A couple of months ago, we were shown around the bare-bones building site destined to become Mayfair’s first, high-tech, wellness members’ club, 3 St James’s Square, by its founder, Mark Chamber. He painted a picture with words, gesticulations and contagious passion of what the club would stand for, who it would cater to and the unmatched, UK-first services that its members would enjoy (read our full interview with Mark here). A month on from its unofficial opening, we were invited to return and see if the venue and its offerings could live up to the promise.
We walk up to the newly frosted glass façade and pause. There is no bell, no knocker and no way of catching the attention of anyone on the inside. All that there is, is a small electronic pad on the left-hand side of the door for a card or key which, sadly, we do not possess. This is clearly an invite-only affair. After a moment of mild flustering, we knock on the door and are immediately greeted by the smiling face of the Concierge, Alexandra. She welcomes us in and takes our many layers from us, hanging them in an in-built wardrobe by her desk.
The space has been completely transformed. What used to be a closed-off Marketing Suite is now a reception lobby, opening up onto the main lounge with the bar and glass box library room beyond. The lounge décor is simple and unfussy, with warm oak flooring laid in a herringbone pattern, smart yet comfortable leather seating, and white walls broken up by the occasional signature 3 St James’s teal. The most extravagant feature is a bookmatched, grey marble wall with an in-built fireplace. Surrounded by Chesterfield sofas, this zone feels like a contemporary play on the traditional members’ club aesthetic.
The bar is slick and white, housing an impressive tea collection including Camellia’s handmade, wellness specialities such as Aching Muscle, Beautiful Skin, and Skinny B*tch herbal infusions, as well as a range of wines and spirits. Most notably of all however is the gregarious and knowledgeable Sommelier, Peter, who is always on-hand with a smile and a joke whilst being wonderfully liberal with the Drappier Carte d’Or Brut – a low in sulphites Pinot Noir-based champagne that is both elegant and full-bodied, and which gives off quince, peach and a hint of spice.
As many of 3 St James’s Square’s members’ conduct business in the area, Mark felt that it was important to provide them with a quiet space in which to hold meetings. The Library Room offers this, its glass walls looking out onto the main space with the option of privacy screens shutting the area off from the rest of the club.
So far, we have seen nothing that differentiates 3 St James’s Square from other clubs in the area. This all changes as we enter the next space in the enfilade. As soon as we push through the doors by the Library Room, we are met with the modern wellness offering that Mark promised in our first meeting. We look out onto a corridor lined with French blue-grey wood panelled. To our left are a series of rooms, the first containing the UK’s first Somadome – a Jetsons-esque private pod with an illuminated dome that combines colour therapy with binaural beat meditation. Mark describes the user experience as “acupuncture without the piercing”, saying that “after 20 minutes, you come out like a completely new person”. Other rooms include a sauna with a double light-well so that guest can gaze up to the heavens whilst reclining in loungers; spa treatment rooms; and a post-treatment lounge with the comfiest armchairs you’ve ever experienced.
However, the most important part of 3 St James’s offerings is the Butler’s Station, a desk area to the right of the corridor where Selena, Head of Spa, is positioned. As soon as a member enters through the front door, the Butler’s Station is alerted to their presence and can greet them with their laundered gym kit, mended items, or a spa robe for their appointment.
Selena takes us through to the changing rooms where we are given a locker (complete with phone charging point) and get ready for our personal training sessions. We are escorted down the steps to the basement level, comprising a fully equipped gym with fitness suites offering wellness classes and a golf simulator where 3 St James’s Square’s resident golf pro, Jeremy, can assist members with their swings.
We’re left in the capable hands of personal trainer, Declan, who takes us through the club’s unusual “on-boarding” process.
DNAFit and 3dYu
We weren’t kidding when we said that 3 St James’s Square is revolutionary in terms of its club offerings. Declan explains that when a member joins, they are taken through a unique on-boarding process which is intended to help the fitness team give each individual a level of bespoke service and personalised advise beyond anything else currently on the UK market. This is achieved by their employment of two innovative systems: DNAFit and 3dYu.
Declan presents us with a box upon which the word “DNAFit” is printed. The package contains a cotton swab as well as an array of literature to take away. We are invited to rub the swab on the inside of our cheek and seal it in a plastic tube. The reason for this, Declan explains, is that we are all different and, in order for us to get the most out of a workout, dietary plan and lifestyle, we need to know what makes us tick, genetically speaking. DNAFit will take our swab, which contains a sample of our DNA, and create a detailed report on our intolerances, how we react to different types of exercise, and how we metabolise nutrients (amongst many other things). This will be sent back to us within around one week and will help our trainer devise a uniquely tailored regime and diet plan until now only accessible to the world’s top athletes. [Whilst this may at first sound like overkill, it was truly enthralling when, fast-forward a few weeks, we were emailed our personal information, with the offer of a call to go over the results].
Next, we are asked to step onto a very fancy machine that measured our weight and body composition, after which we’re walked over to a large white pod-room that turns out to be the 3dYu body mapping suite. Whilst the 3D scan technology has been around for a number of years, it has only previously been used to create Marvel and Harry Potter characters for films. However, 3 St James’s Founder, Mark, saw here the opportunity to provide members with another unique offering – a complete 3D photo of themselves, repeated over a series of months, that would show them how their wellness plan is affecting their body.
Declan fully appreciated that many people would be uncomfortable sharing such an image is uploaded to a member’s personal online account that can only be accessed by their trainer if permission is given. If granted access, trainers talk the scans through with their client and alter fitness and dietary programmes to suit them.
Whilst having gone through a process that, in any other setting, we would have found somewhat invasive and clinical, we find ourselves feeling very positive about it as it gives us confidence in the fact that what our trainer will suggest in terms of our fitness regime will in fact work.
Once we have completed our first ever DNA test and 3D body scans, we step out onto the gym floor, ready for our first workout. The space is certainly recognisable as a gym but the atmosphere is decidedly different. Here, there is no sense of rush or showmanship. The weights area is lined with decorative mirrors and comfortable armchairs are dotted about. Planters sit next to the machines and artwork is due to line the walls, giving those on running machines something to lose themselves in. A juniper wall is also being installed in the fitness suite to give off pleasing aromas and relax the mind. Declan asks us about our training history and what we are looking for before taking us through a combination workout utilising body weight, free weights, exercise bands and the TechnoGym resistance machines.
The TechnoGym systems are of particular interest as they are controllable with a digital band resembling a watch that all members get given. This, once pressed to the machine, sets the exercise, weight and set number as predetermined by the individual and their trainer. This clever arrangement means that frequent travellers are able to access information, schedules and even videos from their trainer whenever they go to a venue with TechnoGym equipment. The machines themselves are also novel; the use of cables and adjustable pullies means that they can be used for a variety of different exercises and mould themselves to each user – something that the supremely vertically challenged amongst us can definitely see an advantage in.
Once we have finished our session, we are directed back to the changing rooms where we make full use of the double-sized power showers, Dyson hairdryers and ghd straighteners. The ladies’ changing rooms at least have been fully stocked with the necessities, although we can’t help the thought popping into our heads that the colour of the hair ties denotes that of the members.
We don our fluffy spa robes and shuffle into our slippers before heading out to meet our Spa Therapist, Lauren.
The treatment room is a simple yet comfortable, with enough space for two beds. Lauren talks us through our selected treatment, the Red Carpet Full Body Experience (90 mins, £210), featuring a full body massage, followed by the Fire & Ice two mask facial, a dry scalp massage and a hot stone massage. Kind and attentive, she speaks knowledgeably about the clinically proven luxury cosmeceutical iS Clinical products she is using, taking particular time and care to explain the stages of the facial, which involves a resurfacing product that smells like Christmas and increases cell renewal, followed by a cooling and hydrating mask.
She checks whether we have any areas we would like to focus on and ensures our comfort throughout the hot and tingly facial. Once done, she leaves us to relax and get changed, interrupting our sloth-like state only to offer champagne or herbal tea – we obviously opt for the bubbles.
We float out of the treatment room, glass in hand, and find ourselves once more at the bar, chatting with Peter, Selina, Lauren and Alexandra. As a team, they are all phenomenally amiable and relaxed and there is a real sense of ease. What also strikes us is that the vast majority of the staff we have come into contact with are young, intelligent and personable females, which is a nice change from so many elite clubs in the area.
We continue nattering the night away and feel a genuine reluctance to leave this place of wellness where we have already begun to feel quite at home. Whilst there are many members’ clubs in the vicinity – and in London in general at the moment – 3 St James’s Square is markedly different in style, offerings, staffing and atmosphere. Here, you feel like the team are keenly interested in your wellbeing whilst not being at all sycophantic or disingenuous, and that they can really help you make a difference to your life (whilst also plying you with champagne). The only things that 3 St James’s Square does not offer are a dining option and guestrooms, but with so many phenomenal restaurants and hotels a stone’s throw away, this not the end of the world. In fact, if they did offer gourmet food and luxury accommodation on site, we don’t think we would ever leave.
Regular membership costs £6,000 + £2,000 Joining Fee (Individual Annual), with Monthly payment options available (£600 + £2,000 Joining Fee). Founder Membership is £4,000 per year, or £400 per month, with no Joining Fee, a guarantee of no fee increase throughout membership and many other perks. For more information about 3 St James’s Square Private Members’ Club, visit their site here.