I’ve got a soft spot for Annabel’s, after all I had my stag party there and, from what I’ve been able to piece together, it was jolly fine too. Perfectly decadent, reassuringly exclusive and packed full of wonderful people, Annabel’s was the quintessential nightclub. Old Annabel’s was always, and is, a magnet for magnates, brimming with fascinating people; a place where Royals rubbed metaphoric shoulders with financiers, politicians got drunk with crooks and film stars wafted their Hollywood magic. But, like a little too many of their members, the club needed a facelift. And so it has spent the last year under the scalpel, being transformed into something entirely new two doors down. With the grand re-opening apparently imminent, here’s what we know so far about the new Annabel’s.
It’s Going To Be Bigger. A Whole Lot Bigger.
One of the charms of old Annabel’s was that it was what those pin striped, pointy-shoed, estate agent types might loftily refer to as ‘bijou’. Descend the iron fire-escape staircase into what was the basement of a Mayfair townhouse and the whole thing stretched to no more than a handful of rooms. New Annabel’s has, cuckoo-like, taken over the whole nest. Spread across four floors and 26,000 square feet this is more than just a nightclub, it’s transformed into a super-club squarely pitched against the likes of Soho House, The Groucho and even arch rival 5 Hertford Street, founded by Mark Birley’s son Robin (remember the Birleys have fallen out, the rumour being that when Richard Caring bought Annabel’s, the sale went through on condition that founder Mark’s son Robin could not step foot into any of his clubs…).
Nips A No-No
A distant friend once had a ‘no jeans’ wedding dress code. Thankfully I wasn’t invited but I shudder to imagine what people who need instructing not to wear denim to the ceremony actually turn up in. Dungarees at the altar? Cargo pants in the marquee? I’ll put good money on that groom wore one of those ghastly cravat things. But riff raff in shiny suits have never been permitted to cross the sacred threshold at Annabel’s. Until now? Worryingly the rules have been relaxed, and it’s now okay to wear deck shoes and discard the tie, trainers aren’t banned and jackets can be removed on the dancefloor. In fact the relaxed code is looking very much like the ‘no jeans’ wedding invite. Except that thankfully they’ve put a man even snobbier than me on the case of defining the dress code, and it’s pretty punchy.
Writer Derek Blasberg has decreed that there must be no sunglasses at night, dirty fingernails, cargo pockets, bad highlights, shorts, VPLs, nipples on women, nipples on men, distressed denim or ill fitting suits. And believe me, we’re paraphrasing.
I’m struggling to recall any time I wasn’t wearing black tie to Annabel’s; now I just need to cover my nips.
Take A Bow-Wow
Celebrity dogs (that is, dogs owned by celebs, not Beethoven and Scooby Doo) will also have a place in the new Annabel’s. The club rules reveal that the club will be dog-friendly and they’ve even hired ‘the world’s finest’ dog walker who will be around the hounds around the clock.
It’s not clear if dogs will have to apply for membership or, indeed, be subject to the nipple ban…
You’re Probably Not On The List
Which brings us onto the thorny subject of membership. When 5 Hertford Street opened many of the younger, richer and whizzier Annabel’s members went there instead, but the remaining old guard are currently feeling a little cut-adrift as the membership list has been totally torn up. New broom. Proud Annabel’s regulars, the ones who’ve propped up the bar for decades, have found they’ve got to re-apply and they’re not happy about it. Really not happy. Unless you’re one of the surviving 78 octogenarian founder members you’ll have to get re-elected. We expect that the membership requirements will be stringent and exclusive, but we hope that it doesn’t neglect the old-timers.
The cost at time of opening, by the way, is £750 per year for under-27s (the group they most want to attract), £1,500 a year for under-35s and £2,750 a year for over-35s. Plus joining fees. If that sounds like too much then your only other option is to time-travel and be one of the surviving founders, who will be able to join at the original fee of five guineas, or £5.25.
The Royal Wee
You’ve got to check out the ladies loos. They’ve already been billed as “the most beautiful in town” and designer Martin Brudnizki has ensured that they will be genuinely memorable, with basically pink everything. From the pink silk flowers entirely covering the ceiling, the pink onyx sinks and even the loos themselves, everything will be pink. Brudnizki, also responsible for Sexy Fish just across the way, has played a blinder and I’m seriously considering gender-identifying as a woman when I visit just in order to check out these pink beauties!
We hear there was meant to be luxury spa launched in the mews behind the townhouse, giving members the chance for a pamper and a treatment before a busy night of socialising. However a secret source (okay, Annabel’s own PR lady) has told us that this is now mysteriously ‘on hold’. Shame.
You Don’t Gotta Go To Work, Work, Work
Unleash your inner freelancer by making the most of Annabel’s work area. With work trends moving away from office based jobs into something more flexible and 21st century, what could be more zeitgeisty than taking your Macbook Pro (it’s always with the Macbooks, those people) and working out of Annabel’s? Also pretty impressive for meetings, though perhaps don’t take your bank manager if you’re pleading poverty to get that loan rate down.
Ice, Ice, Baby
When’s a cube not a cube? When it’s at Annabel’s and it’s made out of ice. In my books you’re not even close to diva territory until you actually care what shape your ice cubes come in, and the club must be expecting Mariah Carey levels of divadom because they’ve hired a full-time ice carver who will be responsible for cocktail ice ‘cubes’. I’m guessing the pineapple shaped ice trays I’ve got at home wouldn’t cut it.
Jack Up The Dancing
Remember everyone used to rave about visiting Newcastle because there’s that club with the revolving dancefloor? Revolving ain’t nothing, how about a dancefloor that rises hydraulically? We’re guessing this isn’t going to occur mid Saturday-Night-Fever, and is rather to give options for corporate bookings, but it’s still pretty damn cool.
Outside’s The New Inside
Smokers rejoice! The terrace at Annabel’s looks like it’s going to be phenomenal. If recent years have shown us anything it’s that Londoners love a terrace, and this terrace looks like it’ll rival anything else out there. And come winter they’ll just pop the spectacular glass roof over, and carry right on.
It’ll Be *Nearly* 24-Hour
The club will open at 7am for breakfast, which we expect to be a sumptuous affair, and the day will end at 4am when the lights will go on and members will be hounded out (no doubt, indeed, still with their hounds). They will then have to wander the streets of Mayfair for three hours until they can knock back on the door for another breakfast.
Zig A Zig Ah
You got to have a sense of humidor to appreciate a good cigar pun. Thankfully Annabel’s have an on-site cigar shop and cigar room for the real thing, run by one of Havana’s best and there to advise on exactly which virgin’s thigh your tobacco was rolled on.
Okay We’re Sold, So When’s It Opening?
Like Shania Twain, I’m not that easily impressed. But new Annabel’s really has got me excited. The scale, the luxury, the restaurants, the pink loos, it’s the perfect package. So, supposing you don’t get black balled in the highly opaque membership process, when can you and your Jack Russell expect to rock up at 46 Berkeley Square? Well, that’s the question that nobody seems able to answer.