Temporary art exhibits are exciting not just for locals, but for tourists like me who happen to magically be in town at the right time. In February 2016, I was so excited to see Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse at the Royal Academy of Arts, examining how gardens and art intertwine from the 1860’s to the 1920’s. The Agapanthus Triptych by Monet in the final room of the exhibit has not been seen together since his son sold the paintings individually after Monet’s death; it was stunning. The other featured artists were also amazing: Renoir, Cezanne, Pissarro, Manet, Sargent, Kandinsky, Van Gogh, Matisse, Klimt and Klee.


(Photo of 2014 Christmas decorations)

Just across the road from the Royal Academy of Arts is Fortnum & Mason, its an English shop filled with delicious delicacies like fine teas and expertly crafted marzipan. Whether you plan to stop for afternoon tea (make a reservation) or just browse. It’s worth a quick stop.

Mayfair, a posh section of the City of Westminster well-known to Regency fans, isn’t limited just to the Royal Academy of Arts or the impressive Ritz and Claridge’s hotels (both incidentally known for excellent afternoon teas and dinners). You can also find a cocktail  (or a tipsy tea on the weekends) at Mr. Fogg’s Residence, an ode to Around the World in 80 Days. A stroll along Oxford Street or through Burlington Arcade (an enclosed sidewalk of shops connecting Bond and Oxford Streets) will give you a sense of how the other half lives. For those who love shopping, this area, including Regent Street, is a must-do. It is beautifully decorated at Christmas time and is often quite crowded.

Mayfair ends at Green Park, which is a lovely stroll and has activities throughout the year, and which leads to Buckingham Palace. If you are there in the evening, be sure to look for some of the last gas lights in London in the park.

If you miss a bit of America, you can find the Roosevelt Memorial in Grosvenor Square,  where the US Embassy was until 2018.

However, my favorite part of Mayfair is Berkeley (pronounce Bark-lee) Square. It’s a very small, unassuming park that became famous through Vera Lynn’s “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square,” a hit during World War II. If you find yourself in Mayfair, take a moment to see this park and listen to the song.