8 July 2009

Alto Club

Last night I went to the opening of a new, exclusive member's club called Alto in Soho. It claims to be 1920s-inspired, designed with the Art Nouveau movement in mind credited for bridging a wealth of history, neoclassicism and modernism.

On paper this all sounds incredible, and their press release is a hyperbolic whirl of finesse, luxury, elegance, sophistication, extraordinary etc etc, describing the haven as the perfect escape for their discerning clique. Alto is definitely opulent: lacquered black tables, gilt gold furnishings, low ornate ceilings, and a glossy, expansive dancefloor surrounded by booths in resplendent fabrics. But just to go back to the bone of contention, their overwhelmingly confident press release reads:

Alto London is an international destination representing decadence and elegance conveying the ultimate in luxury relaxation, entertainment, and contemporary creativity. We hope you enjoy the ambience as our dedicated and experienced team unleash inspiration and passion into creating a memorable night for all of Alto’s guests.

Hmm. If you're allowed in, you enter the intimidatingly dark doorway through burly bouncers, go down a black hallway, down some stairs into the darkness. It certainly promises privacy for its beloved clientele.


I appreciate Alto only just opened and yesterday (a rainy Tuesday) was their press night, but it didn't have the busy buzz you'd expect of a brand new club in London - the ambience was decidedly lacking. Vixen waitresses stalked, surly waiters prowled, champagne cautiously sipped and partygoers stuck to their seats… But I'm sure it would be totally different on a kicking Saturday night.

My main problem with Alto is the string of lights hugging the bar, ceiling and booths, constantly changing colour. In stark contrast to the sophisticated refinement the place apparently boasts, needless to say, this looks naff and decidedly seedy stripclub.

All-in-all it, disappointingly, didn't live up to its hype. Excellent location, great cocktails, good champagnes and wine list, open until 4am; but other than that Alto is just another club for the tasteless "elite": for the chavvy boy-done-good, footballers and their Essex girls, oil millionaires, Eurotrash and Russian sharks. Move over Movida.
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