Such are the UAE’s ties to Europe’s business capital that London can feel like a home-from-home for some Emirates residents. So much so that it’s worth thinking about investing in their lifestyle while abroad to make it, well, more homely
Private members’ clubs offer space, exclusivity and luxury in a city where the congested roads, cramped public transport and continuous throng on the streets can make it hard to stay above the crowd.
Where London’s original members’ clubs were stuffy all-male drinking affairs with very narrow demographics (earls, dukes and the old boy network), the new wave of establishments offers everything from upmarket spas to business facilities to some of the capital’s finest food. As an added incentive, all the clubs listed below offer discounted international membership for the infrequent visitor.
Here’s what you need to know to find the right place for you:
12 Hay Hill
Pitching itself as “The Club for Business”, Hay Hill has fully serviced offices, meeting rooms, boardrooms and business lounges with club membership complimentary for corporate residents.
On the culinary front, the chef Shaun Rankin oversees a brasserie, deli bar and private dining specialising in seasonal ingredients from the seas around Jersey, where he runs the Michelin-starred restaurant Ormer. A gym area gives the opportunity to burn off some of the associated calories.
As to be expected with an address overlooking Berkeley Square in the heart of Mayfair, it isn’t the cheapest option in town. However, after discounts for overseas members it comes in at Â£1,200 per annum (Dh6.295), or Â£120 a month with a Â£500 joining fee.
With two venues, in Moorgate and Bank, Eight Club has London’s financial district, the City of London, covered. Each club offers different flavours, with Moorgate boasting memorable views from its decked terrace as well as a gym and library, while Bank is more cosy with pool tables and a cinema.
Membership for both establishments is Â£600 per year for overseas residents,plus a Â£75 joining fee.
Searcys at The Gherkin
If you like your venues with a view and don’t suffer from vertigo Searcys at The Gherkin could be the place for you. The UK’s highest private members’ club sits on the 38th floor of the St Mary’s Axe building, as it’s officially called, designed by the renowned architect Sir Norman Foster.
Located in the City’s insurance district, the club is close to Richard Rogers’ Lloyds Building. As well as great architecture, members get exclusive access to a members’ lounge and the two restaurants on the top two floors of The Gherkin as well as a host of benefits and discounts at venues across London and in the building itself.
International membership is Â£500 a year plus Â£150 joining fee.
Occupying three Georgian town houses on Portman Square behind Selfridges in London’s West End, Home House mixes the best of traditional and contemporary design with a Grand Staircase designed by Robert Adam leading to the drawing rooms in No 20 and the avant garde cocktail bar created by Dame Zaha Hadid on the ground floor of No 21.
Clients can be wined and dined at the Asian-themed Octagon Dining Room or the club’s brasserie-style restaurant featuring updated British classics. With a history dating back to the 18th century when the Countess of Home commissioned Robert Wyatt to build a pavilion for entertaining and enjoyment at No 20, you’re paying for a precious slice of London’s history with annual overseas membership of Â£1,215 and a joining fee of Â£295.
The Hospital Club
Based in Covent Garden, The Hospital Club aims to bring together creative types from wherever they may hail. Founded by the Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart in 2004, it has hotel rooms, meeting rooms and even a TV and music studio. Two cocktail bars, a cinema and an art gallery complete a thoroughly media-friendly offering.
International membership is Â£625 a year after a joining fee of Â£250.
South Kensington Club
While most of London’s private members’ clubs provide more in the way of indulgence than restoration, the South Kensington Club puts wellness at the centre of its offering. Combining high-quality fitness facilities with an expansive menu of treatments, as well as a variety of complimentary therapies and a traditional bathhouse, it is as much exclusive spa as it is a more traditional members’ club.
A bit of pampering might be just the ticket if you take up the services of travel concierge service The Voyager Club, led by the Arctic adventurer Christina Franco. In a unique twist for such an establishment, it organises trips, expeditions and adventures for members inspired by monthly themes, presented at regular dinner parties.
Overseas membership is Â£228 a month plus a Â£500 joining fee.
Grace Belgravia is immediately more exclusive than most of the competition in that it caters to only half the population: women. Rumoured to include Cara and Poppy Delevingne as members, this really is an A-list hangout. As well as a spa and a gym, the club offers medical and well-being services for anything from acupuncture to hormone therapy and hypnotherapy.
If you want to completely surrender to the experience, a whole life tutor promises to get you back on track. Your stomach won’t be left out either: a nutritionist can help you navigate the menu, including quinoa porridge with almond milk and superfood toppings.
To keep mind, body and soul in balance while away on business will cost you Â£3,500 a year plus a Â£2,000 joining fee as an overseas member, but that does include a free wellness consultation, personal training session and spa assessment.
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