Agreeing to return for an education in cigars and a gentle smoke, we make our way to the members’ lounge on the first floor, overlooking the terrace garden below. The Members’ Lounge, including the Drawing and Anterooms, can be hired on Saturday and Sunday for lunch and Sunday evenings. The light is warm yet bright here… and again art on the walls: Avant Garde Eastern and Central European offerings from the Cold War. Not as chilly as it sounds: they include fun pieces from Boris Buan and Wojciech Fangor.
Below stairs, you’ll find the decadent 1863 Club. An intimate – yet spacious – dining and club area. A popular celebrity hangout and launch space, members can enjoy cabaret and comedy, live music and DJ sets. The perfect location for fashion shows, launches, private parties, screenings and private dinners.
Thanks to its owners’ appreciation of fine cuisine, The Arts Club boasts two highly regarded restaurants. The Japanese Kyubi was closed during our stay but is open by the time you read this review. Helmed by Soon Li Ong it’s had superb reviews with a wonderful robata grill, eclectic menu and its very own Zen terrace for lunches on warmer days.
We enjoyed a superb early supper in the main dining room, savouring mouth-watering cuisine from Executive Chef Jean-Luc Mongodin and his brigade. The menu and wine list are mesmerising… so much to enjoy. Seeking recommendations from our attentive waiter Emiliano we had three hors d’oeuvres: Yellowtail with citrus dressing, divers scallops with seaweed tartare and ginger beurre blanc, and from the truffle menu: a divine Burrata with truffle dressing. The eclectic and complementary flavours and textures were divine.
Our wine – the delicate Jean-Louis Chavre St Joseph Céléste was a superb pairing. Robert Parker has hailed this winemaker as one of the world’s best and although not a wine expert, I heartily concur. A fruity, honey-like peachy flavour that continued to be a bold accompaniment – after a short interlude – to our mains of Acacia honey marinated black cod and date crusted lamb loin, aubergine caviar and apricot chutney. Again truly exquisite presentation and orgasmic flavours from Jean-Luc’s kitchen. A meal that I wanted to continue forever… By this time two hours had passed… members had arrived and left. And we were still perusing the dessert menu.
Incredibly, we found space for Apple tart and vanilla ice cream, and for my friend a warm vanilla pudding with a William’s pear, paired with a delicious Côteaux de Layon dessert wine.
We chatted with Chef Jean-Luc Mongodin after our meal. He told us the fish is sourced fish from Cornwall and Scotland, veal from France, venison from Scotland and succulent Burrata flown in twice weekly from Italy. “With our unlimited budget we can source the best ingredients in the world,” he smiles. Jean-Luc honed his talents in the finest restaurants in Europe and the US (Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas and Ritz Carlton, Atlanta), working alongside luminaries such as Paul Bocuse, Roger Vergé and Gaston Lenôtre. What’s his inspiration?
“My mentors have all influenced me,” he reveals. “I was lucky to have these amazing and inspiring chefs to learn from at the beginning of my career.”
An after dinner stroll around the streets Mayfair is a great way to work off dinner, perhaps to Shepherd’s Market, or along Piccadilly. The only walking we managed, however, was from our table to the lift. Sleep was welcome and deep – the soundproofing excellent.
Despite attempts to hide in our suite, we reluctantly left The Arts Club after brunch,. A late leisurely and languid affair comprising crispy bacon and eggs. And superb coffee. The perfect start to a late morning.
The Arts Club hotel and club is a truly bespoke experience – the service was impeccable and attentive without being intrusive. A haven of peace and sophistication in the heart of bustling Mayfair, this is one London club that delivers on its promise of offering members and guests ‘exquisite art, elegant surroundings and incredible food.’
And the cost of membership at The Arts Club? A very reasonable £2000 per year plus £2000 joining fee. I ask Alice Chadwyck-Healey, a Director of The Arts Club, what the Committee looks for in new members:
“Basically a diverse and interesting cross-section of people who will enhance the membership, and who will immerse themselves in club life,” she tells me. “Variety is the key to an interesting and lively Club, so we look for members of all ages, from all over the world and across multiple areas of the arts including literature, media, theatre, dance, politics and even science. Patrons of the arts are equally welcome (it was for them that the Club was originally created in 1863) and all applications must show a demonstrable interest in the arts on the application form.”
In addition to an eclectic membership list, a good membership club should have relaxed yet attentive service, excellent cuisine, comfortable spaces for meetings and social occasions. And a suite to hunker down in at the end of a beautiful evening.
The Arts Club has all of these and more. Luxurious rooms and suites, cuisine worthy of a Michelin star (or two) and superb spaces for private parties as well as business meetings. The Arts Club and Hotel is one of the very best club hotels I’ve had the pleasure to stay at. Where’s that membership form…
The Arts Club – How and Where
The Arts Club, 40 Dover Street, Mayfair London W1S 4NP
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7499 8581
Nearest Tube: Green Park and Hyde Park Corner (Piccadilly & Victoria)
Email: [email protected]
Rooms at The Arts Club hotel start at £600.
The Arts Club Membership
Full membership: £2000 pa. Joining fee £2000
By Gina Baksa