London launch boom rolls on

Tim Badham
Autumn’s boom of London launches continues apace, with Barbarella set to open on the Fulham Road this week. Formerly one of the go-to spots for London’s luminaries, Groucho Club maestro Jack Freud has enlisted clubland’s foremost names and undertaken a £2m refurbishment to restore Barbarella to its former glory, with dinner, drinks and dancing featuring prominently in their plans.

Nearby, Fulham Road’s other newest nightspot Dukebox is already drawing a chic party crowd. The design weds the industrial NYC glamour with fantastical British gracenotes, including carousel horses, while staff members don 18th century military coats as uniforms.

Ensuring they continue to stay on top of the pile, Chelsea contenders Raffles and Boujis have undergone extensive renovations to keep things contemporary. The Ignite Group has been especially busy as they are concurrently launching Boujis’s sister venue in Hong Kong, paying homage to its British heritage while conveying the metropolitan chic of its new environment. Supperclub founder Mark Cutler recently launched Honky Tonk in Chelsea, a New York-inspired restaurant and bar, with white reclaimed swimming pool tiles, Japanese ship lights and beer and tobacco infused cocktails. Elsewhere on Soho’s Kingly Street, BitterSweet has opened by the team behind Dirty Martini, with a design that channels Art Deco by way of the future and a reasonably priced cocktail menu that gives bitters pride of place. For an authentically Lyonnaise experience this side of the Channel, Edwin’s French Wine Bar in Shoreditch features stunning wines, privately imported by owner Edwin Chan, with 3,000 bottles from 70 different producers at incredibly low prices. Right around the corner, XOYO has turned the former XO Bar into the Shoreditch Butchery, a rough-and-ready hangout with lots of corrugated iron and street art from Banksy-associate Alexandre Farto.

For something to see, catch the world’s sexiest burlesque show, Crazy Horse – Forever Crazy in its purpose-built, antique mirrored Spiegel tent on the South Bank, housing four bars and some of the most gorgeous dancers on the planet. Sticking with theatrics, the St James Theatre has recently opened, featuring two bars that are perfect for a pre or post theatre restorative. Tim Badham is the founder of Innerplace, London’s leading entertainment concierge service.