Annabel’s Eternal: Looking Back and Forward at the Famed British Nightclub

 

The Beatles. The Queen. The Rolling Stones. It doesn’t get any more British than that. And it doesn’t get more British than Annabel’s, the world-famous nightclub and English institution that each of the British monuments above has frequented. Allegedly, it’s the only nightclub Her Majesty has ever visited; then again, when the club in question bears an instantaneously recognizable single name—much like “Jackie” or “Diana”—you know it’s worthy of the royal presence. 

After more than 50 years at the heart of London’s nightlife, during which Hollywood stars and royalty alike have descended under the striped canopy on Berkeley Square, there’s a new Annabel’s on the block. The club—still members-only—has finally opened the doors to its much-anticipated new home, just two doors down from its original address. This new Annabel’s has been reimagined in an 18th-century Grade-One-listed Georgian townhouse at 46 Berkeley Square. Spanning 26,000 square feet, the new venue occupies considerably more space than the original club. And, for the first time, Annabel’s is not just the haunt of night owls: it’s been reinstated as an all-day and all-night experience, with new and additional floors for members to work, dine, and entertain guests.Originally founded in 1963 by Mark Birley and named for his wife at the time, Lady Annabel Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Annabel’s has built a global reputation over the past five decades as perhaps the most elegant and private club in the world. Over the years, it has hosted a Who’s Who of the global elite. Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Tina Turner, Jack Nicholson, Diana Ross, Madonna, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Lady Gaga have all been here, and surely the roster of bold-faced names will continue to roll right into the future, especially in this swank new rendition, which was overseen by current owner Richard Caring, the clothing tycoon and force behind the proliferation of The Ivy restaurants. Membership to Annabel’s remains by invitation only, and the waiting list is still open.

Annabel’s at 46 Berkeley Square still offers the intimate nightclub environment members have always enjoyed, along with new spaces and services to cater to their needs. It houses four new restaurants, seven bars, two private dining rooms, and a cigar salon, spread across four spacious floors. Outside, on the terrace, an enchanting restaurant garden that seats up to 120 offers year-round dining. The nightclub is still below ground—it just wouldn’t feel the same having to ascend a set of stairs to enter in the wee hours—and pays homage to the decadence and excess of the original Annabel’s.Martin Brudnizki Design Studio (also responsible for The Ivy, Sexy Fish, and 34 Mayfair) has overseen the design of Annabel’s at 46 Berkeley Square, retaining the period features of the listed building. Inspired by the building’s garden and the greenery of Berkeley Square, the new Annabel’s was conceived with flora and fauna in mind, of course in an eclectic and playful manner. Each floor of the townhouse tells its own story based on various historically important gardens (picture green pleated-silk wall coverings in the reception area, for starters). At the heart of the building is the original cantilevered stone staircase, complete with a suspended Jules Verne–inspired hot air balloon with an accompanying sculpture of Pegasus, regally dressed in bespoke tassels and gold leaf. Brudnizki and his team have painstakingly restored other original features, including elaborate plaster ceilings and majestic fireplaces in the Rococo style.

The new Annabel’s is geared toward a new generation of members: never mind if your blood isn’t true blue or of aristocratic stock. If you’re an influencer, either ancien or arriviste, you’re more than welcome here, and you probably shouldn’t miss your chance at snapping a pic of the pink onyx basins and handmade silk flowers lining the ceiling in the ladies’ powder room on the second floor. It’s about as swell as you can get, and it’s probably the most photographed bathroom of the moment on social media. Who needs the paparazzi when you have Instagram? This is the new Annabel’s, after all.