How to See the Real Side of London’s Most Sophisticated Neighborhood

Nick English, cofounder of British watch company Bremont, shares his favorite spots in Mayfair, London’s haven of sophistication.

How to See the Real Side of London’s Most Sophisticated Neighborhood

Photo by Harry Mitchell

“There are parts of central London where the hustle and bustle can get you down, but Mayfair is an exception. The main shopping thoroughfares nearby—Piccadilly, Oxford Street—carry big labels and feel very touristy, but the minute you enter Mayfair, you go from being totally rammed to blissfully relieved. It’s not really on the beaten track, not really a tourist destination.

For the most part, Mayfair hasn’t changed for centuries. It’s a place where locals work, and if you’re a wealthy Londoner, you hang out and shop and dine here as well. From the Bremont flagship store just off Mount Street, the U.S. embassy is round the corner, and some of the best hotels, including Claridge’s, the Dorchester, the Ritz, and the Connaught, are a short stroll away. You’ll also find unique retailers like Purdey, one of the oldest gun manufacturers in England; the famous suit tailors along Savile Row; and peaceful enclaves, including the gothic-style Farm Street Church. It’s all cemented together by members-only British clubs like Harry’s Bar and George—in fact, our boutique is happily sandwiched between the two. If you can’t find my brother, Giles, he’s always at George.

When Giles and I founded Bremont in 2002, one of our goals was to bring watch manufacturing back to the United Kingdom. You see a lot of Swiss watch companies but very few U.K. ones, even though there’s a legacy of watchmaking here. Rolex started in London in 1905, and of course the world sets its time by Greenwich. There’s a reason for that: We have produced some of the finest timepieces in the world. And Bremont is now part of that tradition. We were recently commissioned to make custom watches for this year’s Matthew Vaughn–directed comedy Kingsman: The Secret Service, about a British spy organization.

At our Mayfair boutique, we host monthly Adventurer’s Club evenings where we invite Bremont ambassadors to come speak, such as mountaineer Kenton Cool, who climbed Mount Everest 11 times, and polar explorer Ben Saunders, who followed in Captain Robert Scott’s footsteps to walk to the South Pole unsupported.

Being a homegrown company is key to who we are, and that’s why it was natural for us to choose Mayfair as the site of our first shop. It feels so classically British.”

>>Next: The Best Day Trips From London

Jennifer Flowers is an award-winning journalist and the senior deputy editor of AFAR.
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