It’s Friday afternoon and your editor is standing on the sun soaked deck of the newly refurbished Art Deco building just behind the Sea Life Centre by the pier. All around me are beautiful people who’ve look like they’ve been sent here by Central Casting. A young waiter comes up and smiles before handing me another free vodka and tonic. I didn’t have to tell him to hold the slice because he’d remembered. Obviously.
The Mighty Whistler is at the launch of Brighton Beach House, the latest branch of the Soho House chain. And it’s jumping. It’s busy, curiously so for a private club that isn’t actually open. It turns out London members were offered a day out by the seaside. Why not? Gives the place a bit of a vibe. And it does. The music’s playing, the sun’s blasting and these nice people keep coming round with trays of food and drink. Who said money doesn’t buy you the good things?
It’s really very nice. It’s Grade 2 listed Art Deco very nice. There’s bars, rooms, a banana shaped pool. Art from the Local Collection – made up of work from local artists – and the Brighton Beacon Collection – work from LGBTQ+ artists “and is a love letter to Brighton as a historical beacon city for the queer community”.
I would say you should pop in for a drink, but to do that you have to be a member and to be a member… Well, that’s £1200 a year plus a £500 registration fee (because obviously it costs a lot to registrate).
That might seem a lot just to go to a nice bar with posh sofas, but it’s not really that, is it. It’s £1700 to be able to – to misquote Groucho Marx – be a member of somewhere that wouldn’t have people like you as a member. (I know what Groucho really said, but this is probably more what members mean).
I’m trying to get to the – free, obvs – fish’n’chip stall, but there’s a bloke singing and there’s quite the crowd. Turns out it’s Sam who almost won Eurovision. It’s that kind of day.
I’m with The Mighty Whistler’s Food Editor and she asks – as she does – where the fish comes from. “No one’s asked me that before” says the chap serving. I’m guessing no one will again. Not today anyway. It’s free.
I bump into a few people I know.
“Are you a member here?”
“Yes, I joined. There are few places to go in Brighton where you can have a meeting, a decent cocktail and see nice people and each time of gone I’ve bumped into those”. Then she said “Also I like the fact that the interiors are all snuggly and like my mum’s house”. I wonder if you have to registrate at her mum’s house.
If you want to have somewhere to go in the centre of town that’s smart and stylish, look no more. If you want to have somewhere to go to have meetings that tell your client “Yes, I’m successful”, it’s undeniably that place too. It’s not cheap – £17 for a burger, £16 for a pizza – but I guess that’s the point.
It’s undeniably very nice – chic and stylish – and I really do love a posh sofa, but I’ve never been too sure about the whole member’s club schtick. I’m not I want that enforced exclusivity, not sure I want to pay the best part of two grand to keep people out. Maybe that makes me one of the people some people pay the best part of two grand to keep out. Who knows?
It’ll be interesting to see whether it flies here, interesting to see whether Brighton’s now a Soho House kinda place.
By the way, members can take three guests – and should you join and should you need someone for that onerous task…
https://www.sohohouse.com/houses/brighton-beach-house for more details