5th July 2016
Venue of the month: The Clubhouse – St. James’s Square
Our guide to a pioneering London meeting space
Once a venue has put down roots, it’s always going to be brave decision to relocate. The Clubhouse’s new St. James’s Square building is massive – an improvement project based around customer feedback that the framework of Grafton Street couldn’t contain.
St. James’s square, conveniently located just a five-minute walk from Piccadilly Circus, is home to a number of private members’ clubs. Beautiful masonry gives The Clubhouse a level of charisma that so many new-builds are unable to reach. The dark bricks used compliment the seasonal colours of Green Park and St. James’s Park, both just around the corner.
After being greeted at reception I was encouraged to make myself at home and help myself to complimentary Nespresso coffee or a cold drink. 850 people from 250 companies are Clubhouse members and workspaces are spread across two floors with a particular focus on openness and productivity. Need to break out from a meeting? You’re never far from a lounge or creative area.
If there’s one thing The Clubhouse do better than any other venue, it’s seating. Pull up a minimalist wooden stool, perch on a wingback chair or slouch on a chesterfield sofa – the choice is yours. On the lower floor, industry meets luxury. Four exposed elevator shafts lie prone ready to lift you up five-stories of decadent white and grey marble – the feature wall an installation that fills adults with childlike wonder.
There are meeting spaces to match any agenda at St. James’s square. Rooms with round or rectangular tables come with tea, coffee, Wi-Fi and other modern equipment as standard. Just try not to lose yourself in the patterned geometrical wallpaper. A flexible space for large parties is named after radical potter, Josiah Wedgwood and the renowned British architect and designer of New Dheli, Sir Edwin Lutyens, who laid out his plans for the Indian capital in his studio on St. James’s Square.
On the menu at Grafton Street was milk chocolate, dark chocolate and white chocolate. Those with a sweet tooth revelled in this selection but customers expressed the need for something more wholesome and The Clubhouse have teamed up with Gail’s Artisan Bakery to deliver, and then some. A café serving garden fresh salads with pallet pleasing dressings and lovingly constructed sandwiches on fresh bread now means that delegates don’t have to brave the weather for a bite. Chocoholics fear not, you can still indulge in some Green & Blacks if you pop a pound into the naughty jar.
A lot of people don’t like change. If you had ever been to Grafton Street, you would have been forgiven for feeling a little uneasy about the move to St. James’s Square. The Clubhouse have been shrewd. Instead of emulating their old model they have listened to suggestions from their customers to futureproof themselves. As they plan their expansion across London, starting with a place somewhere even more centrally located in 2017, you can’t help but feel that uprooting and relocating is more a considered step forward than a leap of faith for The Clubhouse.