It’s not every day you get to peek behind the doors of one of London’s most exclusive private members clubs. After all, they’re called private members clubs for a reason, right? Or so you thought. Because just a stone’s throw from bustling Oxford Street lies Home House – London’s most iconic private member’s club, Marylebone’s best kept secret and, personally, my new favourite spot for a luxury city staycation.
If you’ve ever wandered the streets of Marylebone, chances are you’ve passed the historic club before – though it’s likely you didn’t know it. Hidden in plain sight, but devilishly discreet, you’d be forgiven for walking right by Home House’s trio of townhouses without realising what lies behind its huge wooden doors. That is, unless you know what you’re looking for. And as we approach Portman Square for our one-night staycation (an opportunity for non-members to enjoy everything the iconic club has to offer), the entrance is only identifiable from a subtle number 20 above the door. Given Home House’s impressive reputation of grandeur, glamour, and champagne-fuelled parties, the mysterious exterior couldn’t be more fitting for a night of discreet debauchery.
The Ultimate Party Palace
Home House was commissioned in 1773 by Lady Home – a widowed, childless and rich Countess, otherwise known as ‘The Queen of Hell’. Designed purely as a sophisticated palace for her enjoyment and entertainment, the interiors are oozing with character, equipped with more than enough space to host her infamous parties and a secret staircase where she could sneak secret younger lovers up to her bedroom. This was a woman who was centuries ahead of her time (and quite frankly, someone I could definitely have a drink with).
Nowadays, Home House is primarily a private members club where its community of characters can come together to “connect, relax, and be their best selves” and most notably – attend the legendary members parties that Home House is known for. But luckily for those without the £2,250 membership fee, the House also welcomes non-members when booking a staycation package, allowing anyone to indulge in a slice of the luxury life – if only for the night.
The staycation package allows anyone to indulge in a slice of the luxury life - if only for the night.
As we’re greeted by the friendly staff in the foyer, we catch a glimpse of the opulent period staircase which leads to the Drawing Rooms on the first floor. Two Home House members pass by us at this point – champagne in hand at 2pm on a Thursday afternoon – and I can already tell I’m going to love it here.
Room options at Home House vary from Club and Feature rooms to Suites, each uniquely decorated with its own distinct character. From hand-painted silk wallpaper and the Duke of Newcastle’s actual mirror, to baths made for a king (literally) and an extraordinary bathroom covered in the same red marble as found in St Paul’s Cathedral, you’d struggle to find a London staycation option that’s more unique.
We’re shown to Lady Charlotte’s room – a luxurious second-floor bedroom with plush furnishings, striped décor and ceiling height windows overlooking Portman Square. Taking centre-stage is the gigantic sleigh-bed, whilst mustard yellow floor to ceiling striped wallpaper adds a splash of fun to this otherwise Regency-inspired pocket of tranquility. There’s a beautiful bathroom, a mini bar for late-night champagne sipping while you soak, and a walk-in wardrobe which I’ll admit, looks rather empty with only our two small suitcases to fill it.
I imagine bedding down in this Regency-inspired haven doesn’t feel dissimilar to what Bridgerton’s Lady Whistledown feels like after a tiring evening of hiding her true identity from the ton. And as I perch at the desk in the corner, equipped with illustrated postcards that could easily play host to my own scandalous society papers (“Dearest gentle Handbook readers…”), my Regency-era daydreams are interrupted by a knock at the door.
We’re delivered a bottle of Moët & Chandon champagne and, knowing the only way to truly enjoy such a luxury is to do so in a fluffy robe, we don our robes and slippers and settle into the striped sofa by the fireplace, whiling away several hours before dinner.
Bedding down here doesn't feel dissimilar to what Bridgerton's Lady Whistledown must feel like after a tiring evening of hiding her true identity from the ton.
Food & Drink
Home House boasts an impressive number of dining options, and throughout the three houses, you’ll find a mix of restaurants, bars, and late-night party spaces. We head to The House Bar at House 21, the newest of the three townhouses that takes inspiration from the Countess of Home’s wildly lavish parties and ‘such hedonistic behaviour that broke the harmony of Georgian Society life’.
Beautiful blue leather seats line the bar, grandfather-clock shelving houses cocktail ingredients, and a bold colour palette of pink adorns the walls; the perfect setting to choose a pre-dinner drink from an expertly curated cocktail menu. We opt for two Espresso Martinis and, having tried quite a few of the London bar scene’s coffee creations, I can say this is one of the city’s best.
We take our seats for dinner, where elegant small plates are served on tiered trays. Highlights include burrata with teardrop peppers, artichokes and sun dried tomatoes; octopus carpaccio with lemon gel, olive crumbs, chilli lime and coriander dressing; and melt-in-the-mouth truffle and parmesan fries. For dessert, the chocolate bomboloni (dumplings filled with hazelnut milk chocolate, served hot) are so fantastically rich and tasty that, realising there’s no way we’d possibly be willing to share, we order two.
Beyond the picturesque pink and vibrant House 21, there are plenty more opportunities to indulge around Home House; whether its afternoon tea in The Drawing Rooms, al fresco lunch in The Garden, brasserie-style dining in The Restaurant or light bites in The Bison Bar. The general vibe here is little and often, and you could easily wander from room to room for hours, indulging in a new small plate or cocktail as you go.
The more time we spend in Home House, the more it becomes clear that this isn’t just any private members club. The vibe is chilled out, fun and (rather unusually for London) really, really friendly.
The members here all appear to know each other – sitting in large groups, chatting between tables with friends (I notice we’re the only couple), and many even greet our waitress with open arms as if she was their oldest companion. This camaraderie is likely down to the sheer amount of members events the club hosts; from jazz in The Drawing Rooms and live band karaoke, to book clubs, yoga, drag bingo and the legendary members’ parties – there are plenty of opportunities for members to mingle.
Smiling members keen to welcome new faces greet us during our stay, and I notice that even as a non-member, I feel perfectly at home.
In the morning, we tear ourselves away from our sleigh-bed slumber for a late breakfast in The Drawing Rooms. Tables are low whilst sofas are sink-in, so Eggs Benedict, fresh fruit, granola and orange juice are served to us on lap-trays.
The final hour spent in this incredible building is the perfect opportunity to reflect on our night whilst googling the price of the Home House membership we now so desperately want (a reasonable £120.83 per month if you’re under 35 like me). If it weren’t for the fact that we were still sitting in The Drawing Rooms (next to a man who is chilling bottle of champagne for himself whilst on a Zoom meeting), I might have thought it was all a dream.
Now that I'm in-the-know, I'm already desperate to come back.
Reluctantly, we manage to extricate ourselves from the building and head back into the world of chaos and commutes that awaits us outside. But, now that I’m in-the-know, I’m already desperate to come back. As we collect our bags, say goodbye to the staff, and re-enter the streets of London once more, I leave with just one thought… “There really is no place like Home”.