Even by 1890’s Mayfair standards our basements were unusually lavish and spacious with high ceilings, beautiful joinery and acres of French decorative tiling. Today, their survival in a virtually complete state coupled with their public use makes them unique in London.
There has long been a fascination with ‘below stairs’ and we are lucky in having been able to restore this previously unseen world, and enjoy many of the superb rooms created for the prized staff who were entrusted with the smooth running of a great Mayfair house.
These rooms all open onto a meandering tiled concourse, which happens to house the club’s ‘informal’ piano, an area which turns out to be a great place for pre-dinner drinks, a disruption which would doubtlessly have been shocking to the disciplinarian atmosphere below stairs a hundred years ago.
The Darwin Room
As the species are diverse so are the uses of this room.
For cards it comfortably accommodates 20 players, for drinks 50 and as a uniquely character full private dining room up to 30.
At an hour’s notice it can be transformed into an extremely slick screening room accommodating 28 in big leather chairs with drinks tables, and 50 on banqueting chairs. This arrangement works equally well for presentations and lectures, all of which are supported by specially designed sound, lighting and projection systems and air conditioning.
See photographs below.
The Small Meeting Room
Given the tacit understanding that business is never discussed in the Club, members have long lacked a secluded place where they might hold a casual meeting.
The reordering of the basement yielded just such a corner and the aptly named small meeting room, is now equipped with a computer and air-conditioning.
See photograph below.
Designed as much for beer and rugby as books and bridge, the Snug is a little haven tucked away from such troublesome intruders as daylight. You’ll find a big television, lots of books and huge leather armchairs ideal for sleeping off lunch.
There is a good sized table, a computer and the original bookshelves contain the other half of the library (the half which wasn’t written by members).
See photographs below.
The Old Pantry
Swaddled in panelling and sporting a massive marble credenza which once graced the Bar the Old Pantry seems comfortable with any use visited upon it.
With bright lights, projection equipment, computers and air conditioning it is a thoroughly business like meeting room, under softer light a luncheon room, and glowing under candlelight, a perfect supper room.
Photos of the Undercroft (click to enlarge):