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Affordable LondonMay 7, 2009 By: Jena Tesse Fox Travel Agent
The lobby of The May Fair welcomes guests with understated English luxury.
Luxury and value have traditionally been at polar ends in London’s tourism scene, but the recent downturn in the economy (and the recent growth of the dollar against the pound) has turned the swinging city into a hot spot that offers affordable luxury.
One hotel that is reaching out to guests across the economic spectrum is The May Fair, which proudly sits astride numerous dividing lines, creating bridges for travelers of every taste and background. “Our diverse inventory is a huge selling point for The May Fair because it allows us to appeal to a very broad audience—couples, families, hipsters and traditionalists,” says Linda Plant, director of marketing for Radisson Edwardian Hotels, the company that owns and operates The May Fair. “Our location is also very attractive to a diverse audience. The Mayfair area itself attracts both the hip/trendy set and traditionalists, and this cannot be said so easily for the rest of London.”
Appealing to luxury travelers, The May Fair recently announced that it would host London Fashion Week for the next six seasons; it also hosts the Classical Brit Music Awards launch party and several A-List movie screenings in its private 201-seat theater. It is steps from the hottest restaurants, clubs, shops and galleries as well as the city’s shopping districts on Regent Street and Bond Street. Knightsbridge, Green Park, Buckingham Palace, the Royal Academy of Arts and the theater district are all nearby.
The May Fair is also looking to attract new guests by emphasizing what a value it can be. “There really has never been a better time to visit,” Plant says. “London is 30 percent cheaper thanks to the favorable exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the British pound. For the first time in 20 years, the dollar is gaining in value against the pound.”
The May Fair Amber Suite is just one option for guests looking for luxury in London.
To encourage new—and returning—visitors to The May Fair, the hotel has special value-added packages. Among them is the “Advance Purchase” promotion, available through August 31, offering 20 percent off the best available rate when booked and paid for in full at least 10 days in advance. (After August, the discount drops to 10 percent.) Room rates start at approximately $195, based on double occupancy. In addition to the rate savings, the hotel offers two-for-one dining at Amba Bar & Grill for lunch and dinner; 20 percent off at Hamleys Toy Shop on all Hamleys brand products; and £20 savings on every £100 spent at Liberty department store. Other packages are available at https://www.themayfairhotel.co.uk/offers.
The travel agent liaison at The May Fair is Declan Lott ([email protected]).
Tips for Travelers
Joanna Allen, media relations executive for VisitBritain, offers the following suggestions for your clients to get the most out of London without spending too much money.
Getting around: Don’t rent a car in London; use an Oyster Card on the Underground and buses—it’s almost half the price of individual cash tickets.
Sightseeing: The Great British Heritage Pass is the most comprehensive pass for entry to 580 attractions and has some of the best reductions if you intend to pack in the sights. It also allows guests to skip queues at busy locations such as Hampton Court or Warwick Castle. For more information, visit www.britishheritagepass.com.
Theater: The discount ticket booth in Leicester Square offers the best seats for the theater at half the normal price. On the day of the performance, theatergoers can check out the shows available and go to the booth itself for tickets. Visit www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk/tkts for more information. Standby tickets may also be available direct from the theaters’ box-office windows.
Even Second Bedrooms in the May Fair Penthouse are elegant and appealing.
Fine dining: Clients who want to eat well but not blow their budget should try a fixed-price lunch or pre-theater menu. Book in advance online at www.5pm.co.uk or www.toptable.co.uk. Other options include “gastropubs,” which offer gourmet British food in a pub setting.
Festivals for all: There are hundreds of festivals, local fairs and fetes throughout the year, with many free and low-cost events taking place at each. Ask locally at Tourist Information Centres for details, or visit www.artsfestivals.co.uk.
Shopping—UK Tax Refund: Visitors who live outside the European Community and leave within three months can claim back the VAT charged on most goods sold in the UK. Travelers need to fill in the VAT 407 refund form from the store and have it stamped by the VAT refund office at the airport or port.