Top 5 Member’s Clubs in London
With the surge of new businesses, small companies, entrepreneurs and start-ups, member’s clubs in London are reaping the rewards of flexible working. Many modern companies are shunning the expense of high-end offices in central London in favour of paying relatively small membership fees at clubs, enabling them to work in a paperless, flexible way. The danger of course, is the unlimited access to booze and food – a minor distraction in an otherwise flawless business model.
Our sister company, BOWER Virtual, holds a BLACK BOOK of places, ideas and things to do in London for our clients and having spent copious amounts of time fannying about in various clubs, here is the Top 5 run down of our favourites…
Soooo very MI6 meets 1920s social scene. Set in a gorgeous townhouse on Berkeley Square, the location couldn’t be better. Get to know the charming staff and you’ll have your own tailor-made cocktails before you know it. ‘The BOWER’ was the ruin of many a brainstorming session in the good old days. It tasted like Windolene, but it was so cool that we drank it anyway.
Their restaurant is genuinely divine and breakfast on their balcony in the spring is literally a bucket list event. They boast a very small, very stuffy club in the basement which can get pretty ‘kicking’ some nights. But the main draw is their bar, which is full of interesting Mayfair types looking for somewhere to privately chat about business over excellent cocktails (hold the Windolene). Their dress code is pretty strict and they have no qualms about turning you out on the street if you break it, so buck up and get your best fur trimmed knickers/hat/shawl/cloak on – and maybe take your cane if you have one.
Ideal for: Lording it over the plebs passing by Berkeley Square.
How do I get in? Get a member referral and then don your best garb and trot along for a friendly chat.
Best bits: Breakfast on the balcony & tailor made cocktails.
Worst bits: It’s quite small and not great for day-to-day business working. Much more of a social den.
From its central location on Dover Street, the beautiful Arts Club radiates glamour and importance. You are greeted by the friendly doormen who check that you’re dressed appropriately (but also in a way that makes you feel like they know full well your trousers were from H&M and that you have toilet paper stuck to your shoe*). However, once you’ve been screened, sniffed and vetted, you are wowed by the tasteful décor and the bright, open space. By night, the clientele are gorgeous and intriguing creatures, but in the cold light of day can sometimes look like they’re held together with bulldog clips and optimism. Regardless, the place is cracking for business meetings and lunches. They have particularly good sushi at their restaurant Kyubi – although it doesn’t fill you up much and means you need to get a McDonald’s from Victoria train station on the way home and quickly eat it by the bins **.
In the evening when the DJ turns up the music the atmosphere changes and work is forgotten. The sea of long, slender legs and the sound of cocktails being made soon makes you relax. Whether you’re people watching, looking for somewhere good to eat or want to join the glitz and glamour and dance the night away, the Arts Club rarely fails to deliver some form of pleasure.
Ideal for: People watching and being ‘spotted’, if you like that sort of thing.
How do I get in? You need 2 referees and the ability to make H&M trousers look like last season’s Prada.
Best bits: The Japanese restaurant (minus the Maccy D’s chaser).
Worst bits: Never being allowed to talk about what you actually saw happen on that dance floor.
*this happened once
**this only happens around 40% of the time.
#3 – No.5 Hertford Street, W1J 7RB
What’s that? You haven’t been to No. 5 yet? Tsk – you’re way behind the trend. It is a must-visit, especially if you enjoy Sloane Rangers attempting to casually drink terribly expensive cocktails through the stirrer instead of the straw…such fun. No seriously – such fun! Kick back in the first floor lounge which feels like the living room of a wealthy friend-of-a-friend: you feel reasonably comfortable but you’re never quite sure of the exact house rules or etiquette. Is it OK to take your shoes off and curl up with a book? Should you have worn a smoking jacket? Can my French bulldog wee on that curtain? Stay for after-hours downstairs at Lou Lou’s (beware of the low ceiling if you’re a genetically well-made specimen over 5ft 9in) and really let yourself slip into a no-holds-barred party scene. Shit for working, amazeballs for everything else.
Ideal for: People watching and emptying your wallet of everything but your Café Nero loyalty card.
How do I get in? If you know one of the aforementioned Sloane Rangers, then you can saddle up with them and ride your way in on their pony.
Best bits: The feeling that you’ve made it, socially. But not mentally, definitely not mentally.
Worst bits: Having to nod and smile at indecipherable posh people when they’re drunk.
Like Soho House meets Regus meeting rooms, except with more gravitas and a seemingly endless supply of high quality pastries that everyone is too slim and cool to eat (except us). 12HH is a beautifully located building just off Berkeley Street, and they do a good job of balancing sleek, trendy bar and restaurant with serious business environment, a balance that most clubs seem to struggle with. They have a top floor coffee suite dedicated to independent working and meetings, plus a mezzanine level with meeting room access for more formal and private get-togethers. Their bar is exquisitely designed with an outside smoking terrace and fabulous bar snacks. They have had the foresight to include an off-bar meeting room for those that wish to disguise their team meeting a bit of a drinking sesh (us? Never…). They top off the club with award-winning dining from Shaun Rankin and a mini gym with showers.
Ideal for: The coolest of entrepreneurs & the serious business elite
How do I get in? Sod off, it’s full. No more riff raff thanks…or maybe email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell them we sent you.
Best bits: Perfect mix of practical business and pleasure.
Worst bits: No dinner service in the restaurant. Whaat? Why?
Mayfair meets the City. This newly opened club and hotel has everything you need, it’s beautifully arranged to suit the local traders who want to drink copious amounts of whiskey and smoke cigars on the dedicated terrace and the female entrepreneurs who like to meet their clients in a City establishment and not get their bum pinched every time they go to the toilet. As well as being a gorgeous setting full of well-trained staff, the club caters for those last minute transformations with a blow dry and nail bar as well as a gym, designed by the hunky James Haskell… we’ve been hanging around A LOT but are still yet to see him. We’re single by the way….and ready to paar-taay…James. James?
Ideal for: The perfect mix of business and pleasure.
How do I get in? Ask us nicely and we’ll give you a special referral! The Devvy has only soft launched so we’d recommend getting in fast before everyone finds out about it.
Best bits: If you like yoga, the studios are fabulous for a stress free workout in the middle of London’s financial hub.
Worst bits: It’s pretty expensive considering you’re not in Mayfair. A glass of rose at £13… we’d expect a carafe and complimentary piece of gold bullion for that.