President Lincoln was assassinated in one, kings wooed their courtesans from them and today they sell for millions of pounds. The private box is the most luxuriant spot for spectating. It may come in the traditional form of a red velvet-lined box up high and near the stage of a historic theatre, or as a glass-fronted, penthouse-esque space replete with plasma TV screens, private gaming facilities and personal chauffeurs. Think of it as the first class of spectating, the couture of audience-going.
The Royal Box tradition is deeply rooted in the history of the entertainment industry, since its earliest days, when theatre-going was the height of sociability. The first records date back to the 17th century when London was permitted just two winter theatres: Covent Garden and Drury Lane. The Royal Box was less about the views afforded onto the stage and more about the views from the auditorium onto the Royal Box: on display to everyone, they were an extravagant means of exhibiting wealth, friends and allegiances. This legacy has endured. Today whether in a theatre, a stadium or a luxury screening at a cinema, booking these privileged places is the gateway to the most exclusive experience. Guests enjoy the twin pleasures of spectating and decadence: with private dining room and butler, champagne and canapés all accompanying the show.
5-star sports events
Picture a London sporting venue with Royal connections, and Wimbledon will be at the forefront of the mind. For over a century the tournament has welcomed monarchies from Britain and around the world. HRH Queen Elizabeth first visited the 74-seater Royal Box in 1957 and ever since the spot has been filled with a star-studded crowd attracting as much attention and adulation as the players competing on Centre Court.
Those hankering to watch a football match in the country where ‘the beautiful game’ was born should clamour to find a golden ticket at one of the major teams’ clubs. Most have exclusive offers for both members and non-members throughout the Premiere League season from August to May. LUXOS was invited to a private box at the Emirates Stadium, home ground to Arsenal, where we bypassed the madding crowds via VIP entryways, were welcomed with champagne and canapés, and watched the match from leather wraparound sofas.
A trip to the cinema is always a pleasurable experience, but with the new generation of movie theatres, forget what you know so far. Luxury screening is taking the art of the moving image to a whole new and decadent level. Think banquettes and beds with in-chair waiters, cashmere blankets and foot rests. That’s what you get at the Everyman and Electric cinemas, with branches across London, from Portobello to Canary Wharf – you can even hire these out privately for a totally tailor-made experience. Curzon Mayfair is the only destination to have two Royal Boxes seating four people each.
The Royal Theatre experience
The Royal Opera House – the magnificent Covent Garden theatre under the Queen's patronage – provides the gold standard example. A private corridor on the first floor leads to a red velvet furnished room which can entertain up to six guests. The elegant Royal Retirement Room is a regally styled space where guests can enjoy a private dinner at a time of their choosing before, during or after the show – or even served as a course between each act. Close by, the Dominion Theatre has a story all of its own. Here, numerous international figures have enjoyed the Royal Box, which is also known as the ‘Bastard Royal Box’ for not being on the right side of the auditorium as with other theatres. The package here is magnificent, incorporating dedicated staff and champagne. Most other West End venues from the London Palladium to the Drury Lane Theatre have different luxury packages customised for every occasion including a private red-coated butler.
Royal Opera House