A ‘home from home’ for London’s creative community, is how Covent Garden’s The Hospital Club bravely describes itself - which is some claim when you think about how accommodating the capital is for the creatively inclined.
But this rather bold statement is justified. The Hospital Club is one of those welcoming, comfortable and informal members’ clubs - unstuffy, unpretentious, and with most of the ingredients needed to attract London’s creative crowd, who, in recent years have swarmed to private members' clubs as a more luxurious alternative to working from home.
It’s Thursday afternoon in the Club, which for many marks the beginning of the end of the week. There’s a healthy chatter in the bar cum restaurant cum coworking space, as freelancers meet, Skype and enjoy long lunches – those lunches that somehow last well into the night.
"After all, creatives aren’t shy of a few cocktails on a school-night are they? For some, Thursday afternoon pretty much is the weekend."
But that’s not to say The Hospital Club isn't serious about work. It is. In fact, its mission statement is to ‘Create, Connect and Collaborate’ – three words that go hand-in-hand with freelancing, contracting and any startup for that matter.
And if the track record of the two founders are anything to go by, you’re in safe hands. Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft with none other than Bill Gates, and Dave Stewart, one half of The Eurhythmics – while it might seem are from two very different worlds – are clearly enterprising, creative guys who both know more than a thing or two about getting an idea off the ground.
As the story goes, in 2004, after a few drinks, they stumbled across what was then the boarded up St Paul's Hospital in Covent Garden, and decided to buy it, almost on the spot. Nothing like a bit of gut instinct in business is there? Thirteen years later and The Hospital Club is going strong.
Networking and Events.
Looking for somewhere to take clients? Look no further. This is where the Club comes into its own. Members can enjoy intimate concerts, art exhibitions in The Gallery, private film screenings in The Cinema, Business Breakfasts in the Loft Lounge and a handful of business events and drinks evenings designed to help under 30s get their business off the ground.
And to a certain extent that’s reflected in the atmosphere. The place feels like its deliberately marketing itself to London’s younger creative crowd, but without making it too hip for London’s creative ‘grey-beards’.
"You know the ones, the Nike-trainer, Canada Goose coat wearing fifty and sixty somethings. It’s a hard balance to strike, but they've struck it."
In the lounge on the third, and top floor it was disappointingly slow, but after a tactical move downstairs, and into the second floor bar area it improved a fair whack. Let’s be kind and put it down to a bad day.
From the Bar Menu: a tender Chicken Caesar salad, with sweet potato wedges for one, and a four-cheese pizza, skinny fries, followed by some kind of ‘death by chocolate dessert’ for the other.
"Indulgent? Completely. It was Thursday after all…"
The food did what it said on the tin. But for those with a more sophisticated palette or looking to impress, more refined menus are available. Take your pick from the Breakfast, Working Lunch, Private Dining, Canape or Nibbles Menus, depending on time of the day, mood or company you find yourself in.
For a London members’ club, it’s well-priced. You’re looking at £825 for an annual membership, but if you’re under 27, fees start at £425. Call it less than a coffee a day. Not bad really when you think about it like that.
Looking for a place to stay in London? No problem. Big discounts apply to the already very affordable hotel rooms at The Hospital Club.
Homely, friendly, with a touch of Austin Powers about the place. And thanks to the upstairs hotel rooms, The Hospital Club is a handy, trendy bolthole to have in the centre of town.
Fire up your laptop in one of the many quiet corners before the excitement of the evening ahead takes over.
Sure, it might not eat up every inch of the tabloid gossip columns, or drown your social media timeline like some of London's other well-known members' clubs, but that's no bad thing...