If you are passionate about travel and love to discover unique secrets about beautiful cities, or if you enjoy being immersed in local cultures and traditions, then you definitely have something in common with the Travel Curious community. Travel Curious curates exclusive and exciting tours, matching some of the best local guides with curious minds, to make travel experiences and journeys more authentic and special.
Discover Mayfair like you have never seen it; walk in the shoes of some of the most famous authors such as Oscar Wilde, Austen, Waugh, Thackeray and Wilde, and travel back to the most scandalous times in London!
Exploring places through a different angle thanks to literary anecdotes and facts about famous writers is the passion of James Kingston, who designed this very special tour. We caught up with him to ask him a few questions…
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and about Travel Curious
First and foremost, my background is as a historian. Additionally, I have always been very interested in literature and entertaining historical facts. These two personal interests combined with all the travelling I have done and the two years I lived abroad, made me realise how much I would enjoy doing tours.
I mostly take people around London, and with this tour I wanted to weave an interesting narrative into Mayfair.
Travel Curious is the perfect fit, as it provides private tours and unique experiences to travellers who yearn to experience local areas in a different way.
2. What is your personal favourite anecdote about Mayfair?
There are so many actually… But I guess I am fond of all the connections to Oscar Wilde, his rise and fall which took place just around here. I also like Beau Brummel’s story. He was such a flamboyant character! His reputation and subsequent social collapse are the perfect illustration of the importance of status and how fragile it could be at the time. Did you know actually that, during a masquerade ball in in July 1813, he insulted the Prince Regent whom he was friends with. That was just the beginning of his downfall.
3. Who is your favourite writer who lived in London?
As you might have understood by now, Oscar Wilde surely is one of my favourite writers, but I am also very fond of the works by Anthony Burgess.
4. This tour is focused around literature and writers of Mayfair, do you have literary recommendations? A must read when you are staying in a comfy hotel room for example?
I would absolutely recommend Earthly Powers by Burgess and of course, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, two classics you would surely enjoy in your hotel bed or sofa with a cup of coffee! The Picture of Dorian Gray actually makes me think about Manetta’s cocktail A Portrait Of a Young Man - a combination of both would be perfect for a nice evening indoors.
5. Which part of London would you recommend to someone visiting the city for the first time?
I would recommend having a walk around Trafalgar Square and the Houses of Parliament. If you are around Westminster or Mayfair, of course, do stop by Green Park and Buckingham Palace. You can also take a boat down the river and visit the Tower of London.
6. And finally, what is the most surprising thing a guest can expect in London?
There are a lot… But what I think drives most people to London is that it perfectly marries tradition with innovation. In fact, not many people know that London was the world's first modern metropolis and since then has always been at the centre of change. It also attracts people from all horizons and cultures.
We hope that this talk made you curious enough to want to travel back in time with us during this very special tour. Do keep an eye on the Flemings blog, as we will regularly interview the people, we collaborate with to help you discover new opportunities and experiences!