Intrecciato bi-fold leather wallet
Nick Jones casts a brief, searching eye around the room. We’re on the top floor of the new Soho House on Dean Street, and he’s paused for the first time in our conversation to try and illustrate a point by way of an object in the room. He leans back into his spot on a sofa, wearing jeans and trainers that bely his mogul-like status in the hospitality industry. He seems to have mastered a unique way of being, perfectly suited to the surroundings he both industriously masterminds and languorously inhabits. He is all at once both jovial and abrupt, relaxed and to the point.
The building is the latest addition to the Soho House & Co's London ‘houses’, a now-global collective of members’ clubs and hotels that Nick brought into this world with the opening of his very first club, a mere stone’s throw away on the corner of Old Compton Street and Greek Street. That original location - all unexpected nooks, artfully utilised crannies - is currently being renovated, and for now at least this new spot at 76 Dean Street fulfils the role of flagship house majestically. An altogether slicker proposition, it nevertheless retains the idiosyncratic stylings and thoughtful, friendly attention to detail that has seen Jones’ vision become so beloved by the arts and creative industry crowds drawn to each of the seventeen houses opened worldwide to date. It is a success story that shows no signs of slowing down - “we feel we have the capacity to open two or three new houses a year,” Nick says matter of factly.
In this moment though, he is concentrating not on the profiles and arresting buildings of the next international city his team have scoped out for expansion, but on this one room. It is in an attempt to somehow convey just how that personal vision is tangibly executed across such disparate locations; across a wealth of different concepts, from the re-energised former US embassy of Soho House Istanbul to the hyper-bucolic pleasures intrinsic to Soho Farmhouse, his reimagining of a traditional English holiday camp. ”All of our design is done in-house,” he says. “We have a group of really fascinating, talented designers but you know, I love getting involved… In fact I get involved with it all.” Finally his eyes settle on a beautifully preserved chair immediately to the side of where we’re sitting: a typically refined mid-century affair that shouldn’t in theory work in tandem with the decadently bohemian oversized couch we’re currently occupying. Of course it’s testament to Nick’s single-mindedness how well it does: all the more so when you consider it has been upholstered in a not exactly ‘safe’ shade of mustard yellow fabric. “That chair, it wouldn’t have been ordered without a nod from myself,” he says with visible satisfaction. There is little doubt that ‘the nod’ would also have to have been given to any number of other elements in the room, from the choice of rich, dark wood for the bar to the uniforms that the staff wear - at once somehow formal and relaxed all at once - to the eye-catching, eclectic artworks that occupy so much of the wall space in every room.
Nick says he always felt the urge to be more expansively creative, which perhaps explains the way he attacked with such conviction the opportunity to open the very first Soho House some 21 years ago. He went into catering at a young age - a move that surprised pretty much everyone around him, who told him it was “a shit job.” However he persevered until one day, whilst running a restaurant in the heart of Soho, “the landlord phoned me up and said ‘would you like to take the space above?’” The obvious follow up question is -but why a members club, specifically? Was there something about that moment in time, about members clubs in London or beyond that made you want to shake things up? Nick, in typical style shrugs and smiles wryly at any attempts to suggest there is a more grandiose narrative at play. “I mean, it only had a small door. I just thought, well you can’t do a big public restaurant with a small door. I know people do it now, but 21 years ago people weren’t doing it.”
That ‘small door’ acted as a gateway for Nick to entertain all of his most creative impulses on an ever-increasing scale. Every new venture however is tied to a few fundamental foundations: chiefly that the houses should remain hubs in which to bring creative minds together; that their approach to private membership should be one that fosters a sense of inclusivity rather than exclusivity. They haven’t always got it right, concedes Nick with reference to their New York house becoming at one point overstuffed with slick corporate types from the financial district. Always though, Nick tries to keep an idealised version of his ‘favourite’ Soho House member in mind: “the struggling scriptwriter who might be having a tap water in the corner.” This might sound trite or hollow coming from any other supremely successful businessman, were it not for the fact that Nick appears to have built his empire by appealing exactly to those souls trying to channel the same things he does in some form or another. “I’m always looking for ideas but that’s my hobby,” he says at one point. “My hobby is creating ideas, and design, and food, and drink… They’re perfectly legitimate hobbies to have, I just managed to turn my hobbies into a job.”
It is this sentiment that is left hanging in the air as our conversation comes to an end. Nick raises himself from the deep cushions of the sofa and by way of big smiles and hearty handshakes abruptly vanishes himself from the room. We’re left to linger here in one of the many miniature worlds he has created along the way, whilst he presumably heads off to continue tinkering with a brand new one. Sinking down in another perfectly chosen piece of furniture, conversing with a cheery bartender employed to be anything but a faceless drone, marvelling at the way an archaic fireplace is surrounded by edgy modern artworks to achieve the most unexpectedly perfect balance… Suddenly you begin to see how a man as undoubtedly busy as Nick Jones still manages to think in terms of hobbies rather than jobs.
By James Darton for Semaine.
Intrecciato bi-fold leather wallet
Knightsbridge Ribbed Cashmere Socks
Classic document holder in black grain de poudre textured leather
Greenwich dressing table
Sea salt spray
Looking at Nick’s essential items is like looking at a snapshot of the endless tiny details that go into making the Soho House experience so alluring. So Nick likes to have a cashmere throw to hand wherever possible? Well, you’ll also find one on each cosy armchair in the SHG’s Electric Cinema. Why an Orlebar Brown polo shirt? What other item of clothing so perfectly embodies the timeless style that allows a House guest to move from poolside to bar to restaurant with laid-back assuredness?
Sebastian French terry-towelling polo shirt
Stanmore active stereo bluetooth speaker (Brown)
Portobello cashmere throw
SoundLink® around-ear wireless headphones II
Panama collection - Soho notebook
Soho House Barcelona
“It’s a lovely old building,” Nick says of the latest addition to Soho House, set to open imminently in Barcelona. Attempting to describe it he continues, “A merchant house from 1850 in a great area, near Las Ramblas in the gothic quarter, 57 bedrooms, a couple of swimming pools…” He smiles, offers one of his trademark shrugs and self-deprecating conclusions. “The normal old clobber you find in a house!”
Reade wall light
Kinsey merino wool blanket, duck egg
Franklin carved wood bed, super king
House goose down duvet
Monroe square cushion
Vintage brass foot chair
Natural pumice stone
Cowshed reversible shopping bag
House Hammam towel
Knackered Cow relaxing body lotion
Heythrop basket, round
“No two days are the same,” says Nick. Usually I’m at one of the Soho Houses or prospective sites around the world.” Below though is a perhaps-typical day for Nick if he does find himself grounded in London. Conservatively, he calls time at 11pm - “I still enjoy a party - I wouldn’t have gone into this business if I didn’t. I just don’t stay up until 3am quite as much as I used to…”
“I get up at about 6am, I do a quick email check and then I’ll go to the gym for an hour – I try to do this wherever I am. I’m into boxing at the moment. I have a pretty good personal trainer who keeps me on my toes.”
“By about 7.30am I’m in the office and ready to start my meetings. I’ll meet with all of the teams throughout the day: the architects, design team, people and development, operations, communications… I do still like to be involved with the decisions. It’s a very collaborative process between us all. I’m having lots of meetings about the new House in Barcelona at the moment, as it’s opening at the end of October. I’m really excited about this club, it’s in the Gothic quarter, in a 19th century building, overlooking Port Vell marina. At some point I’ll try and get some breakfast from our in-house cafe in the office, House Kitchen. I usually go for eggs, I love a side of bacon and of course a good coffee.”
“Come midday I’ll jump on the tube and head out to some of the sites. At the moment I am spending a lot of time visiting The Ned, our new place we’re partnering with Sydell Group on. It’s a hotel, club and collection of restaurants in the City of London. I’ll jump on the tube and head to Bank - it’s set in the former Midland Bank building on Poultry. The building was designed by Sir Edwin 'Ned' Lutyens in 1924 and the space has nine restaurants and 252 bedrooms. It’s going be a very big opening for us next year.”
“At about 2pm, if I am in one of our sites I will grab lunch there, otherwise I’ll grab lunch on the go and eat in meetings. Sushi is always good, I’m not a fussy eater and like to keep it quite simple and quick.”
“I try to wrap my meetings up by 7:30pm and go for an early drink. If I’m in London I’ll probably pop next door to 76 Dean Street or go out with the operations team to one of the new openings in London- it’s good to check out what is going on in the City.”
“I’ll head to bed at about 11/11:30pm, 6 hours sleep is more than enough for me. I still enjoy a party – I wouldn’t have gone into this business if I didn’t. I just don’t stay up until 3am as much as I used to.”
Organic B bright cold pressed juice 250ml
Cotton shirt jacket
Audley silver coffee press - small
Ace Hotel Limited
Cotton-jersey lounge trousers
Henry pajama shirt tent stripe
Face reviver (50ml)
Air Pegasus 83
Round-frame acetate sunglasses
Solid navy umbrella duck head handle
Barwell cut crystal martini shaker
Nick's Roast Chicken
Nick may have a whole host of other considerations to make as he pieces together the seemingly infinite elements comprising a Soho House experience, but he still retains a passion for that first ‘hobby’ to take him down this path. “Oh yeah, I cooked lunch on Sunday! Roast beef, we had twenty people over and I absolutely loved it.”
For the Roast
Salt the chickens really well and fill with tarragon 24 hours before cooking, then rest in the fridge overnight.
Prepare the the mash potato in advance, mash the cooked potatoes with plenty of butter and cream. – "So I don’t have to worry about it later."
Let the chickens come to room temperature, then stick a couple of lemon halves in the cavity, squeezing them at the same time so that the juice runs out and mixes with the tarragon.
Cover the chickens with olive oil and place them in roasting tins surrounded with the chopped up onions, carrots and celery.
Place the chickens into a very hot oven, then turn the heat down straight away to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6, cook for about 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes, take them out and add Maille Dijon mustard as well as half a bottle of white wine into the tin, then place back into the oven for 45 minutes until golden and crispy.
"Is it jus or is it gravy? I think it’s gravy." For the gravy, remove the chickens from the tin and place the tin on the hob, add chicken stock and leave to simmer away for 15 minutes.
When the volume has reduced by half, strain everything through a sieve, pushing the vegetables through with a pestle quite roughly. Keep the gravy over a low heat until it is ready to serve.
To serve slice the chicken on a large board, place it in the middle of the table with the mashed potato, peas and gravy, ready for everyone to pass around.
As for the wine, don’t spend much on the white – save it for the red. Don’t be embarrassed to serve your own either – after all, no-one really wants to drink the four different bottles that people brought with them in one sitting. Save them for Tuesday night supper instead, or, if it’s deemed undrinkable, next Sunday’s beef gravy…
Cast iron round casserole dish 28cm
Small very veggie veg box
House stripe apron
Organic goose fat
Handcrafted cutting board
Around the World with Nick Jones
“I get into ‘travel mode’ - it means I don’t get upset if I get delayed. I just deal with it.” You can see why a certain zen frame of mind might be necessary once Nick starts offering up his previous week’s itinerary: “I left my house at 4.15 on Monday morning, got on a 6.15 flight to Barcelona, spent the morning there. I then flew straight to New York from Barcelona and from New York to Chicago, Chicago to LA. I then flew back to London for a meeting and was home on Friday evening.”
iPad Pro 9.7 Wi-fi 128GB
Wool classic crewneck sweater
Clubmaster acetate sunglasses - tobacco
The cabin trolley
Soho House Playlist
Music is one of the very few areas that Nick concedes he hands off to his highly trusted team (“I’m just not quite as good at it…”). The soundtrack to a Soho House experience though channels the same quirks and taste-making boldness that typify the houses’ other attributes: from the DJs that fill Friday nights in Shoreditch House to the intimate acoustic live performances that one might stumble across in a barn at Soho Farmhouse in the Cotswolds