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Feature: ‘The Concierge Club’



Ladies and Gentlemen - there’s a new club in town. Not one, but five boutique hotels launch themselves as a home for the arts – their connection? The Concierge Club – a new hub for those in the cultural know, and their like-minded pals. Jamie McLaren takes a closer look.

SAVVY STUFF

People like a little privilege, to be one step ahead, to be in a league with the well heeled. A touch of class, not necessarily financial or social – but cultural, dear, is what they want. You may wince or whimper (like a pleb might) at such a notion of status, or you may empathise wholeheartedly (go getter, ‘Alpha’ type) at the ideal of a jolly good caper with fine company. If you swing hard toward the latter, you’ll be delighted to hear a cultural concierge is at your service…

Savvy entrepreneur Johnny Sandelson created GuestInvest and Guest Hotels in 2003, the UK’s first hotel where you can actually buy a room. You’ll know the slogan: ‘earn money while others sleep’. The initial prototype was a massive success, and now the scheme is expanding – with a delightful twist. By summer 2009 he will have five hotels each with it’s own exclusive arts space hosting regular events for the members of his new club – The Concierge Club. Nice. Lets cut to the chase – for all you arty types, here’re five new venues to get your work to, and for all you art lovers and performance goers – here’s something fresh and pretty darn sexy. The Chiswell (Barbican) opens next summer, The Jones (Bayswater) opens this September, and The Nest (Bayswater), Blakes (South Kensington) and Guest House West (Westbourne Grove) are already open.



SHOWTIME

Bringing it all together is Iram Quraishi, formerly Head of Creative Networks at the ICA, and now curator of Guest Hotels. Each ‘venue’ with it’s own ambience (from louche Victorian splendour to gorgeous Gregorian panelling), has a genre to present. Expect photographic exhibitions, belle époque theatricality, art, sculpture, live music, DJs, dance, opera, comedy, literature nights and even auction events. Iram has also invited guest curators to present specific exhibitions. To coincide with the London Design Festival is the exhibition Menagerie curated by Marcus Fairs and Rupinder Bhogal with work from the Swedish collective Front, leading Dutch designer Hella Jongerius and young London based designer Julia Lohmann. Also expect something special in connection with Frieze. Other creative types who are involved include DJ Nick Luscombe (X-fm, ICA, Big Chill), Italo-Pop duo Heartbreak (Lex Records), frenetic Balkan instrumentalists Mukka, author and wit Jessica Fellowes, beatboxer Shlomo, artist and filmmaker Maria Marshall plus a whole lot more. There are plans for artist residencies, and even to initiate an artist-mentoring scheme.

SLEEPING PARTNER

The club are also developing relationships with what they call ‘Sleeping Partners’ – namely arts organisations who’ll extend invitations to their VIP events to the members of The Concierge Club. They’re currently in bed with the ICA, V&A, Tate, Photographer’s Gallery, Gate Theatre, and the Architecture Foundation. Sounds like a party! Bottom line time – this is a members only club, with access to three venues (soon five) each hosting a variety of high-end cultural activity, as well as access to the ‘Sleeping Partners’. If you’re among the founding members (first 1’000) you’ll pay £180 (will be £240) for a years membership – a pinch compared to the Groucho (£550) or Shoreditch House (£700). You’ll also have priority booking at the hotel restaurants that are managed by Oliver Peyton (The Wallace Restaurant, National Dining Rooms, Inn The Park), and off course you’ll be offered a complimentary room free of charge for a night, although one suspects this might be a little more than a one night stand. With this being a ballsy marriage between enterprising business and the creative industries, it might appeal to the ‘Player’ within the gutsy, playful culture seeker out there. If that’s you – chin chin! Let’s see what they pull out of the bag…


To find out more about The Concierge Club, contact Jonathan Weinberg on 020 7747 6887 or email him at concierge@guesthotels.com or check out the website: http://www.guesthotels.com


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COMPETITION: 1x Membership to the Club Concierge for one year (details below for what this means).

To claim your tickets, send an email with the correct answer in the ‘subject’ box. The winner will be randomly selected.

Q: From one of the many events due to be presented as part of the Concierge Club, there is an exhibition featuring work from design collective 'Front'. Where is this all women collective from?

A: 1) Iceland .2) Iraq .3) Sweden .4) Scotland

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What you get from Concierge Club membership:

• Access to exclusive 'closed door' cultural events in their five Hotel locations throughout London.

• Special invitations to private views and exhibitions at arts venues in London, including the ICA, the V&A, the Tate, the Architecture Foundation and many others - their list of partners is growing...

• Free entry to an ever-expanding list of galleries and museums.

• An annual Summer Party to rival the best parties in the capital.

• Members' events and behind the scenes tours, including Borough Market, Brick Lane, Camden Pub crawls and Mayfair nights.

• Concierge Club Membership card and newsletter our members receive regular updates on what is happening at each hotel venue, and what partner offers are available.

• ...And if you are one of their first 1,000 founder members, a complimentary 1st night's stay at a Guest Hotel.