Date: May 2018
Location: White City, West London, UK
Name: White City House – opened this week
No. of Keys: 45 plus member’s club and rooftop pool.
Previous owner: BBC
Now: Nick Jones the founder and chief executive of the Soho House group. He doesn’t hang about — White City, which opens fully today in the former BBC TV Centre, is his 19th club and within weeks he will open his 20th, in Brooklyn, followed by outposts in Amsterdam, Mumbai and Hong Kong, adding to an empire that already stretches from New York to Istanbul, Berlin to Barcelona.
Going forward, the plan is to open three or four new properties a year in North America, Europe and Asia.
Meet Nick Jones: The pot washer turned Soho House clubs tycoon Indeed, from small beginnings in cramped Georgian premises at 40 Greek Street in 1995 — a place for London’s well-heeled creative community to booze, schmooze and snog after the pubs closed — Soho House, with London in its DNA, has developed an all-embracing live-work-play-sleep concept, and sold it to the world.
“There has been a social and economic change which I think originated in London,” says Peter Chipchase, the company’s chief communications and strategy officer. “People are looking at the nine-to-five, corporate way of life and rejecting it. They want more flexibility — maybe working three days a week for an ad agency then two days a week on their own project.
“Because of that journey we have created not a lifestyle brand but a way of living for our members, morning, noon and night, an amalgamation of work time and personal time.”
The original House had a screening room which put on movies for members as well as industry screenings: this has spiralled into a programme of events, classes and online content.
As the empire has grown, new Houses have included Cowshed spas, barbershops and hair salons, and of course swimming pools and gyms (the one at White City covers 21,000 sq ft and includes a second pool and a hammam).
American billionaire Ron Burkle owns 60 per cent of the business, Richard Caring 30 per cent and Jones 10 per cent.
Each new House has its own membership committee and its own look, so it feels local and special, but in each one now you will see people tapping away on laptops in between sipping cocktails or dipping into a pool…where there is one and White City has a rooftop pool.
You will see conversations and romances start, watch meetings spill from a private room into the restaurant. You’ll see big groups having loud, vigorous fun and you may not notice those who go there because Soho House still offers privacy (Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had an early date there).
The company has opened another House in Soho at 76 Dean Street, plus the slightly semi-detached Dean St Townhouse hotel. In 2015, it opened a second rural property, Soho Farmhouse, in Oxfordshire, and last year Jones created The Ned, a magnificent stand-alone club and hotel in Edwin Lutyens’ 1929 HSBC headquarters in the City, in partnership with the American Sydell Group.
THPT Comment: The hotel industry has it’s real innovators such as Charles Forte, Sebastien Bazin, Isadore Sharp, Ian Schrager, Steve Wynn, Robin Hutson, Adrian Zecha to name but a few…Nick Jones is certainly up there amongst them.
Not everyone can get Prince Charles to open one’s hotel!
First Seen: The London Evening Standard