Soho house

The curious rise of Soho House

The San Lorenzo neighbourhood of Rome, a short walk from the murderous environs of Termini, the central train station, is not particularly old or beautiful. A working-class neighbourhood once connected to the Wuehrer brewery and freight yard, it was bombed heavily during the war, the only massive bombing in Rome. But like Wedding or Neukolln in Berlin, San Lorenzo’s old working class roots have translated neatly into arty cool, and the area, still scruffy, is now a left-wing hipster paradise, its walls cheerily scrawled with anarchist graffiti. That Soho House, the preternaturally on-trend, voraciously expansive private members club (now trading under the blandly global name of Membership Collective Group) has


Andy Burnham: how Arthur Scargill inspires me

When Martin Freeman endorsed Labour ahead of the election, his credentials were called into question after Steerpike reported that Freeman was a former supporter of Arthur Scargill’s far-left Socialist party. So Mr S was curious to hear Burnham last night reveal his own admiration for Scargill – who formed the Socialist party because he was so angry that Labour had ‘abandoned any pretence of being a socialist party’. As the Tories raised a glass to Lynton Crosby at the election strategist’s bash in Kensington, the Labour leadership hopeful was across town setting out his brand of self-titled ‘aspirational socialism’ over at Soho House, the £1400 private members’ club. During the talk, Burnham – who has

Back in the Babington Triangle: Roth Bar & Grill reviewed

The Roth Bar & Grill exists on an art-farm called Durslade in Bruton, Somerset, which is also the country outpost of the Hauser & Wirth gallery, which is the silliest art gallery in Britain. It specialises in decapitated gnomes. It is only 13 miles from Babington House, Soho House’s monstrous country house with its playrooms for adults and giant fish-finger sandwiches. This is a world of electric Agas, black Range Rovers and pink wellington boots; and it is, almost by itself, the reason why country dwellers despise town dwellers. If people live in homage to what they read in Sunday newspaper supplements, they deserve to be despised. When I visited

Pigging out

The Pig at Combe is a restaurant in a country house hotel in a valley in Devon. I actually went to the Combe when it was only a country house hotel but, unlike Martha Gellhorn looking around a hotel function room in Spain and realising it had been an operating theatre in the Civil War, I did not recognise it. I spent three hours eating there, and I missed it until I looked it up and realised I spent a slightly haunted night here 15 years ago, after covering something Jane Austen-related nearby. That is an occupational hazard of the female newspaper feature writer, and that cold blue-and-white wall-paper will

A culinary wasteland

The Allis is a restaurant inside the new Soho House at White City — it is called White City House — and it is every bit as ghastly as it sounds. I do not really object to Soho House’s attempt to colonise the entire planet and furnish it with purple velvet armchairs, which are now being replicated in people’s homes, leaving us in a sort of velvet fun palace you cannot escape, while silently crying. It also feels like a poor model for capitalism, even late capitalism. I quite like the one in Dean Street — if you can ignore the people, that is, which you can because they don’t

The House of Soho

I have a phobia of wedding lists. They always seem very presumptuous. Friends ask for monstrous amounts of things that I’m sure they don’t really want. I look at their lists and my heart sinks. I know I should buy something, but what to choose from all the overpriced paraphernalia? I wonder if the guests of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle felt the same way when their royal wedding invitations arrived. It had been announced that the pair didn’t want presents and instead, donations should be made to seven charities that reflected their ‘shared values’. But then came the news that their ‘private’ wedding list would be held with Soho

Soho drinking clubs

When someone says ‘Let’s go for a drink at my club’, what do you imagine? A grand St James’s establishment like Boodle’s or White’s, or perhaps a media hangout such as the Groucho or Soho House? What you probably don’t think of is an unmarked door and a flight of rickety stairs. Yet through unpromising-looking doorways in and around Soho are little clubs where you can take a break from the 21st century. Places such as the Phoenix beneath the Phoenix theatre on Charing Cross Road, Gerry’s on Dean Street and the Academy on Lexington Street are relics of a time (Gerry’s has been going since 1955) when pubs had

Snobbery in the age of social media

We like to think we have moved on from the age of snobbery. Judging others by birth or status, or at least being seen to, is the height of rudeness, and just not very cool. But English snobbery is in fact as potent as before — and possibly even more insidious. Among my age group of twentysomethings, it is rife. Our elders might think of us as fiercely egalitarian, and in some ways that’s true. We aren’t as obviously obsessed with class. But we’ve found sneakier ways of being snobs. It starts with social media. Everyone has an online profile, and that has created a new generation of ultra snobs,

Out of sorts at the RSC

The RSC’s summer blockbuster is about Queen Anne. It’s called Queen Anne. It opens at the Inns of Court where drunken wags are satirising the royals with a naughty sketch about boobs and beer guts. Everyone on stage pretended this was hilarious. A few audience members did too, out of politeness. The principal characters arrive with their dramatic goals on display. Queen Anne wants to rule wisely. Her general, Marlborough, wants to conquer widely. His wife, Sarah, wants to help her monarch to rule wisely and her husband to conquer widely. And Sarah’s scheming cousin, Abigail, wants to befriend the Queen so that she can marry a steady salary. These

Vaulting ambition

To the Ned, as diarists say when they can’t provide a rational reason for their voyage: the colossal banking hall transformed into ten restaurants, or one super-restaurant with ten menus, by the owners of Soho House, who are sucking up all the press coverage the age of churnalism can grant. I cannot yet decide what is more chilling: a Soho House open to all or a Soho House safely hidden behind its semi–weaponised membership criteria. I began to loathe the brand when I saw the table-tennis tables and selfie booths at Shoreditch House. I wouldn’t care if the media class played table tennis and took selfies until their hands and

West End churls

Cafe Monico, as if named by an illiterate playboy, is on Shaftesbury Avenue between The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and Les Mis, so if you want to be in an Asperger’s syndrome/-singing French revolutionary restaurant sandwich it is the café for you, and only for you. It is from Soho House, whose quest to make the whole of Britain a crèche-restaurant with table-tennis tables and photo booths for moronic remembrance goes on. There are more Soho House franchises now than Ivy franchises; even Chiswick has one. It is confusing, but if it upsets the media executive class, who must find new ponds to preen and fight

Soho in Somerset

It is summer and the listless metropolitan thinks of grass. It cannot afford to stay at Durslade Farmhouse, Somerset, a branch of the Hauser & Wirth art gallery that serves food and plays cow noises in a former barn as authentic country folk rip their eyeballs out. Locals talk about Durslade Farm as a child that died. I think it is a Holocaust memorial for cows, but oblivious. Babington House is the country branch, and it is open to members, their friends, and hotel guests. There is a a spa called the Cowshed that sells ‘Lazy Cow’ and ‘Moody Cow’ beauty products (misogyny masquerading as irony), a restaurant and a

A London for all! George Galloway to speak at £1400 private members’ club

George Galloway’s London mayoral campaign carries a key message: ‘A London for all, not just for those dripping with gold.’ The Respect politician promises to make London a fairer, more equal society. But after Nick Cohen mentioned in The Spectator earlier this week that Galloway hadn’t been seen at a number of mayoral hustings, Mr S wondered where he might be hanging out these days. Shoreditch House, it would seem. According to an email sent to all Soho House members, Galloway is scheduled to give a talk to the Shoreditch branch of the private members’ club on 13 April: Given that membership at the club costs £1,400, Mr S imagines there will be a few champagne socialists

Real life | 1 October 2015

At least two insurances are going to have to go, as I grapple with fear of penury, I have decided. My health insurance is looking increasingly pointless, because I never use it. I just keep it going because I daren’t stop it. And I think the same can be said of my ‘Being A Cool Person’ insurance. If you have never heard of the latter, it is also sometimes referred to as ‘membership of Soho House’. I have had it for donkey’s years but I never avail myself of it. I used to use it a lot in my heyday, when I could party with the best of them. Back

Andy Burnham talks equality at £1400 private members’ club

Throughout his career, Andy Burnham has been keen to point out that he is not one of the ‘metropolitan elite’. The Labour leadership hopeful says that ‘for too long there has been a sense of a metropolitan elite at the top of the Labour party’. So Mr S was curious to learn the venue for a talk he is giving next week. Burnham will appear at the Soho House private members’ club on Tuesday to read ‘a short story about equality and justice’. While Steerpike is sure Burnham’s words will be sincere, he worries that the venue – which is popular with Hugh Grant, Madonna and Kirsty Young – may distract from the message. To

Jeremy Clarke: it’s 3 a.m. in London’s bohemian quarter and not a reasonably priced drink in sight

It’s a disgrace! I went up to London from Devon, a hick up from the sticks, to Annabel’s in Berkeley Square to a ‘party to start the Christmas party season’, it said on the invitation. ‘Eight till late.’ ‘Champagne, cocktails and old school fun.’ I’d never been to Annabel’s. I’d never dreamed of going to Annabel’s. I was always fairly certain that if I did go to Annabel’s I wouldn’t be allowed in. They’d just laugh. I took a cab from Paddington to Mayfair. It curvetted smoothly to a halt two pavement-slab widths from the discreet entrance. As I searched my pockets for cash, a volunteer from among the paparazzi