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LONDON — Piers Adam’s new club, Nell’s, may have just opened, but its walls could already tell a few tales. The place is named after Nell Gwynn, the courtesan and mistress of the Prince of Wales who stayed at the site when it was a hotel in the late 17th century.
“I think it has a ghostly feeling of naughty and debauched secrets,” says Adam over a Diet Coke one afternoon at the club. “Having somewhere that has a heritage is much easier than taking on a new building that hasn’t got a soul.”
After K-bar, Kabaret, Rock and Stork Rooms, the two-level, 2,500-square-foot club, bar and restaurant in Mayfair is Adam’s latest venture. But while he has preserved the building’s antiquated mood, he’s punched it up with modern glamour. Nell’s is decorated with Parisian Art Deco frosted lamps from the 1930s and turquoise mirrors, walls washed in pale gold and black glass tables surrounded by black wooden chairs with padded orange cushions. The restaurant, on the ground floor, serves dishes like sausage with mustard mashed potatoes and the more exotic sesame salmon fillet with coconut basmati rice. A big circular peephole in the floor gives a view of the basement dance floor, where revelers groove to R&B and hip-hop tunes until closing time at 3:30 a.m.
Its opening late last month attracted Claudia Schiffer, Heidi Klum and Matthew Perry, and already Tom Parker Bowles, son of Camilla Parker Bowles, is a regular, as are the Spencer-Churchills and Ben Elliot, whose mother, Annabel, designed the venue with Tamsin Greenhill.
While the swell set might have found its way to Nell’s already, Adam is intent on preserving its posh-meets-street mix. In Adam’s world, the Chelsea set and the edgier East and North London crowd mingle. “I love the idea of supermodels mixing with street kids,” says Adam. “It makes for a much better time.”