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July 22, 2008updated Feb 08, 2013

Home House – British Heritage Meets Internationally Acclaimed Design

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

Home House, London’s most exclusive Private Members Club, celebrates the opening of ‘21’ – an exciting contemporary addition to its classical 18th Century premises at Nº 20 Portman Square, W1.

Located in a grand Georgian town house, Home House offers its members the dramatic fusion of the old and the new. Home House is now three houses in one: 19, 20 and 21 Portman Square and encompasses one of London’s most important historical buildings. Designed by James Wyatt in 1773, with Robert Adam interiors, the elegance and grandeur of the Club has been brought up to date with cutting-edge minimalist interiors at ‘21’ with an edgy bar and reception area, designed by internationally renowned architect, Zaha Hadid .

“We first opened the doors of Home House to our members ten years ago and are thrilled to be launching ‘21’, adding a whole new dimension to the Home House experience,” says Andrew Richardson, General Manger. “With the launch of contemporary ‘21’, we are offering members a modern take on Home House, where 18th Century British heritage meets internationally acclaimed 21st Century design.”

In 1775, architect Robert Adam designed an extraordinary cantilever staircase for Home House, confirming the House as one of the design icons of its time. The Zaha bar is set to have the same iconic effect in 2008, where the boundaries of architecture and design are showcased in London’s most exclusive private members’ club.

Home House is a unique Club, bringing together people of all cultures in a vibrant melting pot, where members come to the House to meet friends, network and relax. The House offers members a community; a hub from which to base both their social and professional life.

Home House – The History

In 1773, George III’s architect, James Wyatt, was commissioned by Elizabeth, Countess of Home, to build a sophisticated ‘Pavilion’ designed purely for enjoyment and entertainment, at Nº 20, Portman Square.

The notorious Countess, aptly known as ‘The Queen of Hell’, was in her late 60’s, twice widowed, childless and rich. She had been born in Jamaica, married the son of the Governor of Jamaica and inherited a large fortune when he died. She came to England and married William, 8th Earl of Home in 1742, who deserted her shortly thereafter.

In 1775, Wyatt was sacked from the Home House project and his competitor Robert Adam, one of the most celebrated architects of his day, was appointed to complete the House in the sumptuous Neo-Classical style. Home House is acknowledged as Robert Adam’s finest surviving London town house. The interior is conceived as a series of grand Reception rooms, beginning with a typically austere hall, leading to one of the most breathtaking “tour de forces” in European architecture; Adam’s Imperial staircase, which rises through the entire height of the house to a glass dome, revealing the sky above.

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On the ground floor are the eating rooms, decorated with symbolic paintings of banquets and the harvest by Zucchi, the husband of artist Angelica Kauffman, which lead onto the gardens. On the first floor are located the Ante-room, the Music Room and the Great Drawing Room and finally, one of the most original rooms in England, the Countess’s Etruscan State Bedroom, whose pagan decorations derive from the excavations of Pompeii.

The House was left to the Countess’s nephew on her death and was then used as a residence by, amongst others, the French Ambassador, the Dukes of Atholl and Newcastle, as well as Earl Grey (of tea fame). From 1932, for almost sixty years, Home House was leased to the Courtauld Institute of Art, whose director between 1947 and 1974 was the art historian, Master of the Queen’s Pictures and infamous spy, Anthony Blunt. It was in his rooms, on the top floor of the House, that Philby, Burgess and Maclean mingled with academics, politicians and members of the Establishment, whilst a secret listening device was apparently concealed by MI5, in the connecting wall between Nº 20 and Nº 21 Portman Square.

From 1989 – 1996, Home House was vacant and included on the World Monuments Watch List of 100 most endangered sites. Rescued by Berkley Adam Ltd in 1996, Home House was meticulously restored to its former glory and acquired in 2004 by a small group of private investors, Quintillion UK Limited. The Club took over James Wyatt-designed buildings at 19 and 20 and, most recently, 21. Their vision is the fusion of the old with the new; merging the grandeur and glamour of the existing buildings at 19 and 20, with the modernity and excitement of newly-refurbished 21. The result is an exciting and exclusive Club, rooted in the 18th Century and alive and vibrant in the 21st.

Home House – The People

One of the strengths that make Home House such a successful Club, with a world class reputation, is its attentive and friendly staff. Made up of a team of professionals, whose priorities are attention to detail and excellent personal service, Home House members feel affectionately about those involved in the day-to-day running of the House, including:

General Manager, Andrew Richardson

Andrew began his early career as Chef de Partie and Sous Chef, which included roles at The Dorchester Park Lane and The Hilton, Paris. After many years working at restaurants including the Billesley Manor Hotel and The Royal Berkshire Hotel, Andrew moved into the commercial side of the business, which took Andrew overseas to Hong Kong where he managed a portfolio of renowned restaurants at Managing Director level.

Andrew has recently joined Home House after ten years in Hong Kong where he will utilise his flair and vision for creating an environment in which people can enjoy themselves. Andrew’s vision for The House is to build on the ‘Palace of Pleasure’ principle ensuring a fantastic calendar of member events, great parties and a first class service for members and guests.

Head Chef, Robert Reid

Robert has had a love of food since the age of 17 and by the age of 20 he had already won the Junior Chef of the Year Award twice. Robert’s passion for French food has seen him working under Michelin 3 Star Chef, Roger Verge and Marco Pierre White where he spent almost a decade working within White’s empire.

Robert has been at Home House since 2004 and says “Working within a private club you get honest feedback from the members, so we are always able to improve our standards and understand what the members do and don’t like. Working in a hotel is like a one night stand, working at Home House is a relationship”.

Head Sommelier, Nicolas Pierron

Nicolas joined Home House in 2006 and his love and passion for wine is evident in the superb variety of wines in The House’s cellar now reaching 450. Nicolas has built up a great rapport with small growers in France and in other world regions which allows him to source unusual and often unique vintages on offer at The House.

He firmly believes that his role is to marry not just a particular wine to a dish but to understand member’s wine tastes and grape varieties. He offers members private cellar consulting which is a treasured service by members at the House as well as hosting a range of entertaining events such as Wine Bingo, Wine Makers Dinner and Champagne Master-Class which always attracts an enthusiastic and eclectic crowd.

Personal Trainer, Jonathon Goodair

Jonathon’s approach to health and fitness is unrivalled – Jonathan and his team of personal trainers offer Home House members their very own health and wellbeing team dedicated to achieving their individual goals – whether it be weight loss or improved physical performance.

Jonathon has been training members at Home House for ten years and his career has included working with football clubs, high profile sports people as well as celebrities. Jonathan’s approach goes way beyond prescribing endless stomach crunches or bicep curls in order to get into shape. For each client Jonathon prescribes the ‘Total Body Plan‰’, which is, an entirely bespoke programme based on whole body conditioning including a combination of Pilates based training and cardio fitness.

It is a lifestyle-focussed, fully integrated approach – and as members are more than happy to testify – it works. Jonathon and his team are committed to helping each individual attain their highest fitness and wellbeing goals with energy and passion.

Home House – Member Events and Services

As London’s most exclusive Private Members’ Club, Home House organises fabulous parties and events in all areas of the building. The House is a glamorous venue for any type of celebration, be it a gathering of close friends in one of the grand dining rooms, or a wedding in the garden; one of London’s best-kept secrets, right in the heart of town.

A raft of exciting social events is organised on a regular basis, from sumptuous ‘Indian Summer’ or ebullient ‘From Russia with Love’ members’ parties, to Poetry Society evenings and adventures with the Home House Yachting Society. With members also being encouraged to suggest new ideas for social clubs and events, the range has expanded to include:

* Fencing Society
* Fine Wine Nights
* Pétanque
* Wine Bingo
* Quiz Nites
* Backgammon
* Style Society
* Home House Book Club
* Creative Writing
* Art Society

Home House – The Rooms

Drawing Rooms

The Drawing Rooms in the House offer members and their guests the perfect space to work, rest and play. Climb the Grand Staircase to this collection of interconnecting rooms overlooking Portman Square and the garden and members can admire works of art, in their sumptuous Neo-Classical interiors. Antique crystal chandeliers hang from handcrafted ceilings, casting light over the rich oriental rugs and pastel walls.

The Bison Bar

The Bison Bar, named after the beast above the door, with its sumptuous leather Chesterfields and deep red walls, creates an intimate atmosphere. The plasma screens above the bar keep members in touch with music, news and sport – a clever mix of the traditional and contemporary.

The Restaurant

Offering an A La Carte Menu, together with a Du Jour Menu, the restaurant enjoys wonderful airy views overlooking Portman Square and seats up to 80 guests. With a relaxed dress code and discretion between tables, the restaurant offers members and their guests the perfect place to experience Fine Dining in luxurious, yet informal surroundings.

The Gym & Spa

The Gym and Spa at Home House is one of London’s premier boutique health and fitness destinations. With an exclusive set of member-only clients it is unlike other private gyms and provides a true haven for those seeking to attain all-round health and wellbeing.

Set within the most unique of surroundings, the gym and spa is integrated into the Grade I listed Robert Adam building, which creates a work out environment like no other. The Gym is undergoing a major transformation where the modern and contemporary style of 21 will be apparent in the new gym offering. The natural and neutral colours of its interiors will provide an intimate setting for members wanting to do everything from managing their weight, make strength and fitness gains to enjoying relaxing treatments in the spa.

Members can indulge themselves in the luxury of a mosaic plunge pool and an invigorating eucalyptus steam room or sauna. Members can also enjoy the individual attention of one of Jonathan Goodair’s personal trainers who deliver high quality, bespoke training programmes to suit all levels of fitness and ability. The Club’s high-tech gymnasium boasts state of the art facilities, including:

-Latest in functional movement training, Technogym Kensis Walls
-Core stability and strength focused Powerplate machine
-Boxing and pad work room
-Pilates, yoga and body conditioning studio
-Air-conditioned environment

To complement the exercise programme, a range of indulgent treatments will take place in one of the two beautifully designed treatment rooms. State of the art, relaxing treatments will be offered when the Spa opens its doors in September including massage, facials and full body treatments.

For ladies who lunch, quick-fix treatments are available including the professional blow dry service as well as manicure and pedicures using the latest innovations in nail care. Ladies can pamper themselves after a morning of shopping ready for lunch with their girlfriends or for that special evening occasion.

The Bedrooms

Home House offers 20 luxury bedrooms, two of which can be opened up and turned into a two-bedroom apartment. The bedrooms boast original 18th Century features, including the Anthony Blunt room.

The Future: 21

Interior by Zaha Hadid

With the expansion into Nº 21 Portman Square, British heritage is truly meeting internationally acclaimed design at Home House. Zaha Hadid, the world’s most acclaimed female architect, has designed a minimalist contemporary bar area in 21. She has used her fluid approach to design and trademark organic forms to create an edgy 21st Century interior, inside a neo-Classical 18th Century building. The fusion of the old and the new has given a modern take on Home House.

The expansion will also boast two new boutique styled bedrooms, which can be opened up and turned into a two-bedroom apartment, a Board Room as well as a fantastic Spa with products and treatments from This Works and The Refinery.

21 is set to become an icon for 21st Century international design, housed in the best of traditional British architecture. Members will be able to enjoy the contrasting yet complimentary ambiance of 20 and 21 where old meets new in the most interesting of ways.

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