No room for cat-swinging
Looking for a chance to live in London's most exclusive area? Perhaps you can - if you don't mind compromising on space, says Christopher Middleton
Abedroom-cum-kitchencum-living room doesn’t offer the most spacious accommodation. The sofa is not just for sitting on; it folds out and becomes a bed, which takes up about a quarter of the 16 sq ft floorspace.
That’s the bad news. For the good news, just look out of the window. Cat-swinging might be out of the question, but no one can take away the fact that you are living in Mayfair. That’s to say, in London’s – and the Monopoly board’s – smartest area. Since 1976, research from Knight Frank shows, it has been the strongest residential market in the capital.
Nor is this some out-of-the-way bit of Mayfair, either, but top-ofthe-range Mount Street. Squeeze out onto the tiny balcony (we’re on the top floor here). If you peer over the edge, you look down on Scott’s Restaurant, scene of those infamous Nigella-Lawsonand-Charles-Saatchi photos.
Lean over a bit to the right, and you can glimpse the mighty, red-brick bulk of the Connaught Hotel, where rooms start at £450 a night and suites at £720.
That being the case, you are getting Mayfair on the cheap, since this flat costs only £89 a night. And although that mounts up (the rent is more than £2,500 per month), that gets you 30 nights in London W1 – but only three nights in a suite at the Connaught.
Living spaces are getting smaller all the time, especially in cities. The estate agent’s particulars describe this property as a “studio” flat, and despite its modest dimensions it does have a certain sort of disco-cum-cocktail-bar atmosphere.
Instead of going for a standard white-and-cream colour scheme, the owners have opted for black with a hint of gold.
“Personally, I think it’s been quite skilfully done,” says Jayne Weldon, who is representing Wetherell, the estate agents marketing this apartment (its offices are 50 yards down the road).
“The standard response to a small flat is to go for white wall, and fill the place up to make it look homely. Here, though, they’ve gone the other way, and I think it works well.”
You can’t accuse the designers of being half-hearted in their pursuit of the darker end of the colour palette. The washing machine, toaster, espresso maker, oven, oven hob, fridge, kettle, marble sink and surrounds are all black. As is the chest of drawers, china cabinet, bathroom tiles, washbasin exterior and most of the living room walls.
Oh, and don’t forget the soap, the Roberts radio, the Fortnum&Mason biscuit jars, and even the tubes of shampoo and moisturising cream in the showers. You can also count the framed picture over the black bookcases. This is a blown-up image of a penny black stamp – with the Queen’s profile created out of little mother-ofpearl white buttons, placed on a jet-black background. And then there’s the floor (alligator-skin dark brown), and the ceiling. The only things from the lighter end of the spectrum are the sofa (pale cream), the floor rug (flashes of kingfisher blue) and a set of bar stools covered in what looks like well-groomed buffalo skin.
As for the front hallway, you can’t tell what colour anything is. It’s so hard to find the light switch, leaving you flailing around in total gloom.
Until recently, we are told, the woman who owns the flat has used it as an occasional London pied à terre. Now, though, she is going to rent it out.
And the immediate question is – to whom?
“Oh, you would be surprised,” replies Jayne, pausing from her tape-measure-holding duties. “The great thing about Mayfair is that it is so central. You can walk to practically anywhere else in the middle of town in no time.
“Also it’s a pretty safe area; the streets are comparatively crimefree. As it happens, quite a few parents buy or rent places here for their children to live while they are students in London. If you’re going to have a small flat, then far better to find a place in this kind of neighbourhood.
“Look out of the window at the back, and you’ve got lovely views of the church and the library. Plus lots of attractive old roofs and chimneys – it’s all very Mary Poppins.”
It’s just a shame that there isn’t room to go fly a kite. Or even swing your pet moggy.
Dark and handsome: what the Mayfair studio lacks in size it more than makes up for in its black-themed decor