The members’ club scene in London is changing. In 2019, business-led and modern options are the order of the day. Here, we talk you through the best new members’ clubs in London, as well as what to look out for when searching for the right club.
The C&TH Guide to London’s New Private Members’ Clubs
Old-style gentlemen’s clubs still exist. Smoky, whisky-soaked rooms – words like ‘establishment’ and ‘elite’ might be thrust upon them by people who don’t care for such things.
And there are more inclusive, but more traditional clubs around, too – The Library, for instance. It’s been around for a while but has offered a somewhat fresher take on where to hang out. And we all know about the Soho House group. If you want to climb London’s society ladder and listen to a panel discussion about Tinder then the Shoreditch outpost is the place to do it.
But this year marks another shift – clubs that are geared more towards business than the ‘scene’. Clubs have always been places to network and do deals, but not so much specifically designed for creating slideshows or holding company conferences. Soho Works is a telling sign of this, moving past the idea of a ‘club,’ instead blending that aesthetic with a working environment, almost like London’s Second Home space.
But don’t worry – alongside the boardrooms, there are still afternoon teas and cocktails to be had. And cigars. The shift is as gradual as you might surmise. And we’ve concentrated on that treacly pattern in our round-up here.
The best part of a membership at South Kensington Club is exclusive access to arguably one of the sleekest London spas. It seems that no matter how posh the spa, you are often left with some reminder of the clinical – an unappealing work surface or a mechanical looking spa bed. South Kensington Club hits a home run on this front with facilities that are as relaxing, warm and delightfully enveloping as the treatments. Speaking of which, private members can relish in the one-of-a-kind intensity of treatments in the Banya. Clients can expect their banschiks to guide them through hot and cold intervals of high temperature eucalyptus stimulations and ice water dunks, the combination of which have a cleansing effect. Another form of parenia begins with the application of a specialised lemon and grapefruit preparation to balance the skin and initiate a gentle cleansing effect. The strength of the heat and humidity combine to enhance a meditative state. Downtime in the Tea Library following intense treatments is the much needed chance for the the body to absorb the benefits of the treatments.
Albert’s Private Members’ Club recently re-opened on Beaufort Street in the heart of Chelsea, returning as a four-story townhouse – three times bigger than its previous venue. Albert’s distinctive atmosphere of quintessential English charm is now flooded with natural light and a relaxed sophistication that permeates the venue by day, to become electric as dusk falls. The redesign, led by Olivia Alexandra Interior Design, incorporates geometric patterns that play against warm prints and heavy velvets. Inviting brass tones lighten the rich, signature Albert’s design details of vibrant wallpapers and sumptuous flourishes. Members can can spread their time across the venue’s multiple areas, which include a Club Room with an all-day restaurant and bar, Private Dining Room perfect for hosting events and meetings, and finally the Penthouse Champagne Bar: the ideal spot for drinks late into the night.
Spotting a gap in the market for an uber-private club with a focus on health and wellbeing, Mark Chambers has used his decades of knowledge of the hospitality industry to launch 3 St James’s Square to help ‘bring balance to busy lifestyles’. The address already is an indication of how exclusive a private members’ club it is, but what’s most exciting is the investment in cutting-edge science to give members a truly bespoke experience. Once a member joins 3 St James’, they undergo a state-of-the-art DNA test paired with a 3D body scan (Chambers has secured the only machine in the world for the basement) so as to create a fully personalised health assessment which will then inform the personal trainers to the kind of fitness that will have the best results (down to vitamin and mineral requirements, and recovery rate).
This all combined with only the best customer service, which sees your gym kit pressed and ready for your arrival, a luxurious spa and a Somadome meditation pod, means 3 St James’ isn’t all work and no play. Every detail has been thought of to create a seamless experience – down to the Dyson Airblade hairdryers in the changing rooms, and the heated loungers to ease post-workout muscles. With a vast and bright gym space, personal trainers on hand 24/7 and a golf training facility, the whole experience is so pleasant that it can keep even the biggest gym-phobe there for hours. Warning: extreme discipline must be exercised to keep oneself from spending all day in the Alpine sauna. £2,000 joining fee + £6,000 annual membership fee
Undoubtedly the mecca of all meccas for wine lovers, 67 Pall Mall is a formidable three-story establishment with views looking on to St James’ Palace. Last year the club opened an entirely new floor and began accepting new full members for the first time since membership closed in 2015. The members’ lounge is found in Hambros’ former banking hall, where members can scroll through an unrivalled wine list on the in-house iPads, which are also loaded with critic’s scores and winemakers’ notes. Sensitively designed by Simone McEwan, the club’s Wine Library displays thousands of bottles from their collection, enticing every oenophile to peruse and select wines to their heart’s content. Besides this, 67 Pall Mall’s extensive wine cellar also offers a Member’s Reserve facility, allowing members to store some of their own personal wine collection in the club cellars. £1,500 per annum (+£1,500 joining fee).
It’s hard to beat Mortimer House on location. Housed within a large Art Deco building in Fitzrovia, central London’s latest private members’ club is right in the middle of the action – just a few steps from Oxford and Regent Street, Marylebone and Goodge Street. Pair this with swanky open-plan workspaces and offices, and you’ve got the ideal spot for London’s freelance creatives to call home. The six-floor members’ club also comprises a 24-hour state-of-the-art gym, a casual ‘Living Room’ with central bar, library and cosy fireplaces, and even a meditation room on the top floor – all of which provide a much-needed opportunity to wind down and relax, essential for mental wellbeing in a modern co-working space. The buzzy atmosphere, Brooklyn loft-style interiors and light-flooded rooms create a haven away from the crowds of central London which you’ll struggle to leave – especially with the innumerable benefits of being a member that make the space more comfortable than home. Social membership £100, complete memberships from £400
Ministry of Sound opened their first private member’s club last year, providing a new space for the city’s creative community to socialise and work. Following the new trend for collaborative workspaces, a curated community from music, media, culture and tech industries are invited to join The Ministry‘s private club and take advantage of amenities including a cinema, event space, immersive technology studio, sound-proof production suites, a restaurant and seventy-foot bar, all just a stone’s throw from the iconic nightclub. A new venture that’s strictly ‘by creatives, for creatives’, this might well be the new Soho House. Though membership is invite-only, you can register your interest here.
Back in 2017 London saw another glittering new opening: The Ned, a hybrid offering with eight restaurants, a hotel and private members club, all set in a historic 3,00 square metre former banking hall. The Ned also includes six Grade I listed meeting rooms and two outdoor terraces available for hire (see the many Instagrams from the opening night…). So whether you are in need of a decent night’s sleep, a party venue, or a great meal, The Ned is the City’s best new club. 27, Poultry, EC2R 8AJ.
Launched in Shoreditch in May 2017, The Curtain is the newest venture from New York hotelier Michael Achenbaum. Alongside the new restaurant and hotel, the members’ club is a place to network, play, learn and explore in London’s most happening area. It’s open from 7am to 2am daily allowing for the best of day and night hospitality and entertainment, with live music at its heart – including secret gigs, DJs and acoustic performances, as well as various other exclusive events and talks.
There are also quieter lounge spots to enjoy a nightcap or four, a co-working space which opened in late 2017 and a Screening Room which will hold private screenings, previews and presentations. This is a modern members’ club firmly at the forefront of the new wave, claiming; ‘We’re not about wealth and status. We don’t care who your parents are. We want members that have something in common: namely, a creative soul’.
The latest old-school members’ club to have a makeover after more than 50 years of Soho nightlife, Annabel’s reopened earlier this year two doors down at 46 Berkeley Square. Where Annabel’s once came to life after dark, now it is offering a near 24/7 service (7am to 4am) with restaurants, bars, a garden terrace, private dining rooms, a spa and a cigar room. A number of niche touches have been added to the mix, from a dog walker billed as ‘the world’s finest’ to look after members’ pets to an ice-carver whose job is to carve out different-shaped ice cubes for cocktails. But despite its 21st-century evolution, there are some ways in which Annabel’s will remain old school – telephones and laptops are barred from all but one floor.
The London-based designer tasked with the venue’s aesthetic revival, Martin Brudnizki, describes the new design as ‘eccentric, English, maximalist and surrealist…like falling down the rabbit hole.’ Each room has its own distinctive theme, but all draw on the idea of the garden, an interior highlight being the bespoke chandelier installation festooned with unicorns, monkeys which swoops through several floors. And with its pink-silk flowered ceiling, hand-embroidered pink silk labels on the walls and gold swan taps, the ladies powder room threatens to steal Sketch’s title of boasting London’s most Instagram-worthy bathroom.
Bon viveur Brian Clivaz has launched the Devonshire Club. It comprises a club lounge, bars, 120-cover brasserie, private dining rooms, library with screening room, and hotel with 68 bedrooms – with an adjacent 18th Century townhouse home to the club spa and gym. It’s in a Grade II listed property in the heart of the City of London, the financial hub which is transforming a little. The newest outpost of Soho House – in the former Midland Bank building – is also nearby.
‘The Devonshire Club will be the focal point where those with Mayfair style and glamour meet East End chic,’ says Clivaz, who adds that it ‘offers a sophisticated atmosphere in which to conduct business, relax and entertain.’ Lord Ashcroft is a major investor. No doubt he’ll be staying clear of Mark’s. Annual membership is priced at £2,400 per annum, with an additional joining fee of £2,400.
Fine, Mark’s Club isn’t exactly new. It was originally opened in 1972 by Mark Birley. But it was purchased by Richard Caring (along with Annabel’s and Harry’s Bar) seven years ago and today, the club is set for a shake up, as Caring teams up with Peter Dubens (founder of London-based Oakley Capital) and financier Charles Price (son of the former US ambassador), with big plans for reinvention. Together they’ve backed chef Tom Aikens to great effect in the past.
Mark’s Club is big time exclusive – but still deemed in the ‘new’ pack. We’re not sure whether the fact David Cameron is a member supports this, or completely diminishes it. An annual subscription to Mark’s Club is £2,000 and there is an entrance fee for the first year of £1,000.
This iconic London building and its neo-classical interiors has been meticulously restored by a team of experts commissioned by developers/hoteliers the Reignwood Group (also the new owners of Wentworth Golf Club). Now this 1920s heritage property houses a Four Seasons Hotel – with 98 guest rooms and suites – many with views of the Thames. What’s more, there’s 41 private residences, a private members’ club, two gourmet restaurants, and a spa. The club includes meeting rooms, a cigar lounge, bar, art gallery and business centre. It’s close to the City, and also wants to ‘reinvent’ the scene, or at least reignite it. It’s certainly part of the park, but definitely more old-school than many: the Château Latour Room, for example, comes in partnership with the well-known Médoc winemaker. These connections aren’t forged on a Macbook in a pair of Stan Smiths. Ten Trinity Square Club opened in late 2017. Accepting membership applications.
Back in the 60s, the likes of The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones frequented Bag O’Nails, a legendary music venue located on Kingly Street in the heart of Soho. Now the iconic spot is being transformed into a trendy new private members’ club: The Court, launching this month. Lined up is a hot new restaurant with a menu developed by Michelin starred chef Tom Sellers, a chic Gatsby-style basement bar with an extensive cocktail menu and décor by the internationally renowned artist Bradley Theodore and celebrity florist Nikki Tibbles. The club also intends to keep the venue’s rich musical history alive with a piano stage and nightly live entertainment. Annual membership starts from £600 per year and interest can be registered via their website thecourt.co.uk
Set to launch in the heart of Marylebone this April, Home Grown is a new members’ club targeted at entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders across all sectors. The idea is to create a space for networking within the confines of a luxury setting – members can attend business talks from top entrepreneurs, leadership seminars, pitching events and dinners designed for business makers who want to meet investors. But its not all about the business: the world of wellness will feature heavily, with activities such as sound meditation and yoga brunches due to feature. Stretching across four Grade II-listed five storey Georgian townhouses on Great Cumberland Place, Home Grown will have business lounges, bars, 35 boutique bedrooms, a brasserie-style restaurant, meeting rooms, pitching suits and hi-tech event spaces. Among the members so far are founders of big brands including Not on the High Street, Planet Organic and Pleesecakes, along with ambassadors like Jenny Tooth OBE and Camilla Dolan. Membership from £1000 p/a. Joining fee is £299 but this is waived for founders (members who join before the official opening). Visit homegrown.co.uk for more information.
‘There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women,’ said former USA Secretary of State, Madeline Albright. A powerful quote – and the inspiration behind the UK’s first women’s only members’ club, AllBright, founded by entrepreneur Debbie Wosskow and CEO of Hearst Anna Jones. Among its clientele are Naomie Harri and Olivia Wilde, as well as House of Lords peer, Martha Lane-Fox, EMEA Facebook VP, Nicola Mendelsohn, film-maker Gurinder Chadha and fitness guru Grace Belgravia. The first club opened last year on International Women’s Day in Fitzrovia’s Rathbone Place, with a second due to open in the heart of Mayfair this May. Here, women are inited to join together to meet like-minded women, to connect, network and collaborate.
Housed in a a five-storey Georgian townhouse just off London’s Oxford Street, the original club has places to hold meetings and work stations, but also a yoga studio and a blow-dry bar. Their second venue will have a similar vibe, with a co-working space, two large roof terraces and a wellness floor, set to include a fitness studio, three holistic wellness rooms and a hair and beauty salon. On the fourth floor members can enjoy a drink or two in the glamorous lounge, which will be serving up bespoke cocktails alongside vibrant dishes designed by Executive Chef Sabrina Gidda. Full membership is priced at £600 per year, and £540 per year for under 27s, with a £250 joining fee. allbrightcollective.com
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