Focus On Mayfair: The Monopoly Board big wig has overtaken Knightsbridge as the most expensive part of London

Melissa York
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The Royal Academy of Arts

Last month, Mayfair knocked Knightsbridge off the top spot as the most expensive place to buy in London for the first time in 10 years.

Local agent Wetherells, which commissioned the report from Dataloft, puts this dethroning down to a lack of new homes being built in Knightsbridge, whereas that certainly isn’t the case in Mayfair.

The area has undergone an enormous change in the last decade. Though it’s the most coveted spot on the traditional Monopoly board, it hasn’t always been in fashion.

There are somewhere in the region of 250 apartments under development delivering over the next five to seven years

“Its status as a highly coveted London address can be traced back as early as the mid-1600s when it became a neighbourhood favoured by English aristocracy who, after the Great Fire of London, fled the City and headed west,” says Frances Clacy from estate agent Savills.

It clung on until the 1950s, but was usurped by its hipper neighbour Chelsea. Meanwhile, the hedge funds moved in, converting once elegant homes into offices and demanding places to eat and shop during working hours. “Mount Street now rivals Bond Street and every Mayfair street has at least one restaurant that requires reservations weeks in advance,” notes buying agent Nathalie Hirst.

Before anyone knew what was happening, people were sticking around in Mayfair after work and residential developers began to see its potential again. Around the same time, the Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor Estate and Westminster City Council embarked on an era of regeneration and all the competition began to push up prices.

“There are somewhere in the region of 250 apartments under development delivering over the next five to seven years,” says Fred Scarlett of Mayfair-based developer Clivedale London. “The total net area of all these apartments would amass circa 600,000sqft – just over half the size of the Leadenhall Building.”

Dishes at Gymkhana

On top of this, Crossrail is coming to Bond Street this year, taking passengers to Heathrow in 27 minutes, pushing the average sale price to £4.2m, according to research by Hamptons International. It also records a healthy year-on-year increase of 6.9 per cent and notes that 67 per cent of sales last year were over £2m. And the good times are set to continue, with JLL’s new Mayfair report predicting 6 per cent rental growth and 9 per cent price growth from 2018 to 2022.

So who is buying these shiny new apartments? Not who you think. Sure there are plenty of international buyers, but their tastes have changed recently according to Simon Barnes from H. Barnes & Co.

“Having previously preferred new builds, where Chinese and Asian investors would buy up to 10 units in one development, now they are focusing on trophy homes. I’ve noticed that the last few big deals were transacted by wealthy Chinese buying large single residences for upwards of £10m.”

Mayfair-based Wetherells says 42 nationalities are represented in the area with 60 per cent born overseas. Yet, there’s been a shift towards a younger demographic, with 45 per cent of its residents aged 25 to 44.

Alastair Mercer, director at Dexters Mayfair, says, “Thirty years ago, this was where foreign royalty, prime ministers and a large diplomatic community lived. Now it’s home to wealth managers, young business owners and ultra-wealthy overseas students.”

Afternoon tea at Fortnum & Masons

Area highlights

If you’re not convinced yet that Mayfair is the ultimate London address, perhaps you will be after a visit to the Handel & Hendrix Museum. This spot behind Claridges was home to two musicians, separated by a wall and about 200 years, namely Baroque composer George Handel and rock legend Jimi Hendrix. Once you’ve filled your ears, feast your eyes on the collection at the Royal Academy of Arts, Britain’s oldest art school and artistic patron for 250 years. It’s also opposite Fortnum and Masons, the Queen’s grocer and purveyor of London’s best afternoon tea (in our opinion). Or go for a shop in the Burlington Arcade, a real local gem, that’s been recently restored and sold this week to billionaire New York investors the Reuben brothers for £300m. For a bite to eat, there are almost too many places to choose from as it’s the most Michelin-starred area in London. We’re a particular fan of its upmarket Indian restaurants, especially Gymkhana and Jamavar.

Area guide

House prices Source: Zoopla





Transport Source: TfL

Time to Canary Wharf: 15 mins

Time to Liverpool Street: 12 mins

Nearest train station: Bond Street

Best roads Source: Hamptons International

Most Expensive: Grosvenor Sq: £6,303,900

Best Value: Hertford St: £1,367,270