West London’s resurgence as a hub for creative entrepreneurs continues with the former BBC HQ reborn as a cool private members’ club.
Do not adjust your set, exciting things ARE happening at the former BBC Television Centre. That’s because Soho House founder and chief executive Nick Jones has just launched his boldest project to date at the iconic building with the opening of White City House, a members’ club, hotel and creative hub.
Located within the famous Graham Dawbarn-designed Grade II-listed central ring, which first opened its doors in 1960, this long-awaited new offering from entrepreneur Nick Jones boasts seven floors of private and public space. It’s already being hailed as the beacon of West London’s resurgence.
Step into style
The arrival of White City House – launched with no fewer than three nights of opening parties for the music, art and film crowds – looks set to herald the birth of a new creative scene as the balance of the capital’s cultural cool shifts from Shoreditch in the east.
THE STAND went along on opening day for a tour and was suitably impressed. Pitched as an entire lifestyle club for entrepreneurs, international jet-setters and creative leaders, White City House offers two floors of club space for members, a rooftop pool and bar, a two-screen cinema, a private screening room, a spa, a 24,000-square-foot gym and 45 guest rooms.
Throughout, thoughtful design touches evoke memories of classic BBC shows
The interior décor is in keeping with the building’s modernist architecture of the 1950s and ’60s. The rooms, bars and restaurants are furnished with mid-century tables, lamps and chairs; for inspiration, Soho House designers watched early James Bond films and episodes of Mad Men. Throughout, thoughtful design touches evoke memories of classic BBC shows that will be familiar to guests: a rug by a billiard table is based on the colourful palette of the Test Card, while the circular pattern in the lifts echoes the interior of Doctor Who’s Tardis and looked pretty ‘Dalekesque’ to us.
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Occupying the second and third floors of the old Helios building – once fondly described as ‘the donut’ by BBC staff – the hotel’s 45 rooms range in size from Tiny to Large, with Tiny ideal for solo crash-padding and Small a decent size for a couple. The rooms are fitted with George Nelson lamps, Terrazzo tables and reading lights, while some mirrors are edged with bulbs in a nod to BBC dressing rooms. The bathrooms have a full range of products by Cowshed, the Soho House group’s own beauty brand.
Carrying on the legacy
In the basement of the Helios building is Soho House’s largest gym, with state-of-the-art cardio and free weights equipment, and four studios for yoga and high-intensity interval training. There’s also a 17-metre swimming pool, plus a steam room, hammam, sauna and a juice bar. The ninth floor is the members’ area. It has two bars and a large open kitchen offering an East-meets-West menu that includes everything from Asian-inspired food and drink like dim sum to a pizza oven.
Spaces on this floor can be arranged to accommodate all kinds of events, and White City House promises to make the most of its BBC legacy by working with a number of well-known names, music acts, industry leaders and guest speakers on bespoke presentations and workshops. Meanwhile, for non-members, the latest branch of Soho House’s Electric Cinema has been installed in the basement. The ground floor eatery and bar, The Allis, is also open to the public for all-day dining.
Creativity goes west
With the launch last year in London of Soho House’s The Ned catering for the City crowd, it’s hoped White City will attract young cosmopolitan creatives for networking and recreation. Accordingly, gatekeepers on the membership committee include youthful entrepreneurs who have carved out their own niche in their respective fields, such as SBTV’s Jamal Edwards, Wonderland editor-in-chief Toni-Blaze Ibekwe and menswear designer Charlie Casely-Hayford.
The promise of Crossrail is already having a positive effect on property along this stretch of its route in West London. The presence of White City House can only add to the area’s growing desirability. And it’s worth noting from an international perspective that Heathrow airport is reachable in just 25 minutes. “That whole Crossrail section has had a very positive effect on house prices,” says Investec Private Bank Business Development Manager Peter Izard, “and I think this will continue because once the line is operational people will see the benefits.”