Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Shoreditch Soho House on a sunny afternoon..

Exterior of Shoreditch Soho House

Last weekend I went to Shoreditch Soho House. When this opened in Shoreditch it was the final nail in the coffin for any impression that the area was still ‘bohemian’ or that particularly over-used soubriquet ‘edgy’. How can it be when the wealthy media types that are Soho House’s core constituency regard it as fashionable? That is not to say the area has been gentrified. I still had to hurl profanities at two complete strangers whilst walking through the place. It is a grotty bit of London and Commercial Road is a long way from Notting Hill. Shoreditch Soho House is in a large erstwhile industrial warehouse type building overlooking the Overground depot so not a particularly glamorous locale either.

However that being said I do get this outpost of Soho House. It is always a pleasure to visit Soho House in Soho as I am invariably in excellent company and find the staff, drinks and food good. However I am ambivalent about the clientele (my fault, probably just a bit too ‘old Soho’ around the edges). Also I never liked, apart from the mirrored bar area, the interior. Too dull and Conranesque for me. Never liked the combination of Georgian and mid-century styles which feel like a numbing down of 17th century flamboyance. I also feel it lacks the loucheness of other modern Soho Clubs. Soho House does not seem to feel so much like a club as an leisure amenity, members seem to know the staff but not each other.

Soho Shoreditch house is, I think, am attractive place. Not so much the roof side pool area. I think pools on roofs are a fantastic idea, and this one is nice as is the inspired concept of placing an open plan windowy bar beside it. However it was obviously a poseur’s paradise and the people around it looked a bit Eurotrashy. Still more pools and gardens on London roofs, please. It is a GOOD THING.


The Soho House Pool.

The floor below was more my cup of tea; runs the span of the building and includes a bar, a games room, a large rustic looking restaurant with pizza ovens and then another all-purpose room. This floor was a pleasure. The industrial elements, 30’s style squared utilitarian windows, concrete and exposed brick were set off with what can only be described as a rustic urban aesthetic. It worked well. The bar, set in a central Island and surrounded by seating and more windows had a touch of 70’s brutalist chic about it.

Seating in the 'Square Bar'.

The bearded one mentioned ‘airport lounge’ but in a good way. I really liked this room and we started off there, sadly we didn’t stay as some very industrial drilling on the floor below was disturbing us. Next to the bar is a games room, including a billiard table and working old school sit-down electric games console tables. These include, I was informed, Space Invaders! More points scored. Sadly it was overrun by small noisy kids so it wasn’t us scoring, although thankfully they are not allowed into bar areas and not a common occurrence. Still, a good space and a ‘clubby’ idea.

The Restaurant.

The restaurant is curiously woody, with a wall of green plants and flowers and long communal bench type tables. A wall of pale blue wood is nod to that mimsy distressed French rustic style that runs rampant across Sophie Dahl kitchens and overpriced boutiques throughout West London. I would have preferred to see the urban feel continued but perhaps that is what it takes to sell food to the chattering classes these days. It wasn’t busy when I was there but the pizza ovens built into brick walls were roaring away. We ended up in the final area, a kind of drawing room space full of large pink womb like sofas. A relaxing area but rather soporific: my friends were falling asleep. Mind you that could have been down to the quality of my scintillating conversation.

Womb-like big pink sofa room.

I genuinely liked the way Shoreditch Soho House looked, it had great views over London and distinctly different spaces. It is wonderful to see old industrial buildings turned into public and leisure spaces and the club had been designed with thought and attention. The elements I am not convinced by in the Soho branch work well in a building that is more adaptable, and as my friend pointed out less hampered by issues of planning permission. It was quiet when I went but I imagine that on a Friday night it has a lively buzzing feel. And whilst space invaders are welcome, bankers apparently are not. Which must make it a welcome haven in that area. I’d like to see it during an evening rather than on a warm slow summer Sunday afternoon. I’d still rather be a member of a small friendly boozy club or an old Pall Mall institution. However if I was more modern in my outlook the Shoreditch outpost would be the kind of place I’d enjoy spending some time in. I'm hoping for a pizza next time....

View of Games Room through well-stocked shelf wall.

M x

15 comments:

garofit said...

I have recently discovered your blog and been enjoying your articulate, clever writing, interesting themes and dry humor.
But "Eurotrash"? If one could dignify that expression with the name of concept, then it would be one to get one's teeth into. But no.

Fleur de Guerre said...

I have only been to Shoreditch House the once, it's alright, but only alright.

Garofit, not sure if you are offended by the term Eurotrash? It was a famous surreal TV show in the 90s presented by Antoine de Caunes, and the term is (usually) used affectionately.

RedlegsinSoho said...

Yes it was meant light heartedly, I'm grubby in my use of language and don't really mind being called narky names myself. No offence intended! x

garofit said...

Ok then, no offense taken!

Thanks for throwing some light on the origins of the term, Fleur, I'll look it up and perhaps it will make its use clearer to me; unfortunately on the occasions when I did hear it used it wasn't what I'd call affectionate. Meant as funny, yes, but not quite so when one's born the "wrong" side of the channel.

RedlegsinSoho said...

Ah, but we Brits are Europeans too!
x

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