I received the fabulous news at the beginning of the year that I had been selected for the Sir Cecil McKee bursary and would be visiting the London Clubs. Alex Graham quickly set to work with the task of making contact with all the club secretaries and organised a full itinerary for myself and my husband Andrew to visit. He did not disappoint us with a lineup of 8 clubs to visit within 3 days.
We began our visit on Friday morning in St James at the East India Club where we were greeted at the front door by the wonderful Alex Bray, Club Secretary who gave us a fabulous tour of all the facilities including the back of house areas, this club did not disappoint and we enjoyed breakfast in the stunning dining room. Next, we visited the In and Out Club where the newly appointment Membership & Social Secretary, Kay Dacey showed us around the club, bedrooms, gym and swimming pool. We ended the fantastic tour with lunch in the Goat Bistro with a very delicious Curry ‘Friday’s speciality’. Our last appointment of the day was with, Operations Manager, Chris Hever who met us in the Morning Room and showed us around the stunning facilities of the Carlton Club to include its elegant staircase, Thatcher Drawing Room, named after the Former President Baroness Thatcher and newly kitted out kitchen and lovely veranda. We had the weekend free and did a lot of sightseeing around the ‘Climate & Brexit protesters’ and even had time to squeeze in a comedy show and meet up with family.
On Monday it was back to work and we began our first visit of the day in The Travellers Club meeting the lovely Hristina Krastanova, Membership Secretary as they celebrate their bicentenary and stand as one of the oldest clubs in Pall Mall.
The stunning library did not disappoint especially when I heard it had been theQueen Mothers favourite room, the dining room was stunning along with the intimate bar, Map room and outside facilities shared with the Reform Club. Next
stop was the Oxford & Cambridge where we met Deputy Secretary, Andrew Goddard who gave us a first class tour beginning with the Opulent Coffee Room then onto the Smoking Room (no smoking allowed! ) the extensive library, Gallery Bar, function rooms and Squash courts, unfortunately the bedrooms were all occupied so we were unable to view these. Our final appointment of the day was at the majestic Reform Club with its amazing lobby. Here we met Paul Austin & Claire Gardner, Paul has worked for the club for around 26 years so was able to give us an excellent insight to the club and its history, Claire explained the upcoming plans to install a 17 person lift and new bar facilities. The Dining Room was stunning along with the stranger’s restaurant for those members that were looking for a light bite!
Tuesday approached and we had our final tour at the Savile Club just off Mayfair, Julian Malone-Lee, Club Secretary, was the perfect host and showed us every inch of the club and more! This, for me, is a must-see club with its luxury bedrooms with all mod cons, sociable bar area and outside areas, the cellar rooms where perfect for an intimate dinner or a simple business meeting. There are exciting times ahead with filming imminent in November. This club was full of character and had the perfect setting for a
wedding. Within the Savile Club is the Flyfishers club where I met Secretary Paul Varney who gave me an insight to ‘Flyfishing’ and showed me around the library and club facilities.
All the clubs we visited were excellent and I would happily recommend them all, but my cheeky favourite’s where most definitely the East India Club & the Savile Club…. Shhhhhh…
I would like to take this opportunity to Thank the Committee for selecting me and giving me the chance to visit these amazing clubs and also to Alex Graham for arranging such a packed and fun iternary.