Exclusive to the maxThis discreet building tucked away on an inconspicuous street in Kensington, West London is in fact home to one of the most elite casinos in the capital. Dan Stephens checks out Maxims
The Maxims Casino Club is located off Kensington Road, close to Hyde Park, and the opulent surroundings London’s West End are a suitable backdrop for such an establishment. Exclusive and luxurious in equal measure, one visit here would certainly trigger a rethink for anyone who previously associated casinos with tacky lights and waitresses dressed in togas.
Vigorous security checks at the door means that a passport or driver’s licence is essential for anyone visiting – presumably because this is exactly the kind of place often frequented by arch villains and gentleman spies. There is certainly enough of a Casino Royale vibe around the place that you would almost expect to sit down at a table and have Bond himself catch a highly unrealistic straight-flush at your expense.
Maxims boasts a wide variety of games at some of the highest stakes available, but also caters for those who don’t wire their funds from a bank account in Zurich. Visitors can enjoy classic casino fare such as American roulette, blackjack and three-card poker, as well as slightly more unusual games such as punto banco. Electronic roulette and slots are also available for use.
A seat at one of the three tables in the Maxims Elite poker poom is recommended for anyone wanting to indulge themselves playing hold ‘em in sybaritic surroundings. The recently refurbished room sits up to thirty people, plus there’s always Sky Sports coverage and the complimentary menu if you bow out earlier than expected and staring at the barrel-vaulted ceiling won’t do you for entertainment.
For more cerebral gamers Maxims offers the chance to play cards in the Salle Privée, a galleried room designed as a recreation of John Forster’s original library. In fact, original works by the famous biographer Forster and Charles Dickens are available to view on demand.
The affluence of the surroundings is more than surpassed by the poker being played here. Hold ‘em tournaments start a staggering £20,000 and the cash games played at Maxims are the biggest in Great Britain. In fact on some nights it is common for between £1.2 million and £1.5 million to be on the table at any one time.
According to Craig Stevens, spokesperson for Maxims, the biggest pot in a poker game at the casino was a jaw-dropping £425,000. Undoubtedly these kinds of stakes are responsible for attracting the haves and have mores of the capital and several well-known sports stars are known to frequent the card tables here.
If you still have any cash left after all that it might be time to check out the restaurant, which is internationally recognised for quality and catered for by a team of specialist chefs. French, Chinese, Thai, Lebanese and Indian dishes are all served.
As with most casinos membership is required and an application form can be requested at Maxims’ official site, maximsclub.com. Alternatively you could visit as a guest of an existing member. We recommend befriending a wealthy count, who can also bankroll your forays into the high-stakes tournaments.
The nearest tube station is High Street Kensington, but presumably if you’re the kind of person that regularly frequents Maxims you’d be turning up in something slightly classier than a tube carriage. And before you ask, yes, the good people at Maxims will sort it out for you. Valet and limousine services are available to chauffeur VIP clients to these events or meet you on your arrival in London – but probably only if you’re very important.