If you’re a London newbie, it probably takes a little nerve to negotiate this alleyway beside the English National Opera, which is not much wider than your shoulders. It leads from St Martin’s Lane to a couple of decent pubs, but also has a doorway leading to the lovely old-world ‘2 Brydges Place’, a private members club often used by the publishing trade for book launches. There’s a good restaurant and bar, and it’s not filled with yammering media twits. But for the first timer, a bugger to find.
London clubs are notoriously reticent about their membership and premises, but in the interests of research I have managed to worm my way into quite a few including the Garrick (elegant), the Caledonian (stylish), the Commonwealth (traditional), the Liberal (stuffy), the RAC (great pool) and the Arts (lovely garden). There are a great many more, of course, and that’s not even starting on the relative newcomers, ‘Meeja’ joints like Soho House (chain store-style media hangout) and the Groucho (telly people).
There are other intriguing venues like the Frontline Club, for independent journalists, and Quintessentially’s current takeover of the house of St Barnabas, which helps to support the charity for the homeless. I still remember the metal tube running from the building to the street (now sadly missing) down which you could roll money to help the charity. There’s still much in London that’s quietly and firmly hidden from view.