The Duke of Westminster, of course, has a vested interest in maintaining Mount Street’s rarefied village air, since the land it occupies has been in his family for generations. It was originally part of a parcel that has belonged to the Grosvenor family since 1677, when 21-year-old Sir Thomas Grosvenor married the 12-year-old heiress Mary Davies. Part of Davies’s dowry included 500 acres of farmland, then on the outskirts of London. It lay undeveloped until the early 1700s, when the Grosvenors began to build their estate around Grosvenor Square. Now the family’s former farmhouse, Bourdon House, which lies at the end of Mount Street, is set to open next year as Dunhill’s flagship, offering a store, private club, museum and apartments. “What price to pay to stay in an apartment which was [once] the bedroom of the Duke, complete with the original features and bells to the servants’ quarters?” says Wilson.
One of the most notable longtime residents is subtly updating its look too. The 108-year-old Connaught hotel, which earlier this year was the site of an after-party for the Marc by Marc Jacobs show, closed in March to undergo a facelift before reopening in December. The hotel group’s chief executive, Stephen Alden, however, was keen to ensure that the Connaught didn’t cast off its traditions. So he gave his most loyal guests a sneak peek at a model of the new bedrooms, complete with dark woods and refurbished antiques, before proceeding with the renovations. “It’s very much our guests’ sanctuary,” Alden explains. But he approves of the changes brewing in what he calls the hotel’s “magical setting.” “It’s exciting,” he says. “With the opening of Marc Jacobs, the street is evolving in the right direction.” After all, a neighborhood that turned from farmland to fine art without any major ado is likely to take its new role as a fashion destination in stride.updat5