It’s been many years now since I dreamed of trotting off Oliver Twist-style with a pack on my bag to seek my fortune in the big city of London.
I was actually born there and brought up a ‘southerner’ so I absolutely love the city and fully expected to return in my career.
But instead I have become a naturalised northerner, heart invested in the fabulous cities and countryside where it is easier to achieve a quality of life, even if the pay-off is lower wages and less access to national media jobs, many of which are London-based.
So now I am a regular visitor to the big smoke.
We are very lucky here in Lancashire to be able to zip straight down on train in around two hours straight from Preston, Lancaster or Blackpool (less than some Londoner’s commutes).
I love my trips to the city even if I am slightly smug to return to my small house which would cost seven times as much down there.
I’m there about once a month and I’m lucky enough to to have stayed in some absolutely fabulous swanky and markedly less swanky hotels as a journalist and a tourist – I always have plenty of friends to catch up with.
Much as I love a hotel, you never quite settled, so I jumped at the chance to stay in a more ‘home from home’ environment at the 44 Curzon Street Serviced Apartments by Mansley, right in the exclusive heart of Mayfair.
Bang next to the lovely enclave of Shepherd’s Market, which is home to lots of lovely small restaurants, publishing houses, discreet residences and high-end antique book stores, it’s close to Piccadilly but removed from the congestion and chaos.
Yet it’s and a hop and a skip from Green Park underground station so you couldn’t be more central if you tried.
My bank account has a spasm at the thought of owning property in this area which has been a fashionable address since the small square was developed in 1735-46 by Edward Shepherd.
Few can afford this location.
So the quintessentially London Victorian pubs that evoke Shepherd’s Market with their traditional signage ‘Ye Grapes, The Market Tavern’ and evocative greenery and flowers spilling from hanging baskets are frequented from 4pm onwards by a mixture of city workers and tourists who later return home to their London boroughs and more affordable city crash pads.
Many still sporting their office finest, they stand with relief outside with a welcome pint when the weather allows – the atmosphere simply buzzes and the conversation as varied as the customers.
London is simply alive.
The 44 Curzon Street serviced apartments are conveniently just steps from the pubs and restaurants so unlike the workers – if you stay here – you won’t have far to stagger home and no tube required.
Regent Street, shops and theatres are all close by – Buckingham Palace is roughly a nine-minute walk away so you can claim the Queen as a neighbour.
If you want a big green space both Hyde Park and Green Park are around seven minutes by foot.Just under quarter of an hour will get you to Oxford Street.
Your best bet is to simply walk around, exploring the city or jumping on the tube to further afield.
The apartments themselves are up a few wide white marble steps behind the faded grandeur of the big front door in a traditional London Victorian terrace.
We were staying on the ground floor, meaning we didn’t get to try the museum-fodder black metal Victoria lift that groaned up to the higher floors from the tiny lobby, which is manned by just one staff member in daytime hours.
Our fears about noise were largely unfounded although our front window looked over Curzon Street itself- the only noisy thing was the lift itself and with just a few apartments, it wasn’t really an issue.
Our home for the weekend was a narrow slice of London living with sitting room to front, tiny corridor kitchen which also boasted the front door, a well-sized double bedroom with fitted wardrobes and plenty or room for luggage.
The bedroom window looks at an unprepossessing bit of lower floor roof and pipes.
Mary Poppins and her mate Bert the sweep would be quite at home here with its chim-chimneys.
The bathroom with a double his and hers sink, bath and shower is great.
The decor is classic high end British-neutral with chintzy touches – everything was clearly expensive once but it has a worn-in feeling that somehow makes it more homely if teetering on the edge of requiring updating.
I wasn’t sure if it was so posh it was super low-key or simply in need of refurbishment.
But the place was immaculate. every inch cleaned and scrubbed making it very easy to settle in and sink into luxury London living.
The small kitchen with its microwave/ oven combo, kettle and coffee machine provided all you would need for the weekend.
We barely touched it – you don’t need to with an array of quirky eateries on your doorstep you don’t need to.
We breakfasted twice in Shepherd Market, selecting the excellent Caffe In at Shepherd Street for our much needed injection of caffeine, fry ups and avocado fare – try the delicious smoothie’s they are freshly made and fantastic.
The eclectic and adorable The Little Square made a fabulous dinner venue.
The tiniest little restaurant serves fresh bistro-style dishes, it’s wooden framed windows evoking centuries of London life.
I imagine it’s beautiful at Christmas.
Book though, it really is small inside, though big on flavour and personality with agile staff keen to make you feel at home.
The Queen would love it.
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This was a press stay courtesy of 44 Curzon Street apartments. Restaurants mentioned are not gifted.