The Los Angeles Athletic Club recently revealed the Blue Room, a new, hidden lounge on the club’s fourth floor.
LAAC was founded in 1880, but moved to its present spot on 7th and Olive in downtown L.A. in 1912. It currently serves as a boutique hotel, a gym, a restaurant, a lounge, a meeting and work space and a trove of history. In 1913, an all-male social club known as the Uplifters Club formed and frequently met in a lounge then known as the Blue Room. Members included Clark Gable, Walt Disney and L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wizard of Oz. Jokingly, the club was sometimes referred to as the “cup lifters” more than uplifters and as such, the club moved out of LAAC in 1920, buying their own ranch to avoid prohibition.
There was a secret stairwell in the LAAC, however, that worked for sneaky drinking during Prohibition, but had been forgotten about for the past several decades. It was during renovations to the club that it was discovered once more, walled away. It was decided that the stairs would again serve a purpose: a way to access the new Blue Room.
To get into the clandestine Blue Room, you’ll first need to find the bookcase that opens to that stairway. And while it’s 2015—which means you don’t have to be a man these days to kick back with a classic cocktail here—you do have to be a member. (Or if you’re lucky like yours truly, invited.)
Designed by Timothy Oulton, this stately lounge has a number of regal design points, including shimmering chandeliers and leather furniture. There’s also a tower of books, three large glass vases holding various hard candies and toffees, a crate of vintage playing cards, and walls hung with ephemera from the Club’s history and vintage sporting equipment.
Anglophiles will appreciate a couch emblazoned with the Union Jack and The Who’s logo painted on a silver locker bank. Incorporating nods to England is something of an Oulton design aesthetic, along with flags from other nations. If you’re curious to see other spots Oulton’s made lovely, you can check out their Instagram here.
A bank of lockers can be found in the back of the lounge. Guests can use these lockers to house their own boozy bottles, and LAAC has a partnership with one spirit in particular: The Macallan, a single malt Scotch whiskey.
For Blue Room‘s inauguration, bartenders mixed craft cocktails while a DJ played oldies and British Invasion tracks, and in another corner, a shoe shine stand had been set up. I stopped by the bar area downstairs as I arrived a bit early and while I missed out on the Macallan cocktails, I did get a rather interesting concoction: smoky mescal, pear and egg white made a unique blend of flavors with a frothy texture. It’s not too sweet, but it’s still very smooth.
The Blue Room is only one of the LAAC’s recent or planned renovations. They previously renovated the hotel rooms, opened new spots for eating and imbibing, and they’ll be adding a salt cave to the spa.
Membership at LAAC ranges from $109-173 and includes access to the club’s fitness facilities, restaurants, bars, discount stays the boutique hotel and of course, a chance to experience the Blue Room for yourself.