I’ll drink to that! Soho’s infamous Colony Room rises again
SOME are sceptical about the possibility of life after death, but the fearless drinkers of London’s Soho are evidently not among them.
I can reveal that next week they will be celebrating the resurrection of the capital’s most unforgiving boozing den — the Colony Room Club, where a young Daniel Craig and Kate Moss once did stints behind the bar, and where successive generations of artists, from Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud to Damien Hirst, slaked their thirst.
Around them, engaged in vicious verbal exchanges and sporadic acts of violence, were a ripe assortment of what one Soho historian identified as ‘ retired prostitutes, actors, criminals’, including the Kray twins, and full-time drunkards.
Founded in 1948 by the combative Muriel Belcher, and favoured by Noel Coward, Peter O’Toole and John Hurt, and visited by Princess Margaret, the Colony Room appeared to have expired for ever when its dark green, smoke- stained upstairs rooms closed in 2008.
An attempt last year to revive the Colony Room — and transplant it next to the Dorchester Hotel in the alien lushness of Mayfair — ended in failure.
But there’s no doubt about its re- birth in nearby Heddon Street, orchestrated by artist Darren Coffield. He’s ensuring that old members feel at home; the club’s walls will be a reassuringly familiar bilious green, even if the carpet won’t — like the old one — feel like asphalt.
Anyone with a laptop is liable to receive similar treatment to that meted out by the club’s second owner, Ian Board, when spotting a mobile phone, which he’d throw across the room.
His hostility was understandable. In the old landline days, he’d listen to customers’ conversations on his own extension — and issue warnings that they’d be thrown out for not drinking fast enough.
Here’s to the Colony’s after-life!