Matthew Steeples visits the modern day reinterpretation of what Annabel’s originally was, Albert’s in South Kensington
Named after Albert, Prince Consort (1819 – 1861) and situated within the quarter of South Kensington that is fondly known as ‘Albertopolis’, Albert’s is a place where opulent English country house styling meets Manhattan.
Offering drinks, dinner and dancing, Albert’s opened in September and occupies a site on the corner of Old Brompton Road and Queen’s Gate that was an Irish bar named Kavanagh’s until 2008. Back then it was all ‘spit and sawdust’ but what founding partners Piers Adam, Carlo Carello, Jake Parkinson-Smith and Fraser Carruthers have created is something far more opulent. After descending a Balmoral tartan lined staircase, guests enter a series of paneled rooms where Jay Gatsby and Dickie Greenleaf would undoubtedly feel at home. The club is dominated by Colefax & Fowler wallpaper, images by the iconic photographer Norman Parkinson (Jake Parkinson-Smith’s grandfather) and hunting prints but there are also plenty of eccentric items on display – including a set of Prince Albert’s love letters.
Where Albert’s differs from most clubs is that it focuses on providing the very best experience for its membership. It begins before you’ve arrived, with, if you’re lucky, a Rolls-Royce club car, and continues through the club’s own racing and shooting syndicates to superb food by a former Cecconi’s chef, Alessio Piras, and the very finest of cocktails.
The dinner menu in the 90-seat dining room is traditional, sophisticated and indulgent. Steak tartare – prepared at the table – and beef carpaccio ‘Harry’s Bar’ style are staples whilst foie gras, lobster and white truffles from Alba prominently feature also. For drinkers, there are two bars including one serving martinis of a similar punchiness to those at Duke’s Hotel in St James’s and whisky from the years of Prince Albert’s birth and death.
After dinner, the tablecloths disappear, the lights are dimmed and the space transforms into a club proper but it’s not a club that seeks to appeal to just those in their 20s. Here, you’ll find a slightly more grown up space and one that is, quite frankly, a reincarnation of the very spirit that Annabel’s had when Mark Birley first established it in 1963. You’ll love it.
Albert’s, 92b Old Brompton Road, London, SW7 3LQ. Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7225 1899.
Life membership is available for a one-off payment of £2,500. Annual membership is priced at £500 per year with a £250 joining fee.