EXCITING news for fans of the good life – Playboy, the iconic brand set up by Hugh Hefner, is reopening its private members club in London, over two decades after the original closed its doors at 45 Park Lane back in the Eighties.

This time around Hef’s relocating to swanky new premises at Mayfair, and has leased a 17,000 square foot property spread over two floors in partnership with London Clubs International (LCI), owners of the Empire casino at Leicester Square and the Rendezvous on Old Park Lane.

The new club is being designed by savvy architects Jestico and Whiles, and will house an upmarket restaurant, cocktail bar, casino, lounge and gentlemen’s barber shop when it opens next year.

Joining will certainly cost you – LCI chief executive Michael Silberling isn’t disclosing the exact fee, but he says it’ll definitely be in the “upper quartile” of London’s league of private members clubs. But for fun and games, it’s going to be worth it, with the membership committee hoping to pull together a diverse group of individuals from all industries – showbiz, entertainment, finance and more – to frequent the club. And then, of course, there’ll be the requisite Playboy Bunnies on hand at all times, working in every role from waitresses and hostesses to croupiers in the casino...


Prompted by the recent news that BlueBay Asset Management founders Hugh Willis and Mark Poole are set to make £81m each from their stake in the firm if the £963m sale to Royal Bank of Canada goes ahead, a reader writes in to reminisce about working with the pair in the good old days at Kleinwort Benson.

“So nice to see how well they’ve done,” writes our source, who describes Poole as a “very clever trader and thoroughly decent chap” and Willis as a “truly great salesman”. Such a great salesman, apparently, that his colleagues on the testosterone-fuelled trading desk awarded him the cheeky nickname Hugh “Huge Willy” Willis…


A fond farewell this week to Chris Stallard, a City veteran of very long standing, who’s leaving the Square Mile after 40 years of sales trading.

Stallard, known as “Stan”, spent 23 years of that time at Panmure Gordon and finished up at Ambrian – where a mischievous colleague tells me he’s renowned for snatching a quick snooze at his desk when the markets get too hectic (see above). Friends are welcome to his retirement drinks tomorrow evening at his regular haunt, the Old Doctor Butlers Head on Masons Avenue.


Wine lovers usually pay good money for expert advice on which vintages to pair with different foods, so Mayer Brown corporate lawyer William Charnley deserves a mention for one of the most informative Twitter feeds The Capitalist has seen in a while. Charnley, tweeting as @WC7, is a fount of knowledge on vino, updating the feed regularly with suggestions for fellow wine lovers.

“Fish pie with Domaine Daniel Rion & Fils 1998 Echezeaux, classy and balanced,” he tweeted this week, while previous entries read along the same lines.

“Troplong Mondot 1988, excellent with chicken pie,” he advises, or “Lobster omelette with Krug 1995, fantastic…” Next time you’re hosting a dinner party, you know who to turn to.