Welcome to The St James’s Club, your reciprocal private members’ club and hotel in the heart of London’s St James’s, midway between St James’s Palace and The Ritz Hotel. To those accustomed to the gloomy magnificence of traditional gentlemen’s clubs—the dingy porter’s lodge, the threadbare carpets, the swooping staircase beneath pictures of battles, dead game and po-faced past chairmen—the St James’s Club comes as a pleasant surprise.
Closed for more than two years for a complete refurbishment, it emerged like a butterfly from its pupae—refreshed and renewed, effortlessly elegant, luxuriously beautiful, and more of an hotel than a traditional club. The wallpapers are silk, the chandeliers Murano glass; there is spun gold on the ceilings, spun silk on the beds; and the Impressionist art collection which graces almost every wall is original.
This, then, is the background to your reciprocal club in St James’s, back after its long sojourn. The club, its history, and its finest original features remain (including its secret tunnel to St James’s Palace, heavily disguised as the Wine Cellar). Let us take a guided tour, and see what is new …
First to the guest rooms, the effect is sheer Mayfair chic—exquisite furnishings, fine linen, polished stone bathrooms and state-of-the-art technology, including free wifi. Many of the rooms have their own private balcony, and views over the rooftops of St James’s. The St James and the Westminster Suites (which combine to create the Penthouse) are accessed via a private lift. The Westminster opens on to a rooftop terrace spacious enough for a large drinks or dinner party. More modest, but still featuring the silk wallpapers, polished stone bathrooms and hi-tech gadgetry—are the Executive Rooms. Ask us for one with a Jacuzzi or a balcony.
Moving on to the restaurant, we find a chef of rare talent, William Drabble, and a Michelin star. The impeccable fine dining restaurant (named Seven Park Place by William Drabble) is decked out in black and cream, with pale lemon banquettes and black slipper chairs, a setting that creates a contemporary, unusual and stylish backdrop to Drabble’s fine food—from foie gras to poached lobster to saddle of lamb. Alongside, William’s Bar & Bistro offers an elegant setting for cocktails and simple yet delicious meals, from a club sandwich to a seriously good sirloin steak, overseen by an array of original oils. Room service delivers a round-the-clock menu of salads, soups, pasta and drinks to the 60 guest rooms and suites.
Business facilities are excellent, as they are for leisure. And everywhere there are exquisite pictures—with one or two eyebrow-raisers—and original wood panelling, so the feeling is of being in the private home of a collector. What is going on here? Everybody knows London clubs are not designed to be comfortable, nor to have modern amenities. The conclusion, then, must be that this is not a ‘proper’ club. Only up to a point. Though the St James’s Club is not owned by its members, and since its reopening it has added ‘hotel’ to its name—and been awarded five stars—it retains its club membership (for which it has habitually charged a joining fee of £250 and an annual membership fee of £400 plus VAT), and it is proud of its distinguished history as a diplomats’ club.
The St James’s Club was founded in 1857 by the Earl ‘Pussy’ Granville and the Marchese d’Azeglio, the Sardinian Minister, after a contretemps at the Travellers’ Club—from which most of the diplomatic corps members resigned. Lord Granville canvassed the entire London diplomatic corps, foreign as well as British, and they changed their allegiance with alacrity and little of their customary diplomacy.
In 1867, the club moved to Grafton Street, the following year to Piccadilly and again, in 1981, to Park Place, where now it resides within a dark coral and white Victorian townhouse exterior which belies its cool and sophisticated interior. At that time, with the Club committee chaired by the actor Sir John Mills and members who included film stars Liza Minelli, Dudley Moore, Michael Caine and Sean Connery, as well as Tim Rice, Michael Parkinson and Lord Attenborough, its style became as much thespian as diplomatic. Today’s celebrities include actors Colin Salmon, Helen McCrory, Claire Sweeney, Damian Lewis and Luke Wilson, opera singer Katherine Jenkins, and former rock stars Cher and Keith Richards—an eclectic mix of contemporary and classical, which rather sums up the current club atmosphere. This, coupled with its excellent and peaceful location just off St James’s Street, means that guests can enjoy the best of all worlds—including an early morning walk in St James’s Park.
As a Member of CountryClubuk you automatically receive complimentary reciprocal membership to the St James’s Club and access to all the facilities. Full membership would be £650 plus VAT in the first year.
Our Members receive preferential room rates on guest rooms at the St James’s, with VIP status, a complimentary room upgrade if available on arrival, and special rates for meeting and event room hire. Club rates include free Wifi.
To check availability for rooms, dining and private events, please call Member Services on 020 7399 2960.