Five stars are not enough to award the new South Kensington Club; three adjoining townhouses, once the family home of Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood and the studio of artist Francis Bacon, have morphed into the capital’s poshest gymspaclub. Luca Del Bono, arguably London’s most dashing and top luxury lifestyle entrepreneur, waved his magic Sicilian wand and a new Lifestyle club was born. The integration of healthy treatments, exercise and socialising is trending with millennials in the Kensington and Chelsea boroughs. The club is situated between Queens Gate School for girls and the French Lycee and so far it is attracting a very Euro membership, British, French, Italian and Americans, a 50/50 balance of men to women and Marketing Director Antonia Plunkett intends to keep it that way. Members do not have to be referred or seconded, “it’s not who you know but who you are that counts” says Antonia, there is a membership selection committee who follow a criteria and if in doubt about an applicant they ask themselves “would we like to share a banya with that person?”. Banya is Russian for sauna, Russians are barmy about daily banyas and massage, there are many stylish banya’s at the SKC, small private ones for members and a special entrance for non-members to banya by arrangement, plus a large traditional Hammam.
The gym has the finest gym view in London or you can watch a NetFlick whilst on the running machine, vintage photographs of muscle men performing gymnastics on Venice Beach in California decorate the walls. The decoration everywhere is contemporarily clubby, mostly the decoration and styling ideas of an in-house team, there are multi-cultural references everywhere, marble from Brazil, oak wood from Montana, volcanic stone from Mount Etna but overall the emphasis is on comfort.
Exercise and fitness feature strongly with daily dance, boxing, yoga and pilates classes but equally important is the relaxation and social life that follow, lovely libraries, chill-out rooms and bars are strategically placed; the restaurant has white Sicilian fish scales tiles on the floor and an original wall painting cartoon of an Aeolian God blowing lemons and prickly pears into the wind. With all around WiFi some members find the spaces wonderful places to work on their laptops.
There is a membership selection committee who follow a criteria and if in doubt about an applicant they ask themselves “would we like to share a banya with that person?”. Banya is Russian for sauna, Russians are barmy about daily banyas and massage, there are many stylish banya’s at the SKC.
The Watsu pool (shiatsu under water massage), a 6×5 metre tilting pool filled with 20 tons of Aeolian salty sea water trucked across Europe, epitomises Del Bono’s love for his homeland and his personal spirit of adventure.
Exercise for the mind is catered for in collaboration with Christina Franco, likely to be the first woman explorer to reach the North Pole solo next year, SKC “Voyager Programme” is a series of monthly lectures by extreme athletes cum explorers designed to inspire members to push their boundaries, open their minds, do something different and join one of SKC’s own brand of adventurous trips.
SKC have international partnerships in Budapest, Paris, Rio, Buenos Aires with Madrid, Athens, Hong Kong and Shanghai in the pipeline and overseas members get the benefit of a significant discount at Blakes Hotel.