Library Members Club was set up with London’s literary folk in mind in 2013 by Ronald Ndoro as a hub for creativity and innovation. Seven years later, in a progressive London environment, Library introduces a sister club – adjoined but independent – Arboretum. As the name might denote, it’s a ‘green’ club – in design and in mindset. Sustainability is embedded into its ethos – a members’ club designed for people who care about the planet – somewhere to connect with fellow innovators, to convene, create and collaborate.
Both Library and Arboretum, unlike many traditional members’ clubs, are not exclusive. Non-members can pay entry, book a table at the fine dining restaurant, St Luke’s Table, and stay in one of its six boutique hotel rooms. I’ll say, it’s an excellent spot for out-of-towners and business travellers to base themselves and take some cool respite from the central London circus. And its location is prime. Library sits right across from The Coliseum on St Martin’s Lane in London’s theatre district. Arboretum backs it, looking the opposite way to Trafalgar Square and the National Portrait Gallery.
‘Library offers those in the know everything books promised – drama enlightenment, escape, nourishment and more…’ There are five bars, including a whisky room and an underground speakeasy, Alice. The main area – the library-atrium – is an incredible room with a mezzanine and pitched glass ceiling. Armchairs are positioned for cosy reading corners or book clubs, and it’s also the main bar. It’s where regular events are held, be they talks, book launches, live music or parties; (My visit coincided with a Jamaica tourist office celebration – a perfect way to finish the night and a fine meal down at St Luke’s Table.) Whether it’s through the interior decor or its cocktail list, Library brings it all back to the club’s inspiration: literature. You can guess these classic cocktails from the author stage names: Umberto Eco, Ernest Hemingway, Carrie Bradshaw; Gabriel Garcia Marquez for your classic Margarita and Ian Fleming for your vesper martini.
“We are like trees; we must create new leaves, new directions, in order to grow.” The more modern Arboretum is dubbed by the club a ‘wellbeing space’, powered by plants. It’s a quiet, chilled out hub slap bang in the centre of London. Stressed out Londoners can find solace within its leafy walls and green ceiling, take energy from its plant-powered deli and take it down even further in a meditation pod. Menus are loaded with seasonal, locally sourced produce. Not only is it eco-driven, but its very nature (pun intended) is to increase productivity, concentration and wellbeing. As a roving freelancer, constantly moving around London’s cafes, work spaces and wifi hotspots, Arboretum is somewhere I’ll be using again when I have approaching deadlines or needing to meet someone central with a little table space. And of course it’s about networking and having a good drink at the end of a day. Until the end of November there is no joining fee, so it’s a good opportunity to go check it out.
As well as the plant-powered deli and The Hatch pizzeria, both clubs offer breakfast served until 3pm as well as a short pre-theatre menu from 5pm-7pm that includes sea bass on ink risotto and guinea fowl breast on white onion puree. Two courses are £27.50 and three are £35. Then there’s St Luke’s Table, the quiet fine dining option, hidden down in the depths of the clubs’ labyrinth. First, and best, thing to report from St Luke’s – an author of the gospel and saint of arts – is its wine. Its wine, and its sommelier Jean-Baptiste. We had a Californian Chardonnay from Spell Estate and it has to be one of the very best I’ve tasted. St Luke’s Table chooses its wine list from small artisan growers and specialist suppliers to maintain an ever-evolving list of ethical, organic and biodynamic wines from vineyards that promote an environmentally sustainable method of production. From the good selection, Jean-Baptiste advises the best for your menu.
Alongside the wine, was grilled asparagus, seared scallops with a nduja crust and truffle cauliflower puree for starters. For the most part, the menu features classic English dishes; always a treat, but so the prices make it, too, at £17 and £16. Monkfish wrapped in parma ham with samphire followed along with a venison fillet served with sweet potato velouté, crispy polenta and a thyme jus. Desserts at St Luke’s Table aren’t exactly modern-sophisticated – chocolate fondant, baked cheesecake, strawberry and basil panna cotta – but how refreshing it is. Puddings are, afterall, a gluttonous addition to any meal and in England especially we love them heavy, sweet and simple. In this traditional dining space and following what now might be considered a classic British menu, the desserts perfectly suit the restaurant’s vibe.
The Library – Arboretum club is a place to work, learn, play and relax. Library leads with a traditional club style while Arboretum brings the contemporary. Members include authors, designers, creatives, and the spaces reflect it. As London’s wintry days and nights continue to grow darker, both hubs are great spots in which to hole up or all-out party. There is a fitness suite and spa for annual members, for which you can be for a competitive club price. Membership is £1,100 for the first year (including joining fee), and renewal for the second year onwards costs £850. Under 30 annual members pay £700 for the first year and £450 for renewal. The club has recently launched a ‘social’ Library membership tier for London’s night owls and party animals from 6pm any night of the week for £700pa or £70 per month.