1 Hotel Mayfair review: A masterclass in marrying luxury and sustainability in the capital

High-brow neighbours include The Ritz, Brown’s and Dukes, but 1 Hotel Mayfair is determined to shake up Mayfair and Piccadilly with its own brand of Nature-inspired, California cool, says Emma Hiley. 

This is the old Holiday Inn, but you’d never recognise it now. The reconditioned building has had a full throttle, eco-conscious makeover thanks to US brand 1 Hotels. The outside, now crisp-edged and contemporary, is softened by an enormous living wall.

Managed and watered with moisture sensors, this oxygen-producing, greenhouse-gas absorbing feature is a great example of the nature-cum-tech partnership that the hotel channels inside too. Natural materials rule the roost with gargantuan slabs of Yorkshire stone and raw wood used to great effect in the lobby, including a reception desk carved from an ancient Sussex oak (above, that was felled in a storm) and more than 1,300 plants (with their own, attentive watering team on standby seven day a week).

Staff are plentiful, cheerful and dressed in earthy shades of taupe and beige.

Sheepskin throws cover rattan stools and boucle chairs — and the ground floor buzzes with local residents and office workers popping in for oat milk lattes brewed from ethically-sourced coffee beans.

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This is Mayfair, but it’s been funked up.

The rooms

A studio suite at 1 Hotel Mayfair

Every bedroom and suite is a temple to texture and layers and calming colours.

While the smallest might be pretty small, they still manage to feel spacious enough thanks to considerate design and a thrilling lack of clutter. Single waste plastic has no place here. Wine bottles, reimagined, emerge as water carafes, the mattresses are organic, solar energy powers the bedside lights, the hangers in the wardrobe are made from recycled card and there are tote bags for you to use for the duration of your stay fashioned from old fire hoses.

But none of this is at the cost of the design or aesthetic.

The Welsh-slate bathrooms come replete with Bamford products and reusable bottles can be topped up from the in-room filtered water dispenser. A huge drinks cabinet and minibar runs the gamut from kombucha and ginger shots, to Daylesford Organic sea salt dark chocolate, via Sapling vodka and ready mixed yuzu margaritas.

Every room on the 7th floor comes with its own terrace or balcony, which is a huge luxury.

And even if you don’t have any outside space, there are skyline views from most windows — the BT tower to the east and the treetops of Green Park to the west.

Eating and drinking

Dovetale restaurant — on the ground floor — is busy from breakfast onwards. The room scoops you up and onwards into a mixture of semi-circular banquettes and more intimate tables for two. And the outdoor courtyard terrace is the place to book in the summer.

Michelin-starred chef Tom Sellers leads a kitchen committed to cooking with organic seasonal produce. There’s a raw bar (which is quite fun to sit at) showcasing British shellfish — Carlingford oysters and Orkney scallops getting top billing — and knickerbocker glory pudding trolley.

In the Dover Yard bar, a DJ plays three nights a week and cocktails are served on a rather beautiful countertop made from racing pigeon feathers — some still with a visible wing stamp mark.

On Thursdays, the hotel’s management team holds a drinks party for guests — which is surprisingly popular.

How they’ll keep you busy

A blackboard of chalked-up activities details what’s going on that week — it could be an art tour with Simon de Pury’s daughter Loyse, a guided meditation and sound bath session, or a neighbourhood dog walk (the hotel is fully pet-friendly).

The Bamford spa has a crack team of therapists pinched from the best hotels in town. And next to that is a well-kitted out gym.

What else to do while you’re there

Staying guests are allowed to use a pair of electric cars. They’re on a first come first served basis and can go anywhere within a two-mile radius — so there’s no excuse for not getting out and exploring London, even if it’s raining.

Who is it for?

This is a place for everyone, for suits as well as for small children, for culture vultures as much as solo travellers.

What gives it the ‘wow’ factor?

It has to be the sustainability credentials. There are the small things — it’s majority paper free (and if you do receive a welcome note in your room, it’s packed with wildflower seeds to be planted, rather than thrown in the bin). And then there are the big things — the staggering aiming not to waste 90% of goings on in the kitchens, the community partnerships and the carbon offsetting.

The visible commitment to doing the right thing, while also creating such an elevated, luxurious environment, is impressive.

The one thing we’d change

It would be easy to start picking holes in the viability of a large hotel purporting to be a ‘sustainable sanctuary’.  But that would be to go against all the good intentions of the place and all the small steps that will add up to make a big difference in the long run.

Rooms at 1 Hotel Mayfair from £500 a night — call 020-3988 0055 or visit www.1hotels.com/mayfair to book