Didn’t know quite what to expect during our London weekend. The media images I’ve seen of our capital in recent months either show the deserted streets of the square mile or the riotous behaviour of youngsters spilling out of London pubs.
Euston station was certainly quieter when we arrived and so were the streets on the way to our Mayfair hotel. We had never stayed here before preferring another of the group’s hotels in Bloomsbury.
That one, which is ranked amongst the top in London on TripAdvisor, has stayed shut since the start of the pandemic and sadly looks set to remain so until March.
There was a bit of life in the piano bar which enticingly could remain open 24/7 despite nearly every other watering hole having to shut at 10pm.
Next morning after a lie in and a full English breakfast we wandered the streets of Mayfair aimlessly, which is sometimes the best way.
Amidst these quiet streets just a few blocks away from the great London parks – Hyde, Green and St. James – we came across an abundance of blue plaques.
One home boasted two famous former residents – 18th century dandy George ‘Beau’ Brummel and former Prime Minister Anthony Eden.
Apparently the house is one of only 17 ‘double blues’, in 2014 this unremarkable Regency terraced property, admittedly there are six floors, was on the market for £8.4 million.
Just next door, number 6 Chesterfield Street bears a plaque dedicated to the 20th century novelist and playwright William Somerset Maugham.
Around the corner, on Curzon Street, the writer Nancy Mitford, the 1st Marquess of Reading Rufus Isaacs and another former Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, also have plaques commemorating their lives in the heart of London.
Not far away we stumbled upon Shepherd Market a charming small square and piazza with an impressive range of boutique shops, restaurants and alluring Victorian pubs.
We’d only walked about 100 yards and there was more history and fun to be had than you could surely find in a similar space in any other city in the world.
When I’m here I’m always reminded of this quote from the writer Samuel Johnson.
Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.
Covid, or no Covid, London will always be London and my short stay here has restored some of my pride in Britain.