Bold and beau­ti­ful

Leg­endary Lon­don nightspot Annabel’s has a spec­tac­u­lar new home. Where bet­ter to lounge with three Mid­dle Eastern movers and shak­ers on the in­ter­na­tional scene?


The ep­tiome of ex­clu­siv­ity, mem­bers club Annabel’s on Lon­don’s Berke­ley Square has hosted quite lit­er­ally any­one who’s any­one. Aris­to­crats and heads of state such as Princess Di­ana and US Pres­i­dent Richard Nixon have all fre­quented the place, quite pos­si­bly par­ty­ing along­side Hol­ly­wood and rock ’n’ roll roy­alty – think the likes of Jack Ni­chol­son and Mick Jag­ger. Founder Mark Bir­ley opened the club in 1963 – his friend, the so­cialite and zoo keeper John Aspinall in­sisted they needed some­where to gather of an evening, and Bir­ley ev­i­dently agreed. In 2003, the Queen vis­ited the club for din­ner and a drink. It is the only night­club HRH has ever vis­ited (of­fi­cially, at least).

Fol­low­ing its ac­qui­si­tion by fash­ion and restau­rant ty­coon Richard Car­ing in 2007, Annabel’s was given a spec­tac­u­lar makeover, re-open­ing two doors down in a four-storey Geor­gian town­house ear­lier this year. The dé­cor, re­alised by in­te­rior de­signer du jour Martín Brud­nizki, is a dizzy­ing mix of eclec­ti­cism and ec­cen­tric­i­ties – jun­gle mu­rals sur­round one room, while bu­colic English gar­dens scenes un­fold across oth­ers. And there is even a life-sized go­rilla in the hall­way.

Although the Annabel’s of old was strictly an af­ter-dark af­fair, its pala­tial new home is open from 7am un­til 4am daily, and needs pop­u­lat­ing with the ‘right’ peo­ple. With a his­toric mem­ber­ship pol­icy that could be suc­cinctly summed up by poet Arthur O’Shaugh­nessy’s Ode, it is up to newly in­stalled mem­ber­ship over­seer Astrid Har­bord to sift through the ap­pli­cants and build a co­terie of movers, shak­ers, mu­sic mak­ers and dream­ers of dreams.

“It’s a del­i­cate bal­ance,” she ex­plains. “We want to build some­thing in­ti­mate. It should be the kind of place where you can even go on your own, and you’ll still see some­one you know, or some­one you want to know, con­nect with them and and po­ten­tially form a new friend­ship.”

While some mem­bers-only clubs have an in­vite-only pol­icy, pre­sum­ably the clien­tele that Har­bord en­vis­ages are all of such stature that a cold ap­proach would never be un­wel­come.

“We want ev­ery­one to have fun, but of course man­ners and charm are of the ut­most im­por­tance,” she adds. Sounds like the recipe for a per­fectly charm­ing evening.

“We want ev­ery­one to have fun, but of course man­ners and charm are of the ut­most im­por­tance”

The Flower Room is em­bel­lished with em­broi­dered Pierre Frey silks and thou­sands of ce­ramic blooms. The in­tri­cate orig­i­nal plas­ter­work has been re­stored to its for­mer glory OP­PO­SITE: Chal­houb wears a look from her lat­est col­lec­tion, with a vel­vet jacket fea­tur­ing a flo­ral print that serendip­i­tously echoes the in­te­rior de­sign

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