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Private clubs are booming in London and a recent wave of exciting new members’ establishments are bringing evolution to the scene

The Arts Club

An essential part of the great explosion of intellectual life in Victorian Britain was the London private club scene. At the heart of this was the much-revered Arts Club. Founded by a group of leading artists and intellectuals (including Charles Dickens) in 1863, it laid the foundations for the Royal Academy.

It moved to 40 Dover Street in 1893 and re-opened last year in its latest incarnation following an extensive refurbishment by new owners: property developer Gary Landesberg and renowned restaurateur Arjun Waney (Zuma, Roka and Oblix restaurant – which will open in the Shard in May).

Beautifully designed by David D’Almada (in collaboration with Arts Club member Gwyneth Paltrow) the aim has been to ‘embrace the history’ of this cultural landmark with a series of individually furnished rooms, including a well-stocked members’ library, brasserie and oyster bar and nightclub.

The state-of-the-art open kitchen and attractive dining rooms are overseen by chef director Raphael Duntoye (of La Petite Maison fame) and offer light, simple food that relies on the best seasonal ingredients for all day dining.

There is a lovely garden terrace, located just beyond the dining rooms – and a new Japanese restaurant is slated to open this summer.

As you’d expect from the Arts Club, contemporary art is shown throughout. Focusing on London-based artists and curated by Amelie von Wedel, the selected acquisitions and installation pieces showcase both emerging and established artists – and provide a suitable backdrop for the cosmopolitan clientele.

5 Hertford Street

The long-awaited opening of Robin Birley’s new members’ club finally arrived when 5 Hertford Street launched last summer. It occupies an entire 18th-century block of five buildings in Mayfair’s Shepherd’s Market. These have been transformed in a makeover that is rumored to have cost over £20m, under the leadership of former fashion designer Rifat Ozbek.

At the centre of 5 Hertford Street is an open courtyard, set within a series of reception rooms and a restaurant overseen by Alberico Penati (formerly of Harry’s Bar) dishing up English club food alongside French and Italian classics. The club also houses a superbly stocked cigar shop, several private dining rooms (on the second floor) and the basement club LouLou’s offering dinner and dancing.

Beautifully designed the aim has been to ‘embrace the history’ of this cultural landmark with a series of individually furnished rooms

Grace Belgravia

London now has a club exclusively for women. Occupying the first and mezzanine floors of a historic Grade II-listed building in Belgravia (the entrance is on West Halkin Street) – Grace is a unique and revolutionary health, wellbeing and lifestyle club. Men are permitted (by invitation only) to access the club on Thursday evenings.

Grace Belgravia has been designed by Richard Hywel Evans (renowned for masterminding the world’s first underwater spa) who has blended a combination of classical and contemporary design. Facilities include an Aqua Calda spa, hammam, gym (with Matt Roberts-managed trainers), studios, beauty salon and relaxation areas. There is also a bar, dining area, library and screening room.

Members of Grace will also have access to 11a West Halkin Street, Grace’s private medical clinic managed by medical director Dr Tim Evans (apothecary to HM The Queen) and an unrivalled team of pre-eminent consultants and leading therapists – offering a range of health treatments.


If you are looking for somewhere to work, London has several business clubs, including Dryland on High Street Kensington.

Dryland is unlike any other serviced office, with cutting-edge design, an excellent range of facilities and a decent choice of memberships and options. Dryland Business Residences is the first of a new generation of serviced office clubs in London, providing a purpose-built, all-inclusive working environment for members where everything has been well considered and even better appointed.

Modern and spacious, with an atmosphere more comparable to a private members’ club, Dryland facilities include an assortment of meeting rooms and lounges, a heated outside terrace, a screening room, secure telephone booths and shower facilities.

Dryland is fronted by a contemporary all-day café; where members are offered a discount on all orders and may request room and desk service. Members also have use of a chauffeur service and thence the club’s Maserati.

Members also have use of a chauffeur service and thence the club’s Maserati

Clubhouse London

Clubhouse London – a new premium business club, lounge and meeting space – recently opened in Mayfair. Its owners say it provides an ‘anti-office’ ethos and a flexible working and meeting space and it is designed specifically for anyone who works from home, lives outside London, or would benefit from an off-site private meeting space.

The Clubhouse offers a well-equipped meeting and workspace with complimentary high-speed and secure Wi-Fi, refreshments, Nespresso machines, mobile phone and laptop charging lockers and a range of private meeting rooms, hot-desks and presentation room.

Other planned member establishments scheduled to open shortly in the UK capital include a new private club in the recently opened Café Royal hotel and a members’ bar, by Andre Balazs, that is scheduled to make an appearance in Marylebone later this year.

Little House by Soho House Group

Soho House Group has transformed the international members-club scene, with the opening of Shoreditch House, Electric House and Soho House and this recent launch is a welcome addition. Little House is an intimate, boutique club in Mayfair and features an art collection curated by celebrity portrait painter Jonny Yeo and arts writer Francesca Gavin.

With a cozy, social atmosphere the club features a comfortable lounge and a brasserie with a menu that takes its inspiration from New York and Italy with a small, seasonal selection.

Words: Staff

This article was originally published in Halcyon magazine in 2013

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