Has it really already been 10 years since Shoreditch shoved aside Notting Hill and Soho and established itself as the centre of London 'cool'?
For those of us old enough to remember those hedonistic days out east, venues such as Cantaloupe, Dragon, the Great Eastern Dining Room - and the wonderfully named Dreambagsandjaguarshoes - set the template for how great London bars could be. Amongst that illustrious crowd of drinking holes was Home, which for a time was the destination bar of choice for London’s beautiful and hip young things.
Sadly Home has since moved to that great bar stool in the sky, but its spirit lives on in The Book Club, the stylish, more upmarket little sister of the Queen of Hoxton.
TBC, as it likes to be known, is a statement to post-noughties design. Set over two spacious floors of a former Victorian warehouse, the upstairs features exposed brickwork interspersed with white brick tiling, held together by mix and match furnishings, mosaics and graphic light features. The long retro wooden trestle tables are adorned by the now-essential school chairs (which begs the question - what are London’s school children sitting on?).
In keeping with its cool factor, the DJs use iBooks instead of vinyl (of course). And the people are stylish in that London way that most other cities can only dream of, with their effortless mix of vintage, high street and high couture. Books are littered liberally throughout the bar, but people don’t go to TBC to read. The place is vibrant and full of energy, and people to a fashion accessory are friendly, and when we visited, not in the slightest bit pretentious. The bar staff were fun and super-efficient, and it had that buzz that reflects the confidence of a place that knows it’s nailed it.
Downstairs is more club than bar, and therefore more minimalist and grungy, but never in any sense dirty (something which some of TBC’s local rivals would do well to bear in mind).
I’ve never understood the idea of getting together with a bunch of strangers to review books. Too Stepford Wives for me. However, TBC is somewhere I will happily revisit. Although I’m sure I’ll be having too much fun to read books.