The Arts Club occupies a beautiful Mayfair townhouse, discreetly located on Dover Street. Founded in 1863 the club provides a haven for those with a professional or amateur relationships with the Arts, Literature or Sciences. It continues to be a hub for creative and entrepreneurial patrons to come together to meet, exchange ideas, dine, participate in a diverse cultural programme and of course, celebrate special occasions. Our insiders tell us stories of royals dancing into the small hours in Leo’s, while Mark Ronson has been known to swing by to see live music and Beyonce and Jay Z stop by when they’re in town.
We sit down with Tom Couch, Director of Private Events at The Arts Club, to discover the rich history and what’s currently trending at this exclusive members club. Tom’s career in events began at Party Planners working for the Queen’s cousin, Lady Elizabeth Anson. Here he worked on a number of high-profile events, for multiple Royal families. Tom then went onto curate and manage the most luxurious and exclusive events, working at Claridge’s and Annabel’s before joining The Arts Club in 2020.
How would you describe The Arts Club?
Firstly, I may be a touch biased, but it has the best food in London and it’s often said by our members, too! Whether it’s weekend brunch, a Japanese feast in Kyubi or a celebratory dinner in the garden, there’s an array of tempting dishes to choose from. Aside from the wonderful menus, the club is timelessly stylish, with an unparalleled art collection and frequent exhibitions, meaning there’s always new artwork to see. There’s a buzz and feeling throughout the building that people are having a great time.
Tell us something most people don’t know about The Arts Club?
The club was badly bombed during the war and only the main staircase and the grandfather clock survived. The same clock still stands in the main hall so make sure you keep an eye out on arrival.
Who is likely to greet us on arrival?
One of the nicest things about working at The Arts Club is the people I work with. Each of the bars, restaurants and spaces throughout the club have a dedicated team who make our members feel welcome and invited. This all begins at the front desk, although you won’t get very far without a membership as we are strictly members only.
What kind of people hang out here?
All of our members have a passion for the arts, literature and sciences, which is one of our requirements for membership. On any given night you can expect to stumble on London’s stylish art crowd, alongside musicians, writers and entrepreneurs.
Who’s the chef and what’s your favourite dish?
In the Brasserie, Executive Head Chef, Jean-Luc Mongodin, has made it impossible to say just one, so a selection of mine includes; tuna tartare, Burrata with tomatoes & basil, sweetcorn & pomegranate salad, veal piccata al limone, baby chicken and of course, patisserie chef, Claude Lamache’s banana sticky toffee pudding – which is to die for!
Head upstairs to Kyubi and you’ll be treated to the most incredible platters of Japanese inspired cuisine, by Executive Head Chef, Soon Li. Our Kyubites are legendery – and the sashimi is the best I’ve tasted. You are guaranteed to be hungry after reading that!
Any hidden corners at The Arts Club?
A real hidden gem is our cigar lounge; Oscuro. Tucked away on the 2nd floor, this space is beautifully designed, with tropical, Cuban influences, beautiful marble flooring, monkey shaped lamps and living walls. Another little secret, or rather ‘Naisho’ (Japanese for secrecy), is our Kyubi private dining room, complete with its own terrace – you have to enter via the kitchen.
Favourite room to stay in at The Arts Club?
This has to be the Penthouse Suite! With unique artworks, a sumptuous living space, roll top bath and butler service, there’s nowhere more luxurious. It’s so well suited to entertaining, and we’ve held a number of incredible private dinners, parties and celebrations there, including beautifully intimate weddings. The suite is fully licensed for weddings and has a stunning roof top terrace which can host up to 16 guests outside and 26 for dinner inside with views across the rooftops of Mayfair. Very Mary Poppins!
Favourite piece of artwork from the collection?
There are a number of incredible pieces of artwork throughout the club. My personal favourite would have to be the Tomas Saraceno hanging sculpture suspended in our foyer, Galactic Brain Strings – it looks like it was always meant to be there.
Up and coming artists to have on our radar?
Our Drawing Room & Ante Room play host to exhibitions throughout the year, which are always fun to see. In a recent group show we had a piece by Lakwena Maciver, who’s certainly one to watch! We’re lucky to have some incredible galleries on our doorstep which are great for discovering new artists, I love Gazelli Art House, David Zwirner, Sprüth Magers and Richard Saltoun.
What does a wedding look like here?
If you are looking for a quintessentially Mayfair, elegant and luxurious wedding, I think we are the ideal location. Being licensed throughout the club offers flexibility and of course, more importantly, we have a delicious selection of menus and drinks to choose from with excellent service. An added bonus is our hotel, as we have two floors of beautiful suites that the couple can get ready in or collapse into bed after thier perfect day. Oh, and you get me to plan it!
Any dates for our diary?
Our annual Frieze party is the hottest ticket in town come October, with a who’s who of the art world guest list, top performers and a constant flow of cocktails (Frieze party not for members).
And finally, what’s next for The Arts Club…
On Boxing Day 2020, we opened our first international outpost in Dubai, which I’ll be visiting soon – it’s an incredible space. Closer to home, our much-loved townhouse will also be refreshed with some exciting refurbishment plans this spring. Of course, we’ll be retaining the timeless, eclectic style and luxury synonymous with the club, but you can expect much more colour, texture, mood lighting and energy as we freshen things up… All will be revealed soon!
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