by their peers for their outstanding contribution to the arts. The RA’s mission is to promote the visual arts through exhibitions and debate and it is very much a living gallery. Each year for the last 250 years, the RA has also hosted its special Summer Exhibition - the world’s largest open submission exhibition, meaning that anyone may submit their work to be considered for inclusion. This is truly one of the major events in the London art calendar and is a unique snapshot of the current art world each year, featuring works from both emerging and world-famous artists and architects. In addition, each Royal Academician donates a piece of work to the Academy’s collection upon election, making it home to an impressive collection of British art.
COYA is a Peruvian restaurant and private members bar that combines a unique dining experience with live music, events and contemporary art. Chef Sanjay Diwedi has created a tantalising menu featuring the flavours of Peru, and the bar has an impressive list of rums and tequilas for you to try. Inside you will discover specially commissioned murals by São Paulo street artist Loro Verz, as well as a changing series of notable artworks.