Thursday, January 22, 2009

Soho House New York

I went to Soho House for drinks & a proper catch up last night with beautiful L who, to my shame, I haven’t seen since before I hopped it back to London last year. In the lift, on the way up, I started chatting with two guys and an observer commented that everyone in the lift was English. “Well, not that surprising: we are in Soho House”, I replied. And he (English too), rather grumpily muttered, ” God It’s all a bit sad.”

I really don’t understand this attitude. Soho House is a series of grown up private members’ clubs in England and in America, founded in London, still based in London, which offers reciprocal membership of its rather nice NY offshoot to its English members. (In NY, it is also a hotel, albeit a very expensive, sexy one, so English guests aren’t exactly a surprise.)

Anyway, it’s hardly unexpected that if one pays for membership, as I have done in England for ten years, that we will want to use the club here and its numerous facilities generously. His implication, I guess, is that there’s something demeaning and sad in English people gravitating to an English club in NY, when there is so much on offer in this city.

But, here’s the thing. It’s not an English club for English people in Manhattan where they can sit about and discuss the price of sausages in Myers of Keswick (the UK grocery store in the Village.) In NY, Soho House is an extremely good international establishment catering, in the main, to its American clientele. Sure, if you ask nicely, they will produce a huge jar of Marmite from the kitchen at brunch, but there’s no effort to make it English, unless you count imaginative interior design, good food and delicious cocktails as the sole preserve of the English, and I think we all know that’s not necessarily true.

I loathe the idea of the ex-pat bubble too: I have made great efforts to have a circle of American friends here, and not just hang out with other English people in Manhattan. It’s incredibly easy to never talk to a single American, bar service staff here, and I don’t want to become of those people. Otherwise, what would be the point of moving to America? And that’s why the arrogant git in the lift judging us all annoyed me so much.