It is no secret here on this Blog that as a family, we love an experience and the chance to check out new places.
And if it happens to be that I get to experience something as part of my Blogging business, then that also gets a big thumbs up and off I jolly well go – with twisted arms and no Kid. This is precisely what happened when I was invited to deliver a blogging presentation to the therapists of the Health in the City practice in London.
The venue for this talk was the Vout-O-Reenee’s Private Members Club in Prescot Street, London. A place I knew nothing of. And that is what makes writing this so very special. Because I do believe that it is through sheer good fortune that I was invited inside this deliciously charming place.
So, as I negotiated a very different Aldgate to the one where I started my City career back in the 80s, I found myself among the hustle and bustle of the trendy bars of Leman Street as I made my way to the Club. Back in the day, Aldgate was like the back of beyond. You would certainly never find a bar open, let alone one with music and most certainly not after 9pm. In fact Leman St was mainly known for the Police Station. But like many places in London, it is now a vibrant destination.
Vout-O-Reenee’s is nestled in the Crypt of the Roman Catholic Church of the English Martyrs in Prescot Street. You would only know of its presence if you were headed here for a purpose, as on this occasion, I was.
On arrival at Vout-O-Reenee’s, a wonderfully warm welcome was extended by the owner, Sophie Parkin. Once inside, I was transported into a world of ‘surrealism’ which is precisely the intention here.
This place feels like a very special secret. And it is.
The Foyer is a work of art – literally. Everything in this place is painted including the floor. And then if you look more closely – even more detail. In fact, there is not a single area of this place untouched by a quirky piece of art or design. And that is what makes it so fascinating.
For the first time visitor, stepping inside is a little bit like being on a film set. If you imagine hard enough, you could even be the leading lady.
On entering the bar area, one is transported back to the 1930’s and I could imagine standing among an elite crowd in a Speak Easy. Music playing, smoke billowing and secrets and laughter being shared by gorgeous people. And Bourbon!
As I said before, there is not a single area in this fabulous place that isn’t adorned with artwork. On my second visit, I was noticing more quirky details that I missed first time around. I am sure there are many more to be discovered. In fact, I’d love to be let loose in this place for a whole day.
When Sophie and her husband, Jan Vink acquired the derelict space, they set out to transform it into a 1930’s inspired ‘Private Members Club for the Surrealistically Distinguished’. They have certainly achieved this in buckets.
It is a place for artists, creatives, musicians and other discerning individuals that wish to take up membership and delve into this delightfully surreal venue.
But there are rules. Of course there are rules. And with the first one being ……………….
‘Thou Shalt Not be Boring’
you will surely want to read to the rest. Well worth it I promise. You can read the other 9 here – Rules is Rules!
Vout-O-Reenee’s plays host to many events, launches and celebrations with music, conversation and hospitality always being top of the agenda. There is an ongoing list of events and also housed within the Club is the Stash Gallery where artists are invited to display their work. There are also Life Drawing Classes for both members and non-members.
The Small Rooms
And then of course the toilets. Because, we all love a toilet don’t we guys?! Sophie was quick to point out all of the detail in both the ladies and the gents. You cannot fail to smile in this place.
Let’s Not Forget Why You are Here Love!!!
One could indeed almost forget the reason for being here. On this occasion any nerves at delivering a presentation very quickly dissipated when I was shown to the area where I was to deliver the presentation.
The Garden Room
If you are going to deliver a presentation, then you may as well do it in style!!!
The Garden Room, without stating the obvious, is painted as a homage to Monet.
The only thing out of place in this room was the screen (and me probably!) With a little forethought, I suppose I could have painted my own frock but hey, you’ve got to play to your strengths and on this occasion that was the topic of content creation!!
At the time of my visit, Vout-O-Reenee’s had recently played host to an auction for the victims of Grenfell Tower. We were invited to try our luck by picking from a Tombola and I was delighted to win a limited edition piece of artwork by Abigail Lane which proudly awaits a frame and a place on our gallery wall at home, alongside the rest of our family mug shots and memorabilia.
The fact that this place and the area is shrouded in so much history makes it just that bit more special and I was to learn more about this from the owners over an expertly poured cocktail. A ‘Divine’ if you must.
And as Sophie and Jan went on to explain, it’s all about the conversation and socialising with others here at Vout-O-Reenee’s .
It’s a place where mobile phones have no real place and the emphasis is firmly on having fun. You never know who you may meet here, but you can be assured that you will meet someone and have a great chat about everything – yet nothing much in particular. Because you can. And that’s what make this establishment so special. In fact, I came by myself to an event on my second visit and was introduced to some delightful people. As long as you remember Rule No. 1, you will be fine!!! You will never feel left out in this place.
With their combined inspiration, Sophie and Jan have created a masterpiece here and I have nothing but admiration for their determination and inspiration in making Vous O Reenee’s such a unique destination that smacks of hard work, passion and a love of entertainment and art.
If you are anything like me, you will want to see it for yourself and I urge you to take a look at the Vous O Reenee’s website because that, lovely people, is a visual delight in itself. A perfect night in, in fact.
Sophie is also the author of The Colony Room Club, a 60 year history of Bohemian Soho by Sophie Parkin Palmtree Publishing £35 (Available Amazon, Hatchards, Waterstones)
Disclaimer : No money needed to change hands for this review, neither was I imprisoned against my will. it is simply me bursting at the seams and wanting to share such a delightfully different place with you all. Because I ‘can can’.
Photographic Permission : Vout O Reenee’s