IF THE late Lucian Freud had owned a crash-pad in Soho, what would it have looked like? Such was the starting point for Apartment 58, the first in a new breed of members’ clubs for the iPad generation.
“We wanted something that works for a busy executive in a major metropolis,” said Notting Hill Arts Club founder Alan Grant, who devised the concept of the technology-equipped “home from home” with business associate Ronald Ndoro.
“We looked at a number of members’ club models, and to me it is pretty alien that you can’t use your smartphone in Soho House,” says Grant of his 1 February launch. “Our members can let themselves in with their own key, access the Cloud to work off an iPad or Mac, pick up their mail, and park their bicycle.”
The Soho club, at 58 Poland Street, is the first of three planned Apartment 58 openings this year. Grant and Ndoro are “three to four weeks away” from securing a site near Portobello Road for the second club, to open before the Olympics, with a third due to open in Shoreditch or Dalston in time for London Fashion Week in September.
Grant refuses to name the City investment manager who has put up seed capital for the project, but says the £600,000 to fund the first two clubs has been covered, anticipating self-generated returns that will bankroll expansion into a chain of Vietnamese restaurants and a string of brasseries, three of which will be located underneath the Apartment 58 sites.
Names on the shortlist for the Apartment 58 advisory board include Topshop’s creative director Kate Phelan, model Alexa Chung, and musicians Dizzee Rascal and Kanye West. Cocktails will be served from 6pm at each club – but some work will still get done, claims Grant. “This is not a classic late-night venue; it is a useful work, networking and pre-socialising place.” Whatever you say.
SUPPLY AND DEMAND
SOME inventive free market economics from the Margaret Thatcher-themed club Maggie’s, where from next Wednesday drinks prices will rise and fall according to the “demand” on the live trading screens behind the bar.
Once the club’s drinks menu has “floated” on the stock market, it’s anyone’s guess how much you will end up paying for a round on the weekly Wall Street Wednesdays – although insider tips leaked on the Twitter feed @maggies_club will point barfly traders in the right direction. The dress code, in case you were wondering, is “Would Gordon approve?”. Probably not.
SEEING THE LIGHT
IN 2005, Rohan Narse was a Goldman Sachs investment banker with a double chin, spending 20 days a month travelling and eating more than his exercise regime justified. In 2012, Narse (pictured left) looks younger than his 46 years, and spends his days teaching hedge fund managers and Big Four partners how to restore balance in their lives.
The turning point came in 2008, when Narse almost died in a car crash on the M3. “I experienced a lot of stillness in that accident,” says Narse. “I realised I didn’t want to come back to putting on a blue suit and tie every day and doing the same old transactions.”
A two-year quest around the ashrams of India later, and Narse is helping financiers stop living the unreal life of “a vampire or a ghost” – and to sleep more soundly – through his seminars at The Light Centre in Belgravia. Stressed-out banking executives, take note.