Business Traveller reviews London’s new Devonshire Club, which has 68 hotel rooms and was launched last month by the founding director of Home House.
The Devonshire Club opened in June after a £25 million renovation of the 5,388 sqm building it now occupies on Devonshire Square. Primarily a private members’ club, it also has 68 high-end rooms and suites available to book by both members and non-members. The site was formerly warehouse used to store spices, silks and ostrich feathers in the Regency period.
The venue was set up by CEO Brian Clivaz and general manager Ian Palmer. Clivaz says the project has so far taken up “three and a half years of my life”.
Together, they also launched private members’ club Home House in the nineties and worked on the revamp of the Arts Club in 2011.
What was the inspiration for the Devonshire? Clivaz says: “For me a private club has to be like a home.” He says that if Home House was “a palace”, the Arts Club was “a plutocrats delight”, and L’Escargot (of which he is also chief executive) is “a cross between Downton Abbey and a bordello”. The Devonshire Club, he says, is “La Dolce Vita – St Tropez meets St James’s”. (It wasn’t obvious to me how this manifested itself.)
When conceptualising the venue, which is located in the City, Clivaz says: “We had in mind a sophisticated independent woman traveller and along with the more debonair city gent.” He adds: “We have always had a quirky way of doing things which takes the edge off the formality of many private clubs.”
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Very stylish but quiet – presumably people weren’t yet using it as it was so new. Upon arrival I was greeted at reception by Mason, who proceeded to be very helpful throughout my stay. (Heading out the door for a run later in the day, he gave me a bottle of water and a banana.) Staff were smartly dressed and polite, asking for feedback on any niggles.
Generally, there were very few teething problems, except for the fact that the lifts were temporarily out of order after dinner. It was obvious that money had been spent on the interiors, which have a modern, art deco look to them. Upon entering the ground floor lounge bar, guests are welcomed by a shiny gold statue of a naked man (this must be one of the quirks Clivaz is referring to).
WHERE IS IT?
On Devonshire Square, a revitalised pedestrian quarter in London’s financial district, a short distance from Liverpool Street station and St Mary Axe (better known as the Gherkin)
Clivaz says: “Bedrooms, when not booked by members, are available to non-members but they become temporary members of the Club [during their stay]. As membership fills, there will in time be very few rooms open to non-members. Members will always get the best available rate, while non-members will pay a premium.”
Bedrooms come with generously sized, comfortable beds made up with Purcell Irish cotton linen, large flatscreen TVs (mine folded out from the wall to get a better angle), “super high-speed” wifi (although I found the connection kept dropping), handy USB sockets by the bed for charging phones and tablets, Elemis bathing products, free minibars and 24 hour room service.
Marble bathrooms have walk-in rainshowers, although the door to mine opened outwards so you couldn’t leave a bath mat in front of it. I was impressed by how quiet and light my room was. Suites also have living areas with armchairs and a coffee table, which are a plus.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
I had both lunch and dinner at the Devonshire Club, and was impressed with the quality of the food, although it is on the pricey side. (Food and beverage rates are the same for both members and hotel guests.) During the day, I had a hummus and roasted pepper flatbread sandwich, while I worked on my laptop in the Winter Garden.
I returned for dinner in the 110-seat brasserie, which opens on to the Winter Garden and outdoor terrace, and is accessed through the swanky ground-floor bar. There was only one other table of diners that Saturday evening so it didn’t have much atmosphere but the service was good.
Apparently, the restaurant is one of only 12 restaurants in the UK to have been awarded a certificate from Japan’s Hyogo prefecture allowing it to serve authentic Kobe beef. The well-curated but fairly limited menu also lists the likes of scallop ceviche (£13) from the oyster bar, lobster linguine (£28), veal schnitzel (£24), short rib burger (£18) and Black Angus beef fillet (£38).
I ordered the watermelon, feta and mint salad (£9) to start, which was sweet and fresh, followed by a huge 16oz Dover sole (£42), which I couldn’t finish but was delicious and buttery. On the side, I requested the tender-stem broccoli with chilli, garlic and Japanese pesto – this was actually listed as a £16 main course but worked better as a side. The crème brulee with fraise de boise (£9) was creamy and moreish.
According to thecaterer.com, the head of food and beverage is Simon Whitley, who was previously executive chef at Coworth Park in Ascot. Oliver Lesnik, most recently at L’Escargot, is the executive head chef, while William Best, former premier sous-chef at the Ritz, is head chef. Tiziano Tasso, one time head bartender at the Ivy, has been appointed bars manager of the club.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES
There are three private-dining/meeting rooms for 12-20 delegates, a screening room, a cigar terrace and a garden planted with Japanese acer, ash, silver birch and flowering plumbago will open next month (August).
A gym opens at the beginning of September with a wellness centre a couple of weeks after that. Together they will have a Pilates studio and weights room, and a beauty salon with four private treatment rooms. These facilities will be located in an adjacent Grade II Listed Georgian townhouse at No 4 Devonshire Square.
A compelling new addition to London’s portfolio of private members’ clubs and an added option for business travellers looking for somewhere different to stay in the City. There isn’t as much space as I would have expected for conducting meetings or getting on with your work, however. It seems better suited to entertaining.
HOW MANY ROOMS? 68 – two Super King Size suites, six Superior suites, 23 Super King size rooms and 37 King Size rooms.
HIGHLIGHTS Attractive interior design, friendly staff, tasty food and, for a club, a good number of well-appointed hotel rooms.
PRICE Founder membership costs £2,400 per year (after September there will also be a £2,400 joining fee), while a ten-year Debenture membership is priced at £24,000. Rooms range between £200 and £1,200 per night (excluding VAT).
CONTACT Devonshire Club, 4 & 5 Devonshire Square, London; tel +44 (0)20 3750 4545; devonshire.club