Not just for members | Bedrooms at The Hospital Club, 24, Endell Street, London WC2H 9HQ
I commute to London every day, Monday to Friday and have done so for nearly two decades. But there’s still so much of this great city that Saff and I haven’t experienced. Yes, we eat out at wonderful restaurants and have had some amazing experiences although we rarely travel up to town on the weekend, it just feels too much like we’re going to work. Plus we’re usually bogged down with DIY, the blog or the kids.
The times we make an exception are when we get to stay overnight, that way we can fully enjoy what London has to offer without having to get the ridiculously early last train or an extortionately expensive taxi home. Plus there’s something magical about staying overnight in London, it makes you feel like a tourist in your own country – somehow you see the city through fresh eyes.
Our ‘home’ for the night was a suite at The Hospital Club, a private members establishment, slap-bang in the middle of Covent Garden. The official line on their website is: ‘The Hospital Club is a creative hub in the heart of London. Offering the creative community the environment and facilities it needs to create, connect and collaborate.’
We say: ‘It’s a really cool hotel that just so happens to be in a REALLY cool private members club’. You don’t have to be a member to stay here (you get a 20% discount if you are) but when you do you get to use all their facilities. Including numerous bars and lounges, restaurant, an exhibition gallery and even a screening room. No wonder The Hospital Club is a magnet for media and arty types, with the odd actor/musician thrown in for good measure.
The club was founded by Dave Stewart (of Eurythmics fame) and Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft. The story goes that one night, Paul and Dave were having a drink in Covent Garden when they spotted a boarded-up building over the road. Between them, they hatched a plan to revive this once elegant shell, and transform it into a hub of creativity – full of people, ideas, music and life. Paul bought the former St Paul’s Hospital in 1996. Renovations began on the interior in 1999 and The Hospital Club opened its doors in 2004.
In January 2015 the fifteen new bedrooms, fitted out with leather, velvets, warm woods and stained glass opened their belt-inlaid doors. These stunning interiors are designed by Russell Sage Studios who have also weaved their magic at Dishoom, The Grain Store and The Zetter Townhouse. The luxury boutique rooms range from Small (£180) to Medium (£230), Large (£360) and Suites (£580). Size isn’t everything of course, even the small ones are packed with great features and each room features works from up-and-coming contemporary artists.
We stayed in one of the enormous eccentric 70’s style super-cool suites packed full of wonder – a crescent-shaped orange velvet sofa, dark wood panelling, a beautiful Buster & Punch cocktail cabinet aptly named the Rockstar with pre-mixed cocktails and all the tools to pretend to be a barman. The decor is all a bit plush and OTT but in a good way.
The best bit? A mixologist with a cocktail trolley comes to your door from 7pm to fix you a complimentary drink. This was the part we were most looking forward to but unfortunately, despite being back in our rooms in time eagerly anticipating its arrival, it didn’t show. However macarons had been left on our bed from the turn down service and a School of Life card with an inspiring quote, ours said: ‘The only people we can think of as normal are those we don’t know very well’ – Sigmund Freud. That man spoke a lot of sense.
The suite is uber cool. There’s REN products in the bathroom, two TVs, the obligatory Nespresso machine, a kinky erotic mini bar by Holloway Smith Noir (we didn’t go near this by the way). The bedroom can be screened off from the lounge area for more privacy (maybe for those who do purchase from the erotic mini bar…) There’s a sizeable private terrace if you’re lucky enough for the sun to come out, or you’re a smoker.
We popped down to the second floor for a few drinks before dinner. As you might have worked out by now, the vibe is pretty cool, most of the customers looked like media types, we even spotted a father with his young daughter enjoying a cocktail and an ice cream at the bar (cocktail for him, ice cream for her), what a life she must lead!
The Lounge is relaxed, laid back and welcoming, we felt at ease and certainly not like were in a private members club. As usual we ordered a couple of cocktails. My Brooklyn (£9.50) – Buillet Rye whiskey, Martini Dry, Maraschino cherry liqueur and bitters – a very grown up and, dare I say, manly drink. Saff ordered a Horney Fairy (£11.25) – Talisker, lemon juice, blackberries and basil was a little too strong for her but the colour matched her nails perfectly!
Dining is a casual affair – you can eat in the restaurant, in the bar, plus of course there’s room service. The restaurant offers popular British classics with a twist, we wouldn’t expect The Hospital Club to keep things too traditional. Ingredients are sourced from local suppliers (as much as they can considering they’re in central London) and their livestock is all responsibly farmed. We tend to be a little disappointed by hotel food. But we forgot, this isn’t a hotel – it’s a private members club that just so happens to have rooms!
We shared a starter or ‘small’ as the menu says (we’d have a large lunch) the Pork belly, scampie (sic) and scratchings (£10.50) leapt out at us. The belly was tender and not overly fatty as this cut can be, the breaded scampi was well cooked. But it was the scratchings that surprised us the most. It wasn’t crispy pig skin, oh no, it was a translucent and wafer thin rectangle of fish skin. I liked it, Saff wasn’t too sure of it or the light fish broth the meat paddled in.
Saff went for more piggy for her main course – Hay-smoked pork loin, roasted new potatoes and black cabbage (£18.50). A welcome surprise after the disappointing starter, super smokey with a textured crust and the veggies were tasty too. I opted for the Calves liver and bacon (£16.50) from the grill section. This is probably the most traditional dish on the menu and was pan-fried exactly as it should, none of that dry, powdery, overcooked rubbish. Served with a big dollop of creamy, well seasoned mash and an intense meaty onion gravy. My highlight, well it has to be crispy smoked bacon – to be honest I would have been happy with a plateful of that.
Unfortunately dessert was a real case of hit and miss. Saff’s Dark chocolate mousse with rum and raisin ice-cream (£7) wasn’t what she expected. She thought that the raisins looked pretty unappetising. The ice-cream was very watery, more icy than creamy – a bit like a sorbet. On the plus side her dislike of the plump syrup drenched golden raisins was definitely my gain. My dessert, Bread and butter pudding with clotted cream (£7), really hit the spot. Not too large a portion to be daunting and not too small to leave you wanting more.
The wine list is very cleverly divided into price ranges (plus champagne and a few ‘special’ bottles at the bottom). We had a good bottle of Statua Negroamaro (£20) – a Puglian Red packed full of juicy ﬂavours of red fruits and cherries. As we didn’t eat til quite late, we were tempted to retire to bed early but instead we decided to pop out. We couldn’t not, we were in the centre of Covent Garden, it would be wrong not to! That said we only went a few doors up to the lovely 10 Cases wine bar for more red wine and a spot of people watching.
Before we did finally go back to our room, we explored the fourth floor where some of the younger (and no so young) members were partying in the Oak Room and Martini Lounge. Oh to be 15 years younger or have more energy. Eventually we made our way to bed via the amazing yet slightly disturbing moulds of hospital equipment/skeletons by Solomon&Wu that line the walls.
Morning came around far too quickly, the sure sign of a good night’s sleep. Breakfast was great, who knew Saff would love a Kale and avocado smoothie (£5) so much? My extra zingy Orange Zinger (£4.50) – freshly juiced carrots, apples and half a hundredweight of ginger sure did wake me up! Breakfast ranges from uber healthy Probiotic yogurt, blueberries and Chia seeds (£6) to a full on indulgent Full English (£12).
We both went somewhere in the middle, my Homemade wholemeal crumpets (£3) were more like muffins and a little too doughy in the middle but the side order of bacon (£2.50) more than made up for that. Saff also struck gold with her Eggs any style on toast (£6), two free range poached eggs on in-house baked bread with a side of Baked Beans (£2.50). These weren’t ordinary beans, no Heinz here, mixed beans in a lighter and sweeter homemade tomato sauce.
That was that, time to checkout and get back to reality… We loved everything about The Hospital Club – the quirky decor, the ambience, the cocktails and most importantly the suite. The only downside was missing the cocktail trolley, but I’m willing to forgive them that – not too sure Saff will though!
24, Endell Street, London WC2H 9HQ
Telephone: 020 7170 9100
Book a room online
We stayed as guests of The Hospital Club, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.