Valentine's Day, Every Day - Spear's Magazine

Valentine’s Day, Every Day

Nick Valentine knows how to create London’s best clubs: mystery, flair – and peacock feathers? Venetia Clarke meets the man behind Molton House

Nick Valentine knows how to create London’s best clubs: mystery, flair – and peacock feathers? Venetia Clarke meets the man behind Molton House

It’s minus one outside, a Wednesday evening and it’s midnight – three reasons why I should have been in bed and not standing in the street playing rock, paper, scissors with a man I had met only two days before.

As the smoke curled above our heads from Nick Valentine’s cigarette we roared with laughter – ‘I started going out in ’81, so in the last twenty or thirty years I’ve seen everything.’

Once you’ve met Nick you understand that this is not an exaggeration. The man has thrown some legendary parties; it was Nick that Oasis turned to, to hold their Brits after-party in 2007, the year they won the Lifetime Achievement Award.

These days Valentine is the mastermind behind London’s hangout of the moment, Molton House. Having cut his teeth at Cuckoo, Nick now calls the London townhouse on South Molton Street his baby, a true labour of love. ‘The investors had bought the site but didn’t really know what to do with it, so they gave me a call, I came down and did the deal pretty much on the spot.’

Molton House, a converted four storey Georgian building, finds itself somewhere between Soho House and Cuckoo, trendier than Soho House yet more sophisticated than Cuckoo. The members club boasts a lounge bar, restaurant, private dining area and a night club in the basement.

Nick explains: ‘You don’t actually have to leave, we open at five so you can come and have post-work, post-shopping, post-whatever cocktails and take it from there.’ The membership committee reads like the latest edition of Who’s Who, including Helena Christensen, Jemma Kidd, Andy Wong, Ben Elliot, Lord Charles Spencer Churchill, Fritz Von Westonholz and Stephen Webster. ‘I think essentially, you’ve got to create a place that you want to go to and hope that other people have the same taste.’

Having started Cuckoo from scratch and made it one of the most successful and exclusive nightclubs in London it is clear that Valentine has a natural ability to tap into trends before they even happen. As you slip inside the club and into its keyhole entrance hall, the worries of the outside credit crunched world are checked in with your coat. ‘The keyhole reflects a secret look into a slightly fantastical, saucy world,’ Nick says, with a suitable air of mystery.

Climbing the stairs (and there are many) to the top of the house you find a floor designed for private dining, with one room whose walls are upholstered like a woman’s corset. Feathers and twinkling lights abound. Nick says ‘I’m a straight man with gay tastes,’ and unabashedly takes credit for all the peacock feathers.

The main private dining room is muted compared to the rest of the club with a large oval mahogany table and plasma screen television especially for corporate meetings. To create the look of the club, he collaborated with old partners Blacksheep who were also responsible for the decadent feel of the Cuckoo Club. ‘I’m a huge Elvis fan so there’s definitely a Vegas feel,’ Nick tells me as we walk down the stairs to the fourth floor.

This is hard to believe as he shows me the elegant thirty-cover restaurant split over two rooms, however, as I enter the second restaurant you couldn’t miss it. Giant Cobra sofas are decked out in faux ostrich and snakeskin.

Descend more stairs and you come to the sumptuous lounge bar, where you also find the sunken Peacock DJ booth, one of Nick’s favourite features in the club. Erring on the side of neurotically superstitious, my eyes widened in fear at the fan of genuine peacock feathers.

‘Oh, I know but it’s fine because actually, not many people know that although one peacock feather is bad, a whole bunch is actually very good luck.’ Judging from the club’s opening night, Valentine does not need to worry about luck when it comes to luring London’s glitterati into his world. Bright young things, celebrities and the London old guard all descended voraciously on the club’s opening night, where it took an Herculean effort to fight your way to the bar.

Down in the basement of the house is a dance floor with a mirrored ceiling which dominates the room, with the bar set at the side, deftly taking out the worry of an enthusiastic flailing arm knocking the drink that you just bought out of your hand. Everything has been thought out to the nth degree, from the décor to retro drinks that Andraos Tsanos, the bar manager, has carefully created.

‘The whole idea is vintage, forgotten classics with a twist.’ Having managed the bars at Momo’s Hakkasan and Sketch, Tsanos has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to cocktails and their history. ‘I like educating people on the classics so there are a lot of Flips and Punches… and everything is started from fresh.’

The club’s chef hails from Odettes and The Atlantic Bar to name a few and is equally as passionate as Tsanos. ‘My ethos here is that the menu is going to be updated and changed every week. Totally seasonal and all from the British Isles.’ Members are able to either sit at the bar and have a burger or make their way up to the restaurant for something more sophisticated.

Valentine has created a veritable fantasy world within this unassuming townhouse’s walls that you can’t help but melt into. His club is a cosy and elaborate den that will cater to every need you may have. Conduct business meetings on the third floor, take your lover for a discreet romantic dinner in the restaurant or perhaps celebrate your redundancy dancing in the club in the basement.

When you do find yourself in Molton House – or leaving it – make sure you don’t bump into Nick smoking outside. Any deadlines for the next day are toast if you do.



 

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