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The Mayfair Hotel in Adelaide was once the Colonial Mutual Life Building, a grand neo-Romanesque edifice located in the heart of town on King William Street. Fearsome gargoyles glare down at us, providing a rather unusual welcoming committee, as we venture inside where the receptionist’s friendly greeting is much warmer than the one we received from the historic stone statues outside. Even though the Mayfair Hotel is still relatively new, it has already developed a reputation as the place to come to see and be seen, especially during our festive season visit.

Mayfair Hotel bar
Inside the Hennessy Bar
Hennessy Bar at the Mayfair Hotel
Outdoor terrace at the Hennessy Bar

A steady stream of smartly dressed locals and visitors sashay through the hotel doors on their way to the lift which will take them upstairs to the chic rooftop Hennessy Bar. Our attempt to find a seat at this popular spot is unsuccessful. However, this leads us down a sweeping staircase near reception to the charming Mayflower Bar. A maestro seated at a grand piano provides the entertainment and the bartenders know their wines, providing excellent recommendations for a couple of out-of-towners like us who are first time visitors to South Australia.

Mayflower Bar at the Mayfair Hotel
Large banquette at the Mayflower Bar
Mayflower Bar grand piano
Grand piano at the Mayflower Bar

It is a refined atmosphere which harks back to a different time yet still manages to feel contemporary. Mayflower Bar is our new favourite and we wonder aloud if there is a similar venue available in our hometown of Brisbane. Upstairs our plush accommodation for the night awaits, accented in tones of caramel and grey, with a comfortable king size bed and large bathroom stocked with Appelles Apothecary products. The room is impressively large with a decent work desk that would no doubt be appreciated by corporate travellers. Rooms have been designed to fit inside the historic building which means each one has its own unique floor plan.

Deluxe King Room at the Mayfair Hotel
Deluxe King Room
Bathroom at the Mayfair Hotel
Deluxe King Room bathroom

Breakfast at the Mayfair Hotel in Adelaide is a highlight, featuring a honey trolley with individual pots of different flavours including honey from the hotel’s own rooftop apiary. Boutique producers play a starring role, with everything from fresh fruit to Moo yoghurt and Barossa bacon on offer, all looking almost too pretty to eat. Espresso coffee is not included but it is worth the extra spend.

Breakfast at Mayfair Hotel in Adelaide
Honey trolley at the Mayfair Hotel
Local yoghurt at the Mayfair Hotel
Mayfair Hotel breakfast buffet
Breakfast at the Mayfair Hotel is almost too pretty to eat

On our second night we return to the Mayflower Bar for a drink and spy a spectacular dessert trolley being wheeled into the adjacent Mayflower Restaurant. We make a beeline for the maître d’hôtel in the hope of getting a table but, alas, the restaurant is already fully booked for dinner. If you enjoy an elegant yet relaxed hotel experience with food that is second to none, the Mayfair Hotel is an excellent choice, whether you are a local seeking a classy weekend getaway or visiting from out-of-town. Just remember to pre-book a table for dinner or, like us, you could end up watching fabulous dishes emerging from the kitchen and crying into your glass of perfectly chilled pinot gris.

Mayflower Restaurant
Mayflower Restaurant dessert trolley

Disclosure: The writer stayed as a guest of the Mayfair Hotel and the South Australian Tourism Commission.

If you’re looking for something a little different to do in Adelaide, we enjoyed the 4WD winery tour we did around McLaren Vale.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.