"I don't want to join a club that will accept me as a member." It is this Groucho Marx quote that inspired The Groucho Club, one of the most exclusive members only clubs in London. Don’t even bother trying to blag your way in – it’s just not going to happen.
The Groucho Club is a multi-faceted venue that encompasses two bars, a brasserie and dining room, hotel rooms and six private function rooms, which can be hired out for meetings and special occasions. And hiring the private rooms is the only way non-members will ever get in. Even then you’re restricted to certain areas – although just being inside is an experience.
Upon entering, you’re immediately hit by the fact that this isn’t your usual glamorous club with chandeliers and extravagant, ostentatious decor. Instead, it’s pretty simple. The corridors are more akin to a country hotel than a glitzy club and the ground floor is almost old-fashioned. The upstairs bar is more contempory with a central cocktail bar that has modern art hanging from the walls, but it’s still understated. And that’s what the members want. A break from the forced glamour and in your face glitz of other clubs that assume that WAG style is the way to attract the hoi polloi.
The atmosphere at The Groucho Club isn’t in any way pretentious, it’s a haven for like-minded media professionals to get together away from the hustle and bustle of London. Anyone who isn't a wannabe comes here - Kirsten Dunst, Razorlight, Noel Gallagher and Rhys Ifans have all been papped leaving. If any member hassles one of the regular stars who attend then they are quickly banned. No autographs or photos here – just an escape from the hassle of what’s outside. And that’s why the club is so popular among the rich and famous who aren’t out to get papped at every occasion. People are polite, the waiting and bar staff are friendly and unfazed by celebrity, and the manager is everyone’s friend. It’s no wonder that this is the place to be.
The Groucho Club isn’t a nightclub – more a members club with bars and a restaurant. It’s certainly a million miles away from the likes of Chinawhite and Funky Buddha, whatever the misconception might be. The music you do get here is live – jazz and a piano in the corner of the upstairs bar helping to add to the ambience of the venue.
The food here is, of course, impressive. The Brasserie offers simpler dishes, while the dining room is for the bigger meals. Even the bar does amazing food – including the best burger you’ll have ever tasted at a mere £8. Prices are shockingly low considering where you are.
There is no draught here, perhaps unsurprisingly, but the bars are well stocked and bottled beers are available. There’s a substantial wine list to cover a range of budgets, and don't forget the must-have champagnes. In addition, there’s an impressive cocktail list and, at around £8 a go, the concoctions are delicious and expertly prepared by the professional bar staff.
The Last Word
The Groucho Club may not be a club covered in silver and gold, but it’s a laid-back, unpretentious venue that’s exclusive purely because its members want a place to escape the usual media circuit. And for just £6000 for lifetime membership it’s so worth it.