Home House – Private Members’ Club, London

Home House, an iconic private members’ club in London, celebrates its 25th anniversary, marking a transformative impact on the city’s traditional members’ club scene. Originally established as a pleasure palace by Lady Home in the 18th century, known for her extravagant parties, it was designed by renowned architects James Wyatt and Robert Adam. The club, famous for hosting high society and celebrities like Madonna, Pamela Anderson, Annie Lennox, Paul McCartney, and others, continues to attract a mix of famous and regular members. Its festive season this year is particularly special, celebrating both its 25th anniversary and over 250 years of heritage. The club is adorned in silver jubilee-themed decorations, transforming it into a winter wonderland. The Luxury Editor’s roving reporter, Simon Rumley, visited to find out more.

If the Groucho is the grand-daddy of London’s private members’ clubs, Soho House its bastard spawn, Black’s its neighbour, now six foot under, it’s hard to say exactly what Home House, a contemporary of all the above, is. Perhaps a well-connected socialite. Perhaps one who’s omnipresent but never has to try too hard. One who seems to have no real interest in passing fads, or social media trends. One who has been quietly, confidently, forging a unique path through a unique life.

Celebrating its 25th year this winter, although the other clubs opened before Home House, its history trumps them all and starts, actually, in 1773 when Lady Home commissioned leading architect of the day, James Wyatt, to build a space devoted exclusively to her socialising. Such were Lady Home’s hedonistic tendencies, she was nick-named ‘Queen of Hell’ and built a hidden door which allowed her to lead younger lovers into her boudoir without causing too much tongue-wagging.

At Christmastime, Home House’s entrance on 21 Portman Square is less Hell, and more tribute to seasonal cheer. Christmas trees, white candles, and snowy twigs intermingle with fairy lights and spangled stars, practically beckon the passer-by to sneak inside.  Past the front door wreaths and cosy reception area is a bold, masculine staircase with stone steps and wooden handrails which drip majestically with more seasonal decorations.

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Above is a circular, small, chapel-like ceiling which encourages daylight. At the first flight of stairs, another Christmas tree glows majestically. The building is Grade-1 listed and has several meeting rooms providing it with an almost labyrinthine quality. Carpeted, with practically regal furniture, every room boasts cornicing, chandeliers, marble fireplaces, and historical murals. The whole house is, to the t, lavish, luscious and jaw-dropping.

The restaurant is different; large and square with high ceilings. A large gold framed mirror hangs over a large fireplace and mustard pleated curtains and pelmets match flock wallpaper with a similar but more muted pallette. The room gives into contemporaneity with its chandelier replaced by a sculpture combining fluorescent tubing and black spiky sticks. It creates a slick crown of thorns vibe and also provides more of a context for artworks by David Surman;  brightly coloured, thick and sloppy painstrokes of amusing and amused animals and birds.

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I go for a Moet & Chandon to start with and my friend, a dirty Martini. He’s immediately impressed by our waiter who asks if the Martini should be gin or vodka and quite how dirty he wants it. ‘Fairly’ rather than ‘Filthy’ is the answer and impressively, that’s exactly what he gets; cloudy and with one good-sized olive.

The menu is ‘Seasonal British’ and has everything from Artichoke Soup to Haggis Scotch egg for starters. I opt for Cornish Crab which is decorated with small cuts of red grapefruit,  avocado purée and dill oil. It’s delicate, sweet, sublime and irresistible. The grapefruit provides small bursts of fruity energy. It’s quite different to my friend’s Confit duck & pistachio terrine which feels much more of an appropriate ‘winter’ starter. It’s unashamedly meaty and succulent in its fattiness. It’s very rich and comes with fig chutney to counteract its refreshing tang. Small snacks of pistachio add visual flair and texture.

After some discussion, we opt for the same main; Longhorn fillet of beef braised ox-cheek Bourguignon and creamed potato. This is a curious one. Is almost post-modern and, in a different setting, could be construed as a culinary sense of humour.  Longhorn beef is considered one of the best in the world as it’s leaner, and less fatty than most other beefs. Beef bourguignon is also a beef dish, obviously, but based on stewing and stock. So this is like ordering chilli con carne with your beef burger (which of course some do).  My first mouthful of Longhorn comes with a chunk of stewed beef and the contrast is marked. The Longhorn is tender but, relatively speaking, chewy compared with the bourguignon which falls apart in my mouth. The Longhorn is much meatier in flavour, the bourguignon, more complex, red winey almost. And therein lies the rub; the bourguignon with its mushrooms and wine-based viscosity works as an unusual but perfect and luxurious sauce for the purer Longhorn. The dish also comes with fluffy mashed potatoes to ensure that not a drop of the sauce goes to waste.

Relatively unusual for staff these days, Home House supplies waiters and restaurant managers alike with a uniform. It’s formal but playful and could easily work for a natty airline; a midnight blue suit contrasts with bright white shirt and bright yellow/gold ties. Woven into the breast pocket is a cartoon crocodile wearing a crown, luxuriating against a wreath. In other dining circumstances, the uniform could be constraining or stultifying but here it comes across as edifying and everyone we speak to seems proud of it and their position in the machine. The waiters are knowledgeable and attentive and know the answers to our every question which rarely happens in London these days. That said, we did receive two conflicting, if passionate, answers about the best dessert: Blackberry Mille Feuille and Salt Caramel and Hazelnut Chocolate Finger.

The former comes with three layers of crispy pastry in between which sit dainty dollops of cream and perfectly ripe blackberries. The sweetness of the former is offset by the tartness of the latter to provide a refreshing mélange of tastes. It’s faultless but my personal preference is the Chocolate Finger which staff gleefully, and quite understandably, describe as a ‘Posh Twix’. It’s served with Hazelnut ice cream and is certainly a large finger; the top layer is a viscous praline/mascarpone with a toffee which is more jelly in texture than caramel. The base is some kind of biscuit. It’s decadent and has been on the menu forever so is a definite crowd-pleaser. All in all, it’s been a perfect meal; sumptuous, with a few surprises and culinary twists.

Festive Options – What’s On Just Now

A special line-up of festive member events includes the club’s annual Christmas choir gatherings, enchanting Quartet by candlelight performances, creative sessions such as Christmas Wreath Making, and more. 

Festive Set Menu

  • Members and guests can indulge in an exquisite dining experience with Home House’s specially curated Festive Set Menu. The club’s executive chef Robert Panek has crafted a menu that captures the flavours of the season, featuring Christmas classics such as Roast Turkey with all the trimmings, and Christmas pudding with Brandy sauce. Bookings can be made for groups of up to 10 guests.

Christmas Staycations

  • For a truly special festive experience, both members and non-members can book a stay in one of the House’s opulent bedrooms or suites during the lead-up to Christmas, and on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The 23 bedrooms and suites at Home House, named after the house’s intriguing former residents and guests including Earl (Charles) Grey and Anthony Blunt, are luxuriously spacious and retain their 18th-century style of capaciousness.

Private Dining and Christmas Parties 

  • Ideal for private dinners and Christmas parties, Home House’s elegantly adorned spaces provide the perfect backdrop for both intimate gatherings and grand celebrations for up to 140 people. From festive lunches to late-night revelry in a private setting, both members and non-members can indulge in a meticulously crafted culinary experience, set amidst the club’s historic charm and impeccable service.

Festive Afternoon Tea

  • This winter, Home House is once again embracing the Christmas spirit by giving its traditional Afternoon Tea a festive twist. Served in the opulent surroundings of the Drawing Rooms, the Festive Afternoon Tea will be available from Friday to Sunday starting from Friday 17th November. Members and guests can delight in delicious finger sandwiches filled with festive flavours, Christmas sweets and freshly made scones from £45 per person, or £55 per person including a glass of Moët & Chandon Champagne.

Christmas Day Lunch

  • On Christmas Day, Home House invites members and guests to indulge in a sumptuous three-course lunch, complete with all the traditional trimmings, Christmas crackers, and delectable mince pies. Little ones can delight in a special encounter with Father Christmas. The festive feast is available to groups of 8 to 20 guests, priced at £95 per person including a glass of Champagne. 

The Winter Garden Lounge

  • During the colder months, Home House’s beloved garden undergoes a magical transformation into the Winter Garden Lounge, where members and guests are invited to revel in the cosy ambience and enjoy exquisite hot chocolates and signature cocktails. Home House will also be offering its renowned mulled wine, prepared from a secret recipe.

If you’re not a member, the only way to book a table at Home House restaurant is by booking one of twenty-three bedrooms and if you do this you’ll be guaranteed one of the most elegant and refined nights London currently boasts. 

Contact Details

Website: www.homehouse.co.uk
Address: 20 Portman Square, London W1H 6LW

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