In my first years membership at The Clubhouse, Autumn came, the tan faded and the garden wall’s gorgeous green leaves, turning golden and red, began to fall. If not for a dip in the pool, what, I wondered, will I do here during winter days? Three years later, on a Tuesday afternoon, I am sitting on the familiar red sofa, sipping on a cup of tea (too early to justify a cocktail) and feeling a pang of guilt having scoffed down my third slice of cake. Admiring the stunning photography of Oskar Metsavaht, I’m so glad I still have a cosy place to come back to in the winter and loving The Clubhouse’s afternoon tea service.
Having spent virtually no time at The Clubhouse this past year with too much travel, I’ve been lucky enough to drop in to 4 other clubs around the globe. Friends were seriously impressed when I called to say I’d landed and suggested meeting at “my club” in London, New York, São Paulo and Punta. Always looking for an excuse to return to my beloved Rio de Janeiro, I recently hopped over for a weekend of World Cup fever, and took a sneak preview at The Clubhouse’s newest hip location, and can’t wait to add my 5th club to the list when its doors are opened later this year. I’m also wondering when The Clubhouse will begin a “frequent visitor” rewards program. I’ll be there claiming mine.
I’d like to share with you my experience as a globetrotting member. With no two clubs the same, yet all making you feel completely at home, the increasing accessibility to other clubs via The Clubhouse membership is a fantastic benefit. You must request to be added to the guest list in advance of any visit to associated clubs, but if you’re a spontaneous traveller like me, and suddenly remember you’re in a city with an associate club, The Clubhouse staff are always super efficient and speedy at communicating with their colleagues around the world, and will get you almost immediate access.
| Not just another pool |
My first New Year in Punta del Este in 2011 was spent driving all over the place. With Argentinean friends who’d grown up spending summers in Punta as perfect guides, we headed straight for our favourite, La Huella, José Ignacio’s famous restaurant nestled in the sand, and famous for attracting the “it” crowd. We went on to visit several fabulous places to eat drink and be merry while the sun shone, driving between Punta, La Barra, José Ignacio and beyond.
In December 2013 we decided to have a 5 day reunion in Punta. Arriving past midnight after the long drive from Colonia, we awoke in our familiar cosy apartment with the tall Uruguayan pines shading the pool. “Let’s check out the Clubhouse” I suggested enthusiastically… “The what?” came the response …”José Ignacio? Isn’t that a bit far? We have a pool here and we spent all day driving yesterday”. But hang on, I was the one driving! Faced with resistance from the Argentine contingency, I said “don’t worry I’ll go alone” at which point they jumped up and insisted on coming along. The tables had turned and I was now happy to be the guide.
José Ignacio is 18km from the city of Punta del Este. With a much more laid back vibe, it’s also the real place to be, and home to the cool international jet set. We arrived at the clubhouse, 3km outside town, to not one but three fabulous pools and none other than the friendly face of Parker and the Clubhouse BA crew to greet us. Caipirinha anyone? Would be rude not to! We stayed on until sunset and returned the next day with a grand plan to walk along the beach to la Huella for lunch. Ah but before we go, how about a caiprinha? Just one….but once the barbeque was lit, we left La Huella for another day…and so it continued, our daily ritual of waking up, making breakfast, and heading for Clubhouse José Ignacio. We didn’t actually go anywhere else for the next 4 days, not even to the beautiful ocean across the street! After partying our nights away what better than to way to recover than sit back, relax, take a dip in the pool and enjoy being waited on. No decision making needed! Speaking of recovery, my next favourite Clubhouse was once a hospital and still serves Penicillin, my favourite on their cocktail menu.
History: New Year Pop up; Clubhouse José Ignacio started in 2013/14, located within the posada Casa Suyaya
Location: 3km from José Ignacio, 18km from Punta del Este.
Services: Clubhouse Bar, Clubhouse Barbeque, Hotel Bar and restaurant, towel service, use of pool
Opening dates & hours: Dec 27-Jan 12, 9am-sunset, later if there is a Clubhouse event in the evening
What’s close by: Walk & Swim – the ocean and 2.5km of fabulous beach towards José Ignacio, Eat & Drink – La Huella is the perfect place to head after the sun sets at the Clubhouse
London, The Hospital Club
| Sick of shopping? Check-in your bags at the Hospital Club |
On my first visit to the Hospital Club in 2012, I discovered a new part of Soho I didn’t know existed despite working just 10 minutes away for years. Originally a hospital that opened it’s doors in 1749, it was reopened as a creative hub in 2004 by Microsoft co-owner and Philanthropist Paul Allen together with Dave Stewart, formerly Annie Lenox’s other half in the Eurythmics. Tucked away in a quiet cobblestone street just a few minutes walk from Covent Garden, the Theatre district and Oxford Street, it’s a haven of tranquillity and a fabulous place to have as a base. Nothing better during a long day in central London than have somewhere to check in your bags and do some extra shopping! On several occasions now I’ve Museum hopped, shopped, and between activities, worked, relaxed and met friends at the Hospital Club. The menu is fabulous, and I should know, having sampled breakfast, morning coffee, lunch, dinner, cocktails, and become quite lazy about trying out anywhere else. While delighted when someone suggests a new bar or restaurant to try in London, when I’m asked to choose a place, my version of “Take me to the Hilton” has become “Meet me at the Hospital Club”.
History: Opened in 2004
Location: Endell Street, corner with Shorts Gardens, nearest tube stops, Covent Garden (Piccadilly line), Holborn (Central and Piccadilly Lines) and Tottenham Court Road (Central and Northern Lines)
Services: Restaurant and bar areas spread across different floors, art gallery, private hire, member events
Opening dates & hours: Year round Monday to Friday 8am-2am, Saturdays 11am-2am, closed Sundays
What’s close by: Art – The British Museum, Theatre – numerous nearby, Shopping – many independent Boutiques, Views – The Paramount Bar for one of London’s best rooftop bars
| A hidden Oasis to escape São Paulo’s chaos|
Jardim Europa is one of those barrios in São Paulo that you whizz by in a taxi imagining the lives of all those who occupy its beautiful mansions hidden behind tall walls and tropical gardens. With a privileged location in one on of the quietest and only truly green areas of the city without a high rise building in sight, Tofiq House is situated half way between the business avenues of Paulista and Brigadeiro Faria Lima, and more importantly, a 5 minute taxi ride away from Unique’s Skybar, my all time favourite rooftop bar anywhere! Tofiq House is best reached by taxi, the closest commercial area within walking distance being Rua Gabriel Monte da Silva, home to São Paulo’s most beautiful interior and decoration stores and a nice café or two, good to know if you plan to hang out at Tofiq House during the day, since they currently have a very limited bar service and no food with the exception of planned events which they have on a regular basis. If you’re an art lover, you will love Tofiq House’s unique concept. In addition to a small and growing membership of interesting Paulistas, is an art incubator for young talent, and home to up to three resident artists at any one time. The concept is extended to the décor and furnishings of the house, where everything is a work in progress. Far from looking like a construction site, the unfinished elements are discreet and a great surprise when you are given a tour. While there I met Ludovik Thiriez, co-founder and one of the artists, as well as Sarah Chokifian, one of Brazils top shoe designers. I have a pair of her creations and was delighted when she revealed her identity.
History: Opened in August 2013
Location: Rua Taufik Camasmie, 39, Jardim Europa, São Paulo
Services: Bar, pool, dinners and events
Opening dates & hours: Wednesday – Sunday
What’s close by: Eat, Drink and Sunset watching – Unique’s Skybar, Art – aside from the in-house art, Museo da Imagem e do Som, Museo Brasileiro de Escultura, Window Shopping – for interiors, Rua Gabriel Monte da Silva, for your next Ferrari or Maserati, Via Italia, Av. Brasil
| A beautiful brownstone in Chelsea |
My two visits to Norwood House, once during the day and another at night, have both been during holiday weekends in New York, so I didn’t quite experience the best of it as a club. The very welcoming hostess said both times I should come back on another day and unfortunately I’ve not yet had the opportunity. With a fabulous location in Chelsea, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Norwood’s 13 original fireplaces, as well as the club’s activities, are spread over several floors. With a casual and charming atmosphere, when you walk through the front door you feel like you are walking in to someone’s beautiful brownstone home still true to its 19th Century origins, that is, until you start to take a closer look. Original features blend perfectly with contemporary art pieces and on opening some of the house’s doors you are met with the surprise of a production studio or a huge beautifully laid table awaiting its guests. Both times I visited I ate with friends in the back garden, a lovely treat for a New York summers day that would only have been made better with the luxury of a pool, making me really appreciate the fabulous BA Clubhouse garden. I’m keen to go back and enjoy drinks or dinner and if I’m lucky, some live music in one of Norwood’s warm and decadently decorated interior spaces.
History: 241 West 14th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues. Accessible by 14th St Subway, lines A,C,E, 1,2,3 & L, two citi bike stations within one block
Services: Bar and restaurant areas on different floors, small garden at the back of the house, events, live music venue, private hire
Opening dates & hours: Year round
What’s close by: Walking – The Highline, Shopping – New York’s most tranquil Apple Store on W14th St Biking – Take a New York’s Citi bike to Chelsea Pier and cycle all the way down to the new WTC, Views – Rooftop Bar at the Gainsvoort Hotel
| A new take on Carioca chic|
During recent weekend in Cidade Maravilloso to get a once in a lifetime taste of Brazilian World Cup fever, I checked out Clubhouse’s newest location. With the World Cup fading into a distant memory, I realise how quickly we move on from multi billion dollar events however fabulous they were at the time. Thankfully the next best thing to happen in Rio will be a longer lasting affair. Oskar Metsavaht, founding member and creator of the luxury clothing brand Osklen, coined the phrase “Kingdom of Ipanema” with his 2008 collection. It’s a title well deserved for Ipanema, the heart of the beach chic lifestyle loved by Cariocas, and really exciting that the new Clubhouse is literally on the edge of all that Ipenema has to offer. Perched on a hill, a short stroll up the tranquil winding street of Rua Saint Roman, Clubhouse Rio is just a 10 minute walk from the intersection of Ipanema and Arpoador beaches, a classic sunrise viewpoint for all night party people, and Posto 9, the Cariocas’ favourite beach spot for applauding the sunset, a further 5 minutes along the beach. Access to downtown could not be easier with General Osorio metro, a 5 minute walk down the hill en route to the beach. The metro station is also the entry point to Rio’s only free panoramic viewpoint, Mirante da Paz (Peace Lookout), with elevator access to the neighbouring favela Cantagalo and fabulous views of Ipanema, Corcovado and Lagoa.
History: It’s all about to begin…
Location: Rua Saint Roman, Ipanema/Copacabana – Rio de Janeiro
Services: 5 guest suites, Garden, pool, bar and restaurant
Opening dates & hours: Year round
What’s close by: Just a few steps down the hill, Ipanema, Copacabana and Arpoador beaches, Fasano hotel, Copacabana Forte with Café Confeitaria Colombo