In the louche, limestone-swishy streets of Mayfair, where embassies, oh-so-private banks and fantastical members’ clubs sit cheek-by-jowl, there’s a new kid on the block. With its chequered floors, chandeliers and velvet boudoirs, it’s as though the Twenty Two lived through London’s top hat hedonism. But this dress code-free members’ club is as fancy-fresh as they come – riding the Mayfair Renaissance wave from global elite ghost town to the happening heart of London.
Where is it?
On a creamy, Portland stone corner of Grosvenor Square, The Twenty Two sits in the heart of caviar-laced Mayfair – an expensive maze of velveteen members’ clubs, pillared family offices and smart suitcase shops. Despite the abundance of Georgian symmetry, all around, change is afoot, from the Chancory Rosewood set to open in 2024 to the increasingly buzzy Mercato Mayfair along North Audley street.
There’s a wobbly consensus that Mayfair is finally getting its mojo back, having come dangerously close to an airport duty-free sterility — where mediocre restaurants’ prices were/are as inflated as its diners’ chops.
Fun, if not a little flamboyant, the Twenty Two’s high gloss coat, deftly assembled by Natalia Miyar, is tastefully overdone. A jewel box entrance hall (dimly lit by a low-slung chandelier as all dignified Mayfair members’ clubs should be) reads as a fancy something-century townhouse – just with an ebony and gold reception desk and sharply dressed doormen springing into action whenever a car rolls up or a guest scales the lantern-dotted staircase.
The restaurant is a whimsically fun and formal scene of duck egg blue panelling with mustard accents and traditional marble fireplaces. Similarly; the ground floor members’ space (also open to hotel guests) puts a subtly colourful-contemporary spin on the otherwise classical muralled panelling and chandelier scene Mayfairers have grown accustomed to.
All 31 rooms are slivers of lacquered decadence – expect coup d’oiel parquet floor carpets and brave, coquette-ish colours – filled with light by day and brooding with a faint amber glow by night. There are pubs-with-rooms and there are parties-with-rooms. The Twenty Two is the latter with its vast subterranean lair for glamorous (in the best sense of the word) dinner-and-dance nights.
Food & drink
Like anywhere in Mayfair, the Twenty Two’s restaurant draws in a varied (and invariably well-to-do) crowd. From American bon viveurs visiting ‘Europe’ to stiletto-clad Chelsea-residents relieved there’s finally a haunt worth dressing up for, the tribes all tuck under The Twenty Two’s white table cloths, their faces animated by candlelight against the powder-blue backdrop.
A twinkling, midnight-blue bar straddles the two dining rooms and keeps glamorous punters well-watered with a creative-classic cocktail menu. Amid all the velvet, mirrors, fringe and chunky fireplaces are saucer-like plates of British classics, none of which feel too fussy and some even dipping their toes in zeitgeisty waters (see polenta chips with aubergine ketchup or spiced cauliflower with green tahini). But here, with former Picture team’s Alan Christie and Colin Kelly at the helm, it’s all about the steak tartar, the cacio e pepe and the beef wellington; classics done exceedingly well and accompanied by the correct cutlery dance and sommelier fine-tuning. Don’t miss the bread and butter pudding whipped up from breakfast’s venoisserie leftovers – the crispy, caramelised antithesis of soggy school pudding nostalgia.
Think of The Twenty Two as a flamboyant host’s townhouse rather than your cookie cutter hotel. What it lacks for on the spa, pool or garden front it makes up for in its highly charged atmosphere, where a corker of a party could break out at any given moment. A spiral staircase in the lounge sends members and hotel guests into a subterranean, velvet dimension where a dance floor skims the dining room and a bar spills onto an outdoor terrace – hiding in plain sight below the immaculately tailored Mayfair hustle above. Katy Perry, Idris Elba and Cara Delevingne are among those who’ve succumbed to the Twenty Two’s plush dinner-and-dance appeal; one that doesn’t veer too far into gimmicky gilded maximalism territory – though the ultimate seal of approval came with Burberry’s London Fashion Week party, where Kanye gave a spontaneous performance.
Concierge will be only too happy to pull together a Mayfair itinerary for any guests: cocktails at Assouline, the latest gallery to know about, the ballet. But ultimately, central London is your oyster, whether a morning stroll through Green Park towards Buckingham Palace or a deep dive into Soho’s buzzy restaurant scene. The Twenty Two couldn’t be better placed for ambling through the city’s layered history via endless watering holes, cafes and museums, before scurrying back to the serenity of the members’ lounge with the weekend papers and a cup of tea.
Lavishly dressed in silk, velvet and Egyptian cotton linens, the hotel and members’ club’s 31 rooms are a far cry from the restrained Scandinavian sort or the abundant earthy-luxe design brief. They also cleverly eschew the wallpapered olde worlde look, opting instead for something decidedly more naughty – red lacquers, custom-made four poster and canopy beds with sketches of couples fornicating above them. The 18th century French fancy evokes a courtesan’s boudoir, where headboards are the same siren shade of red painted lips and nails and the stretch from the bed to the well-stocked mini bar is a soft one, with deep pile carpets underfoot.
And while this boudoir theme feels consistent across the board, variations include large Italianate terraces, elaborate bars, intricate Indian patterned wallpaper and Cobochon marble bathrooms filling out whatever corner, nook or cranny this historic building’s warren of rooms could offer up. Big spenders can check into the hotel’s own Mews House, with their own private entrance from the street and walls thick enough to withstand a good shindig.
A louche city staycation, where a martini-fuelled boogie is never far away and late morning pancakes provide recovery.
Doubles from £650 per night, the22.london