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Live Well for Less at The May Fair London

The most satisfying words to hear from your loved ones are, “I am loving this trip.”  The totally unexpected reason for why I love The May Fair London is we can live well for less.

The May Fair is the flagship property of London for Club Carlson. The May Fair and Plaza on the River, a residential style hotel, are two London hotels that entered the newly created Category 7 rewards when they were introduced earlier this year at 70,000 points per night. That was a 40% reward rate increase from their former 50,000 points per night.

Mind the Gap and Find the Gap

Getting from Radisson Blu Edwardian to The May Fair on the Underground was a short two stops on the Piccadilly Line from Leicester Square to Green Park. The difficult part was navigating this trip at 6pm in peak travel time. Thousands of people rushing around us through the stations made it difficult to move with our luggage. We squeezed into a train car with three small carry on bags. When we exited the Green Park station outside, we could not walk across the sidewalk for more than a minute as the crowd hurriedly surged into the station entrance, preventing us from even taking a step as we waited for some kind of gap to squeeze through the suits going home from central London.

The May Fair is only a couple minutes walk from the Green Park Underground station. We entered The May Fair lobby and there were guests in front of us waiting to check-in. Kelley looked around at several smartly dressed women and commented, “I am ten years out of fashion.” As for me, well, I have never been in fashion.

There was a table of sweets at reception with candies, gum balls and chocolates beside the reception desk. Even more desirable to me were two glass water containers with fruit slices. We had been in the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery for hours without anything to drink.

Da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci – The Virgin of the Rocks 1508

London is a travel budget buster

Readers of Loyalty Traveler may know that I traveled two weeks around Norway in September and only spent $25 on food thanks to Choice Hotels Clarion Collection providing complimentary breakfast, afternoon pancakes and a light dinner buffet each night.

Only Club Carlson members holding Concierge membership receive complimentary breakfast at Radisson Blu hotels.

Our first night in London, Kelley said, “All I want to do is find a pub, order fish & chips and drink beer.” There are two pubs within crawling distance of the Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street at the Seven Dials roundabout.

The Crown
The Crown
Two Brewers
The Two Brewers, London


The Crown is directly across the street from the Radisson Blu Mercer Street hotel and The Two Brewers is about 50 meters from the hotel.

There were no tables open at The Crown. We found one table available at The Two Brewers. Three other open tables had ‘Reserved’ signs with ‘JAZZ 7PM’ printed on them. It was 7pm as we sat down at the table. Musical instruments were lying around. I asked Kelley if she really wanted to sit and eat dinner next to a jazz band?  She reiterated, “I told you, all I want to do is find a pub, order fish & chips and drink beer.”

Happy wife makes a happy life.

I ordered two pints with fish & chips and told the barkeep to open a tab as we would be hanging out in the pub for the evening.

One of the measures I use for travel budgeting is the cost of beer. In Norway the average cost of a beer was $15 in a bar or restaurant and about $5 per bottle in a store. I pledged to myself not to drink any beer for my two week solo trip in Norway.

In London, the cost of a beer in a pub is 4.00 to 5.50 GBP. That is about $6.50 to $9.00 per beer. The cost of a pub meal is 8 to 13 GBP or $13 to $21. A couple of pints each with pub food quickly adds up to a $70 tab.

Once the music started, we found ourselves in the midst of an Irish expats session with an acoustic guitar player and harmonica player leading a procession of songwriters and vocalists who performed one or two songs each. There were about 25 people in the pub and about ten of them performed at some point or other during three hours of music. The songs were mostly blues, not jazz, with a few rock tunes thrown in, like Sweet Home Alabama. Lynyrd Skynyrd was my first rock concert I attended as a young teenager in Frankfurt, Germany in 1974 when they opened for Queen. I chuckled hearing some different lyrics to the song from the lyrics I have known for 40 years.

Live Well for Less

The unexpected reason I am loving The May Fair London is the hotel is directly across the street from a Sainsbury market. Their market tagline is “Live Well for Less”.

  • British Museum – 500ml sparkling water £1.60 ($2.60)
  • Sainsbury – 2L sparkling water £0.20 ($0.33)

London Pub – Chicken Curry – £8.99 ($14.58)

Sainsbury – hot chicken masala £3.50 ($5.67)

  • London Pub – Two Pints Stella Artois – £8.80 ($14.26)
  • Sainsbury – Stella Artois 3 bottles 660 ml – £5.50 ($8.91)

Museums and pub crawl food and drink price = $31.44

Sainsbury market price is $14.91 with 4x more water and almost an extra pint of beer.

This is Kelley’s trip and if she wants to pub crawl around London, that is fine with me. Our days in the museums are free.

Our location at The May Fair London allows me to utilize the Sainsbury for some of our dining and drink needs and help get us back into a desirable travel budget where we can ‘live well for less’.

At check-in I received a coupon for one free drink at the The May Fair Bar. Kelley will get a pub upgrade today at The May Fair.


  • Kate November 26, 2014

    do you like it better than the Edwardian? Is it quieter?

  • Wemblegal November 26, 2014

    You should gave gone to a Wetherspoon’s pub

    Beer is much cheaper. In my local, a pint is around 2 pounds …

  • alastairdeacon November 26, 2014

    Something to consider is you also received 3 hours of musical entertainment included in your pub dinner and drinks. That greatly adds to the value you received!

    Love London, it’s one of my favorite cities and you’re staying at the two hotels we visited earlier this year. Both are comfortable and the locations are excellent for the tourist.

    Enjoy your trip, must be so pretty this time of year as Christmas decorations are up.

  • Ric Garrido November 26, 2014

    @Kate – On 7th floor of The May Fair and there is no street noise at all. There are second set of windows (winter windows?) so very quiet and the entire wall is windows so plenty of views. Very quiet.

    Which is the better hotel is relative. The May Fair is in the posh neighborhood. We look out to Lansdowne House which is a London private club.

    I had a conversation with a man coming out of the club yesterday when I had no idea what the place was and I had stopped to photograph a plaque outside stating Harry Selfridge had lived there.

    The May Fair is a close walk to Buckingham Palace and today we walked around Hyde Park and the Winter Wonderland Christmas fair and amusement park.

    The neighborhood around The May Fair is Bond Street with loads of designer stores like Chanel, Christian Dior, Hermes, and all the biggie brands. Not my scene. Proximity to parks is nice. Walking the residential streets showed us cars like Bentley, Rolls Royce, BMW, Range Rovers and Porsche.

    This is the area with InterContinental Park Lane, The Ritz London (1906), Sheraton Park Lane.

    I liked the Mercer Street area better as a hotel location in a fun neighborhood for pubs and food. I like The May Fair room better, but a lot of that is due to having a noisy room at Mercer Street on the 1st floor beside the road.

  • Ric Garrido November 26, 2014

    @alistairdeacon – No complaints about the Irish session night. Hearing Kelley say she was having a great time is all that mattered. We laughed thinking back to our 1989 honeymoon in London and Edinburgh and how we only found pub music playing American songs.

    There is no doubt it is Christmas season in London with all the street lights and window displays and the Winter Wonderland Fair in Hyde Park. Kelly has always been an anglophile and she is enjoying the places we see and the historical places we have learned about from our time together studying British history and literature over the past few decades.

  • Ric Garrido November 26, 2014

    @Wemblegal – Thanks for the tip. I looked up Wetherspoon. I’ll see if we can find one.

    We have been to six pubs around London and they have all been Nicholson’s pubs. We have not found another brand of pub in London. They seem to be the Starbucks of London pubs.

  • UAPhil November 26, 2014

    Ric – for two, taking a taxi the short distance between Seven Dials and Mayfair is not much more expensive than two Tube fares :-). (Actually, taxis in London are one of the few exceptions to “London is an expensive city”. They’re MUCH cheaper per mile than here in Silicon Valley.)

    The Mayfair is nice, but in my view it’s not worth the extra points. I’ve been very happy with the Leicester Square/Seven Dials Radissons (and my partner has been a very good sport as she trudges between hotels with her luggage to leverage the “second night free” benefit).

    I’ll qualify for Concierge this year; we’ll see how good the breakfast benefit actually is in 2015.

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