When in London, Laguna can be found networking on new property deals in legendary party-spot Annabel’s, on Berkeley Square. Revamped in 2018 with an expensive new facelift, this grande-dame of the nightlife world is definitely worth the hype. Annabel’s is just two doors down from the original on Berkeley Square but a world away from the place Mark Birley opened in 1963, named after his then wife. This incarnation occupies an entire Palladian-style townhouse and garden, and puts a playful spin on garden theme, by Stockholm-born designer Martin Brudnizki.
A visit to Annabel’s is a treat for the senses. Flowers bloom on all sides, in murals and in silk across the ceiling of the ladies’ powder room; tigers, elephants, owls and parrots peek out of carpets and walls. There are two floor-to-ceiling chandeliers that once illuminated Audrey Hepburn in Paris When It Sizzles. A winged unicorn has alighted on the stairs, a hot-air balloon above it just in case. In the basement, a Garden of Eden serpent uncoils on the nightclub wall and columns are clad as gilt-edged palm trees. It has all the texture and colour of a Victorian Christmas card, but also conjures the leafy 18th-century grottoes of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, where fashionable courtiers gathered for masquerades and after-dark dalliances.
Annabel’s offers a noteworthy selection of restaurants, from The Mexican, that
elevates Latin street food to a social high – a clever choice that reflects the trend for quality Southern American cooking in the capital, to the exquisite Rose Garden, surely the most insta-grammable spot in the city – if only phones were allowed.
The newest offering is Matteo’s, offering refined Italian cuisine in opulent surroundings with first-class service. The restaurant pays homage to the original Annabel’s, with the club’s original artwork lining the walls, creating a sense of nostalgia that somehow makes the experience feel even more decadent. The menu consists of pure Italian classics, spoiling guests with age-old favourites and that trademark Annabel’s flare. The wide selection of antipasti, primi and secondi dishes makes it almost impossible to decide what to choose. Standouts from the current menu include the tortelli pasta with wild mushrooms and black truffle, Australian Wagyu beef with 36-month old parmesan and rocket, followed by a splendid tiramisu (of course) or the nutella bomb. Paired with the world’s largest privately-owned collection of Dom Pérignon champagne, the menu means that you’ll soon get lost in an Italian dream.
And of course, after dark, those in the know will slink down to the basement, where the nightclub awaits, with its program of world-class DJs. As to what happens here, well that stays between friends. One thing’s for sure, we can expect a decadently late finish.