When the Experimental Group opened its soigné speakeasy Experimental Cocktail Club in London’s Chinatown in 2010, it was at the vanguard of a “quiet bar” revolution in the capital. Now the group is branching out with the Chess Club, a members’ club in Mayfair centred around the cerebral board game.
Opening on February 6, the club is collaborating with Malcolm Pein, director of the London Chess Classic, to create an in-house grandmaster’s residency, and members can organise a lesson with a grandmaster or pop by for a game at any time in the upstairs bar. There will also be informal tournaments and exhibitions with the UK’s leading players.
“We wanted to offer something different in London,” says Pierre-Charles Cros, co-founder of the Experimental Group, which also owns 17 bars, restaurants and hotels around the world. Membership of Chess Club costs from £450 per year, and online applications are now open. “The terms will be as broad and democratic as possible – we are looking for individuals from all industries, people who make things happen.”
Jackson Boxer from Brunswick House will be in charge of the restaurant, with much of the food coming from his kitchen garden in West Sussex. Sommelier Julia Oudill will focus on smaller wine growers and interesting producers, and cocktails will also be a highlight, with some vintage spirits on the menu. The interiors are by Fran Hickman, with added flair from Francesca Zampi, co-founder of outré nightclub The Box.