From the outset, it commands attention; a behemoth of a complex in a street of otherwise uninspiring architecture. Upon entry, we are greeted by a sleek industrial aesthetic complete with exposed brickwork, steel girders and large floor to ceiling windows. Think emerald green upholstery, bare lightbulbs and staff with trousers rolled above their ankles. If we were to personify The Curtain, it would be Justin, the slick newcomer to town. The impeccably dressed entrepreneur at the hotel bar, who dons a pencil moustache and Macbook. Takes elongated sips of Talisker between conference calls to Sydney and Montreal. Perhaps you even know Justin? Perhaps you are a Justin? Either way, this rambunctious membership club in the heart of London’s most creative district will surely woo you into parting with your well-earned bangers and mash. But is it worth the £1,000 a year price tag? I had the gruelling job of investigating the matter.
Hotelier Michael Achenbaum is the mastermind behind Shoreditch’s latest membership club. He is, however, no newcomer to the membership game. With $1 billion worth of property under his belt, his impressive portfolio includes the distinctly exclusive Meatpacking District’s Ganseveroot Hotel in New York, where the likes of Rihanna check in on a regular basis. Though the phrase ‘membership club’ may remit antiquated connotations of yesteryear, I found The Curtain to be a breath of fresh air in this respect. I asked Jordan Ayoola, Head of Membership, to tell us about who and why we should consider applying.
“Creativity is at the very heart of what we offer, regardless of what industry you work in, and this is proudly reflected in our incredibly diverse membership base. We are a members club with a strong focus on inclusion and creating a sense of community; a space where innovation, social connections, and collaborations thrive. And we do this well. As part of our unique offering, we give our members access to an extensive events programme, from educational talks and wellness-focused events, to parties in our very own nightclub. The Curtain is also one of the few members clubs where guests can enjoy late night entertainment seven days a week, including secret gigs, DJs and acoustic performances by some of the music industry’s biggest names”
So it seems you don’t need to be chums with a Kardashian or the CEO of FTSE 100 firm to be admissible. My observation is that it offers patrons the opportunity to be part of a vibrant community of ambitious entrepreneurs, digital nomads and creative types who share the same ethos: a hunger to succeed and to do so tastefully.
A cutting-edge co-work space called The Design Studio accommodates those with a desire to work in architectural splendor. Inside, we are greeted by desk spaces that complement an array of comfortable seating areas, with more power points than a University library. Equally important is the boardroom that provides a space to present and conduct face to face meetings. You may decide to announce that new innovative product from the private, fully serviced screening room with leatherbound sofas and a 2AM license. The options are numerous and the appeal is quite frankly irresistible. The added benefit of being able to order your lunch or barista coffee direct to your desk, armchair or boardroom is, of course, a necessity that The Curtain has accounted for. How about a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel with gin & tonic infused cucumber, while you continue to deliberate which of the club’s restaurants you will be acquainting yourself with this evening?
The Lido is East London’s favorite pool touting, top floor restaurant with stellar views. First off, I should make you aware that the pool isn’t proportionate enough to start that Olympic training regime you announced to everyone at NYE. Whilst this may remain true, you should still pack your speedos. After battling the crowds at Harrods, retreating back and surrendering to a G&T in this rather exclusive pool, might make it one of London’s best-kept secrets. Did I mention that it’s heated? We enjoyed breakfast in The Lido each morning and found the sufficiently varied buffet to include all the regulars. Or, if you fancy something a little more distinct, you could try the green pea pancakes with spinach from the made to order menu. We found the coffee to be spectacular, the buffet to be perfectly adequate and the addition of a heated pool, highly desirable.
When it comes to whetting the palate, the unapologetically audacious Billy’s Bar comes with a letter of recommendation. Combining elements of old and new with unambiguous eloquence, it’s the ultimate space for the well-heeled to mingle, schmooze and kick back in. For a pretty penny vintage bottles of Dom Pérignon are on offer and the cocktail menu is not to be overlooked. Sharp service prevails. Contemporary pieces of art, such as an original Banksy, hang from the wood-paneled walls that propel the space into the 21st century. Another string of The Curtain’s bow is the critically-acclaimed soul-food hotspot, The Red Rooster, opened by Obama’s favorite celebrity chef, Marcus Samuelsson. It’s so good it got its own review in this issue. And, if you’re missing some home comforts, why don’t you waltz on over to The Imperial for what I hear is an unforgettable Sunday roast. One final unmissable course of action persists, the recently opened The Green Room is a sleek new cocktail bar adjacent to the hotel’s lobby. With street access and a late-night license that is open to the public, you can expect things to get wild in the evenings and members to get a considerable discount.
In addition to the facilities on offer to members, The Curtain includes a five-star hotel barraged with sharply decorated suites. Our fourth-floor stronghold was enveloped in exposed brickwork with leather-bound upholstery, custom made artworks and a street-facing floor to ceiling windows. One of my favorite features of the room was the spacious bathroom with double vanity. I had no complaints about the walk-in shower either which comfortably accommodated two. And, to sweeten the deal, with just one quick touch of the control panel the shower unit transposed into our own private steam room. This well-considered feature left us feeling both rejuvenated and poised for yet another day battling through London’s throngs of tourists. The Curtain accounted for all of our needs with such finesse, you might find yourself asking the same question that we did: why would you ever want to leave?