The Naval Club stands resplendent on Hill Street, just off Berkeley Square—and it comes as a pleasant surprise. Retaining much of its 18th-century splendour as the former Mayfair home of Earl Chatham, First Lord of the Admiralty and brother of Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger, the interior is nonetheless light, airy and decorated in creams, golds and burgundy. It is elegant, relaxed yet stately. Less surprisingly, and in keeping with its history, it is decked out in maritime pictures and memorabilia, and is itself a naval War Memorial. As a Member of CountryClubuk you automatically become a reciprocal member of The Naval Club. Others pay up to £490 a year to join.
Arriving at its front door, entering the double doors beneath a stucco portico, and flying the Royal Navy’s White Ensign, we come to the marble hall and the grand staircase with its ornate balustrade and wrought-ironwork. In pride of place in the hall is the Roll of Honour for the 6,200 men and women of the Royal Naval Voluntary Reserve who were killed in battle during World War Two. It was unveiled by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh in 2000, and is housed in a cabinet designed and built by Lord Linley.
Moving up the ornate staircase to the dining room we find a large and sunlit Louis XVI room where tables are laid with crisp white linen and silver; on the walls hang two paintings of the Battle of Trafalgar by Auguste Ballin. Members and their guests dine here on good British cooking skilfully reinterpreted by a modern chef. Downstairs, the bar is spacious and well stocked, the dark red carpet complementing fine Victorian oak panelling, mouldings and carvings, lit by chandeliers. Nearby there is an elegant reading room. The 27 bedrooms, most of them en suite, have efficient direct-dial telephones with individual voicemail, television, Wifi and the facilities to make coffee and tea. Private dining and meeting rooms are at hand for all levels of function: The Sargent Room for up to 20 guests; The Cunliffe-Owen Room for up to 40; and The Gun Room for up to 60.
The club was founded by officers of the RNVR, who bought the premises from the original family in 1946. It was subsumed into the Royal Naval Reserve Club in 1958, and in 1969 the Naval Club was formed. A charity, known as Wave Heritage Trust, was established in 1996 to maintain the building in perpetuity as a War Memorial. As a non-profit-making organisation, rooted in service to its country and serving officers and men, the Naval Club sets very reasonable tarrifs for its facilities, despite its prestigious location.
In the light and airy dining room, Members and their guests enjoy full English breakfasts, luncheons and dinner, with a varied and well chosen wine list. The club is open seven days a week. In fine naval tradition, the front desk operates a round-the-clock watch.
We should just say that the Naval Club allowed itself to be the setting for Bertie Wooster and his chums, as The Drones Club in the TV series ‘Jeeves & Wooster’—great fund—but don’t try it in real life! The club rules ban mobile phones and enforce a strict no-jeans dress code throughout the club. You have been warned!
As a Member of CountryClubuk, you can stay at the Naval Club, enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner, book for the bar, or private rooms for your own events. You can entertain family, friends or colleagues, or visit alone—the club is perfect for country people with business in London, or for those who work in London and need somewhere in Mayfair to meet business acquaintances.
Club rules On arrival, kindly present your CountryClubuk membership card at the front desk. If you wish to book a bedroom, meeting room or table for lunch or dinner, call Member Services in advance on 020 7291 8600.