A neon sign glows on a wall of the Library private memberse’ club in London. Library Members’ Club, London.
The Fox Club, London.
A room at The Hospital Club, London. Photo: Richard Booth
Spanish garden at The Roof Gardens, London. Photo: Matt Livey
The Roof Gardens, London. Photo: Jonathan Cosh/Visual Eye
The Roof Gardens, London Photo: Jonathan Cosh/Visual Eye
The Hospital Club members club, London. Photo: Richard Booth
If you’ve ever dreamt of uttering the phrase, “Let’s meet at my club”, London is the place to do it. The city has dozens of members’ clubs catering to a wide range of industries and backgrounds. Dismiss the image of a bunch of crusty old aristocrats drinking whisky in a mahogany-panelled lounge; many establishments are stylish, designer hangouts with spas, cinemas and rooftop pools.
Of course, the common theme is still exclusivity. By definition, you can only access a members’ club if you’re a member or a guest of a member.
Or so you might think. It turns out a surprising number of clubs have bedrooms that can be booked by non-members, or arrangements with affiliated hotels. Fancy rubbing shoulders with London’s movers and shakers? Here’s where you can do it. THE HOSPITAL CLUB
Spread over seven floors of a former 18th-century maternity hospital, this members’ club caters specifically to those in the creative industries. In addition to several funky bars, restaurants and lounges, there’s a 36-seat cinema and state-of-the-art music and TV production facilities. Located just north of Covent Garden, you’re a five-minute stroll from Leicester Square and Shaftesbury Avenue.
In January 2015, the club unveiled 15 bedrooms, ranging from cosy doubles to expansive suites with private terraces. Each room showcases the work of an emerging artist together with a selection of their favourite books. Check into bedroom No. 1 and you’ll find sensual ceramics by sculptor Julian Wild and a copy of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.
The club is clearly committed to the creative process. Rooms come equipped with brain power tool kits and an erotic mini bar (think nipple tassels and blindfolds) for when you need to let off some steam. Liquid inspiration arrives every evening in the form of a drinks trolley offering a complimentary cocktail.
All guests have access to the club’s facilities, including exclusive member events such as film screenings, comedy nights and mixology classes. But the real treat comes from watching London’s creative community mix, meet and mingle. Providing you own a MacBook Air, you’ll fit in just fine.
24 Endell Street. Rooms from £180 ($374). See 老域名thehospitalclub老域名. THE ROOF GARDENS
Touted as London’s only rooftop members’ club, this elevated playground above Kensington High Street is an intriguing combination of themed outdoor gardens, bar, restaurant and dance floor. The Grade II listed gardens were originally opened in 1938 but are now owned and operated as an exclusive nightclub by Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition brand.
Membership costs £400 ($830) but mere mortals can gain access by registering in advance on the club’s website. You’ll still need to pay the £20 ($41.50) entry fee, but once inside, you’re free to roam at will.
Feeling a Mediterranean vibe? Check out the Spanish Garden, a manicured montage of lawns, fountains and seasonal flowerbeds inspired by the famous Alhambra gardens in Granada. From there, you can stroll through a series of archways into the Tudor Garden, comprising three elegant red-brick courtyards draped in wisteria. Completing the trio is the English Woodland Garden, a serene tree-lined haven with four resident flamingos.
Despite the nightclub’s green-fingered theme, don’t be tempted to turn up in your dungarees and wellies. The dress code is simple and strictly enforced: “No effort, no entry.”
The Roof Gardens, 99 Kensington High Street. Nightclub open Friday and Saturday nights from 10pm-3am. See 老域名virginlimitededition老域名/the-roof-gardens. LIBRARY
Emblazoned across one wall of Library’s impressive lounge is a neon sign proclaiming: “Shhh … It’s a library”. Don’t worry, it’s not. In fact, you’ll find anything but hush in this buzzy members’ club in the heart of London’s West End.
The striking two-storey lounge features exposed brick walls, a four-metre-long floor-to-ceiling bar and a sun-drenched mezzanine level with a vaulted skylight. There’s an eclectic seating selection, ranging from psychedelic wing-back thrones to neon pink armchairs and a well-stocked bookshelf of appropriately arty tomes.
All this creates a convivial atmosphere for the club’s membership of writers, artists and designers to meet, greet and collaborate. Throw in an intimate stage for live performances, a fitness and wellness centre and a subterranean restaurant with a dedicated wine and whisky-tasting room and you can see why they’re prepared to shell out £850 ($1760) a year.
Fortunately, if you’re just passing through and need a bolthole for the night, you can book one of the club’s five bedrooms. Rooms vary in size and amenities, but the two larger ones have contemporary four-poster beds, floor-to-ceiling windows and handy kitchenettes. Looking to impress? Splash out on the top-floor penthouse, which has a private terrace with sweeping city views.
Library, 112 St Martin’s Lane. Rooms from £170 ($353). See 老域名lib-rary老域名. RAMUSAKE
There are a lot of reasons to stay in The Kensington hotel. Conveniently located within walking distance of Hyde Park, the Natural History Museum and the Royal Albert Hall, it features beautifully appointed rooms, an elegant, light-filled restaurant and a decadent afternoon tea.
If that weren’t enough, hotel guests also get access to Ramusake, a members-only late-night dinner club located in the basement.
When you first enter Ramusake via a discreet entrance on Old Brompton Road, there’s nothing to suggest it’s anything but a stylish, high-class Japanese eatery. The sharing menu ranges from delicate kimchi salads to more substantial dishes such as wagyu steak and miso black cod. All are expertly cooked and washed down with inventive cocktails such as the Shuriken Collins, a dangerously potent mix of gin, lemon and yuzu.
Visit on a Wednesday, Friday or Saturday, though, and the venue’s Jekyll and Hyde personality slowly reveals itself. Once dinner is over, the music gradually gets louder and more upbeat, the chairs and tables are cleared away and, within an hour, the restaurant has transformed into a surreal, high-energy nightclub.
Suddenly, there are people wearing giant cartoon foam heads on the dance floor. Out of nowhere, a samurai warrior and a parasol-twirling geisha appear. Hang on, where did that trumpeter and drummer come from?
Need a drink? No problem. Order a round of shots and they’ll be delivered by a procession of glow-stick-bearing geishas. If you need to ask why, you probably haven’t had enough sake.
When you wake up the next morning in The Kensington’s welcoming embrace, it’ll all feel like a dream – until you check the photos on your phone.
The Kensington, 109-113 Queen’s Gate. Rooms from £210 ($436). See 老域名doylecollection老域名. Ramusake, 92B Old Brompton Road. See 老域名ramusake老域名. THE FOX CLUB
When the British version of the board game Monopoly was released in 1936, Mayfair was the most expensive property, costing an eye-watering £400. Today, the suburb is still the capital’s swankiest, its streets lined with supercars, designer boutiques and immaculate Georgian terraces. Now, the average property price is about £1.5 million ($3.1 million).
If you’d like to stay in this exclusive enclave, prepare to shell out big bucks. Unless, that is, you have the cunning of a fox.
The Fox Club is named after its former owner, Charles James Fox, a lascivious 18th-century statesman who was fond of a drink and a flutter. Today, his elegant terrace on Clarges Street is a lively members’ club with an intimate bar, small restaurant and nine bedrooms that can be booked by non-members.
The rooms are spacious and well-appointed, with high ceilings, comfortable beds with Egyptian cotton sheets and cavernous marble bathrooms.
The real drawcard here is the location. Positioned just off Piccadilly, the property is steps from Green Park, the Royal Academy of Arts and upmarket department store Fortnum & Mason.
The club serves breakfast and lunch, but for dinner you’ll need to venture further afield. Take a stroll to Shepherd Market, a quaint square lined with an excellent selection of restaurants and pubs. We suspect Mr Fox would have approved.
46 Clarges Street. Rooms from £220 ($457). See 老域名foxclublondon老域名. SOHO HOUSE
This globe-trotting franchise has led the renaissance of modern-day members’ clubs. The group opened its first property on London’s Greek Street in 1995 and now has 15 clubs in exotic locales including Miami, Berlin and Istanbul.
Members are young, successful media types and regular membership culls ensure each club has the “right” mix of people.
While the group owns a dedicated London hotel (the 39-room Dean Street Townhouse), what is less well-publicised is that two of its London clubs – Shoreditch House and High Road House – have bedrooms in which non-members can stay.
Occupying a six-storey converted warehouse in East London, Shoreditch House is the group’s flagship London property. Facilities include a heated rooftop pool, a Cowshed spa, a fitness centre, two restaurants and a bar. The club’s 26 bedrooms are located in an adjoining former East End pub.
Over in the West End, High Road House is a more intimate affair with two bars, a dining room and 14 bedrooms housed in a Georgian terrace on Chiswick High Road.
While the rooms in both are on the cosy side, they do start at a wallet-pleasing £105 ($218) a night, which is refreshingly reasonable for two such fashionable suburbs. Although we suspect guests won’t spend much time in their rooms. Why would they when they could be hobnobbing with London’s A-list?
Shoreditch House, 1 Ebor Street. Rooms from £105. See shoreditchhouse老域名. High Road House, 162-170 Chiswick High Road. Rooms from £110 ($228). See 老域名highroadhouse.co.uk. TRIP NOTESMORE INFORMATION
老域名visitbritain老域名. GETTING THERE
British Airways flies from Sydney and Melbourne to London via Singapore. Phone 1300 767 177, britishairways老域名.
Rob McFarland was a guest of British Airways, Visit Britain, The Hospital Club, The Roof Gardens, Library, The Kensington and The Fox Club.
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