Monday, 29 September 2008

An hour at Annabel's

“Won’t Annabel mind us all turning up at hers?” asked my boyfriend on hearing the location of the after-party of his mother’s 50th birthday in Mayfair, which 40 of us were currently heading down the road towards.

It wasn’t until we reached a stairwell with two doormen outside, both dressed in green suits and hats, that he realized that Annabel’s was not his sister’s friend’s house, but actually an exclusive members' club in nearby Berkeley Square.

From 6:30pm I’d eaten only canapés and drunk champagne; so although things were already beginning to get a little bit hazy, there are parts of our short visit to Annabel’s that remain very clear indeed.

Annabel’s is one of those places where unless you’ve got a bloody good reason, you’re not getting in. And by reason, I mean either membership, status or money. And lots of it. Preferably all of the above, actually. We were in there because a favour had been pulled and even though they knew we were coming and there was plenty of room for our party, in true snotty club fashion, the staff were being difficult and rude. Eventually we were allowed down the opulently lit corridor where suited, balding men stood sipping whisky in bars either side, eyeing the females in our group. We went into the main room, an area packed with dark brown mahogany tables full of more suited, mostly unattractive middle aged men and their invariably blond, significantly more attractive partners, and I quickly realized exactly what sort of a place this was going to be. Very, very expensive.

As I followed some people down the middle of the low lit room, between the tables where people were tucking into food and wine on china plates and crystal glasses, I came to the empty dancefloor; an area about 5 ft by 5 ft with stars above and below, and little alcoves and sofas around the edge. Realising it wasn’t dancey dancey time yet, I headed back, passing about 4 waiters who glared at me as I walked past; not returning my polite smiles in their direction. The women at the tables were equally stony faced, looking me up and down when I met their eyes.

I felt out of place.

My boyfriend ordered some drinks, as we’d decided that even though it was bound to be pricey, this was undoubtedly a once in a lifetime place, so we’d have a drink then see what happened. After a minute, he turned around. “Guys, I think I might need some help with these drinks”; and he didn’t mean carrying them. A round of five drinks came to over £70.

After a while at the cramped bar area, we headed back down to the dance floor and joined the 20 or so others in our group who were dancing in front of the two grumpiest DJs I have ever seen; their job seemed to be to supervise the dance floor rather than entertain it, but nevertheless everyone was having a laugh and trying not to spill their equally expensive drinks.

It’s worth mentioning at this point that I was itching to take some photos; especially as it became more apparent that most of the other women in there were Russian high class call girls who were none too subtle in their dress sense or intentions. However, it was then I realised why there were never any photos of the A-list celebrity shenanigans that you read about in the gossip papers, as signs on the way in warned that anyone taking photographs would be removed from the club.

Whether it was the champagne or the surroundings, the next day it all seemed a bit surreal. A few of us had ended up leaving after about an hour because we fancied another drink but couldn’t afford one, so we left and, on the advice of the only friendly staff member I’d met, the green-clad doorman, we went over the road to Babble where the same round of drinks cost a much more welcoming £17.50.

Annabel's was a strange place. Maybe you have to be super rich, impossibly famous or a £500 a year member to understand the appeal and afford a smile from the staff, and since I am neither of those, it's hard for me to comprehend the lure of a darkened room that charges £30 for a glass of whisky, £5000 for a bottle of champagne, or £15 for a gin and tonic.

They say you can always judge a place by the state of the toilets, so here it goes: Small, dim, unfriendly, but perfectly furnished; and a great place to piss your money away.


Rol said...

£30 for a whisky? That's just evil. I wouldn't go there in principal, even if I was still a drinker.

The Unbearable Banishment said...

I learned long ago that once you get inside of places like that, you quickly realize that the secret they are trying to hide from the public is how monstrously dull and sad they are. They’re afraid that their superiority complex will be compromised.

Lynx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
arbyn said...

excellent conclusion

Lynx said...

From what I've heard, Annabel's has been going downhill for years, ever since they started to let mere "celebrities" in. They'd probably even let Jordan in nowadays.

My contacts in high society prefer Chinawhite, but I'm sure you'd still need a bank loan to get a round in. I prefer to stick to good old 'spoons!

(Reply deleted and re-posted to correct the grammar. Yes, I am that bad).

Anonymous said...

Crikey, will you be levying an entrance fee to read your blog, so that you can make back the extortionate price of the drinks?

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

rol - Evil and very profitable, I expect. Hand in hand...

unbearable - Oh completely. Everyone was so pleased with themselves for being allowed in and able to afford the drinks, I think they forgot to have a good time. Or look as though they were, anyway.

arbyn - Thank you :)

lynx - Tell me about it. Never mind Jordan, they let us common riff raff in! I mean most of us only had one home, two at a push...let alone one in every country! Never been to Chinawhites, always had it down as one of the celeb places aka a no go for me...

perpetual - My, what a good idea. £100 from every comment per day and I'd be able to afford a yearly membership to Annabels. Come on all, cough up!


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