We visited the thoroughly modern home of luxury well-being at the South Kensington Club.
If you ever liked the idea of a Members’ Club but something about the old world stench of misogyny and wood paneling put you off, then the South Kensington Club could be just what you’re looking for. A far cry from the Gentlemen’s Clubs that were bastions of Empire and well-aged scotch (not that you can’t grab one of those here), the South Kensington takes a fresh approach, combining services beneficial for mind, body and even soul. That means you won’t just find excellent and nutritious food at The Club Restaurant – look out for some of the best vegetarian eating available in the capital – but also unparalleled fitness and well being facilities.
I tried out a particularly intense hot yoga session before hitting the fitness studio (luckily for me, expert trainers were on hand to offer valuable advice to the uninitiated). Somehow though, the Club’s banya bathhouse was infinitely more relaxing; taking its cues from Russian bathhouse culture, the treatment begins with a humid, pore-opening sauna session before the banchik (banya therapist) proceeds to give you a kind of bracing but wonderful massage with a whisk of leaves. It’s all finished off with a refreshing surge of icy water that helps close up the pores and leaves you feeling distinctly refreshed. If that sounds a bit severe, fear not, you’re in safe hands. Oh, and there’s a certain peculiar irony in experiencing such decadent indulgence in a building that once housed the first home and studio of tortured artist Francis Bacon.
As for the more cerebral side of things, the SKC offers monthly lecture series accompanied by expert-led exhibitions – it’s not all comfy chairs and booze, y’know. Add to that an enviable range of associated clubs around the world (including the beautiful Saint James in Paris and Budapest’s super chic Brody Studios) and you really have got a club experience like no other at the SKC.