Londons new social season

Londons new social season

Catch them while you can – the hottest places to eat, drink and dance in the capital are elusive and exclusive, from rock-and-roll debauchery in Mayfair to eccentric dinner parties in Shoreditch.

This winter sees a flurry of exclusive new clubs and pop-ups for anyone who wants a classy alternative to the office festive party.

In Shoreditch, the best parties seem to be those where the venue is kept a secret until the very last minute. At Too Much this week, you can join the hipsters in the know for a warming, dinner-party-style meal around a shared dining table in the eclectic, decadent surroundings of 123, a great clothes and accessories shop at 123 Bethnal Green Road. Starting with canapes and cocktails in vintage teacups on the top floor, you work your way down a floor for every course. If nothing else, go there for inspiration if you’re considering a new look – the shop is open all evening, and there are some unusual stocking-fillers on the ground floor. Book at

Finally, Covent Garden Market has got somewhere decent to eat – at least for the next few days. In the old covered market itself, Canteen has a kind of Blitz spirit about it, with its fish ‘n’ chips, British cider, signs in Gils Sans and bunting in red, white and blue. It’s a good place to recharge in the middle of your Christmas shopping.

The Met Bar was once the most covetable ticket in town. Its strict members-and-hotel-guests-only policy kept its clientele truly A-list for years: royalty and rock royalty, YBAs and supermodels – non-members would check into a ?200 room at the Park Lane hotel just to get into the bar. Then it lost its cachet and you were lucky to see an Appleton sister. Now older and wiser, it recently relaunched after a ?1.4-million facelift, and this time it’s open to all.

Not so The Arts Club on Dover Street, which also reopened recently with a brand-new music venue, Club Nouveau, where Mark Ronson is director of music and the launch party was a whole rock-and-roll weekend long. Club Nouveau is strictly members-only, but if you book in advance you can visit The Arts Club on Wednesdays and Saturday mornings, if only to pretend you’ve been there with Ronnie Wood since the night before.

Also in Mayfair, 5 Hertford Street is tipped to open soon. A private venture by Robin Birley, it is apparently inspired by Annabel’s – which has managed to retain its prestige since the 1960s – and it’s not the only one. Opening on 1 November in the basement underneath Home House, private club The Vaults takes its inspiration from Annabel’s and Studio 54, with its anything-goes policy and nods to debauchery in the leather cladding and gold chainmail detailing.

BEST-KEPT SECRET London’s own outpost of Le Baron, the legendary nightclub created by Andre Saraiva that’s a big hit in Paris and New York so far, is coming soon. So hot that the details are still under wraps.

Find out where the best pop-up shops are for last-dash present-buying here.

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