Hidden from the bustle of central Mayfair is a remarkable collection of historic arcades. These atmospheric covered alleyways are lined with timber-framed bay windows and feature generations-old tailors, jewellers, watchmakers, cobblers and specialty shops, all neatly packed into the atmospheric Edwardian walkways. Here we profile the top three Mayfair arcades, all within walking distance of The Chesterfield Mayfair.
Piccadilly Arcade connects the world-famous tailors of Jermyn Street with the flagship retailers of Piccadilly. Opened at the turn of the 20th century, the arcade has been a staple for English gentlemen for over 100 years, surviving both the Blitz and the Battle of Britain despite a direct bomb hit. Its client list is studded with royals and celebrities alike, while its lavish storefronts are the subject of many an Anglophile’s lens.
A total of 28 boutiques call the Piccadilly Arcade home. Most of these specialise in bespoke menswear. On the Jermyn Street side, the tone is emphatically set by New & Lingwood, whose jewel-coloured paisley dressing gowns and floral-patterned waistcoats draw more than a double take from passers-by. The world-renowned tailors opened over 150 years ago as a supplier to the scholars of Eton College. Other Piccadilly Arcade highlights include the silken and velvet waistcoats and bowties of Favourbrook and the enamel cufflinks of Royal Warrant holders Benson & Clegg. Most unique of all stores is The Armoury of St. James’s, whose hand-painted toy soldiers line up in dress colours along its many storefront windows.
A stone’s throw from Piccadilly Arcade, Princes Arcade is its little, debonair sister, again connecting Piccadilly to Jermyn Street. The renowned Mayfair arcade dates back to the 30s and was refurbished just two years ago by the Queen’s Crown Estate in order to promote creative retailers. Its resident boutiques focus on high-end and bespoke fashion, with a few notable additions.
Christys’ dates back almost 250 years, supplying the British aristocracy’s hats at world-famous occasions such as Royal Ascot and Wimbledon. Its impressive client list includes Prince Albert, whose Christys’ headpiece helped popularise the top hat in Victorian England. Meanwhile Prestat has been the preferred chocolatier of the Royal Family since 1902. Its chocolates accompanied the Royal Britannia on her many voyages, and Her Majesty awarded the prestigious makers with a Royal Warrant. Roald Dahl even drew inspiration from its sublime truffles.
The grande dame of Mayfair arcades has been delighting the London public for over two centuries. Stretching almost 200 yards between Piccadilly and Burlington Gardens, it has remained true to its founding philosophy as a unique centre of upmarket shopping, specialising in jewellery and watches. Highlights include the specialist shoe designer Manolo Blahnik, whose regal heels and striking designs are as arch as they are captivating. In addition, the gilded fantasy grotto interiors of Ladurée and the floral tapestries of British winemakers Nyetimber are fantastical. The many boutique jewellery stores have unparalleled collections of signed originals from famed jewellers, alongside mesmerising Victorian heirlooms.
The arcade retains much of its vintage, regal splendour, with an impressively grand neoclassical stone portal inviting guests from Piccadilly. The Arcade is also home to Victorian-styled Beadles, or private guards, who stroll the covered pathway in elaborate traditional frocks. These individuals were originally recruited from the 1st Earl of Burlington’s regiment, the 10th Royal Hussars, and now feature many veterans of the UK armed forces.
Stay at Red Carnation Hotels’ The Chesterfield Mayfair to embrace all that London’s most glamorous borough has to offer, including its utterly charming Mayfair arcades.