Why Londoners love the immersive: Mr Fogg's embarks on mass expansion

17 April 2018

Inspired by the legendary travels of the fabled Phileas Fogg, the Mr Fogg's Collection oozes adventure, hedonism and some serious modern-life escapism.

Founded by Inception Group in 2013, the collection – currently made up of Mr Fogg's Residence in Mayfair and Mr Fogg's Gin Parlour in Covent Garden – tells the story of the fictional character who travelled the world in 80 days, transporting drinkers back to 1873 with sultry interiors, lavish furnishings and quirky antiques adorning the walls.

But Inception isn't content with two thriving Phileas-inspired venues, with the group – founded by duo Charlie Gilkes and Duncan Stirling – set for its greatest expansion to date, adding three more London-based bars to the enchanting Mr Fogg's Collection.

The first, Mr Fogg's House of Botanicals, is set to open in Fitzrovia this June, and in a world of business rates rising and nightlife closing faster than you can say 80 days, the openings come as a breath of fresh air for the London hospitality scene.

Mr Fogg's original residence in Mayfair
Mr Fogg's original residence in Mayfair

'Despite all the recent stories of doom and gloom in the hospitality industry, last year every individual business within Inception Group had their best year yet,' reveals co-founder Gilkes on the new opening.  'With those results, we felt that the time was perfect for a significant expansion. We also found three wonderful sites to work with all at a very similar time.'

The second 'wonderful site' is that of Broadgate Circle in east London, where joint-owners British Land and GIC are investing £1.5b into the circles evolution, hoping to make the series of eating-and-drinking terraces a destination for London. The masterplan is to deliver 4.9 million sq ft of new workplaces, retail spots and restaurants, and the second new Mr Fogg's venue fits the bill to a tee.

Possessing a certain woman's touch, this second site, aptly-named Mrs Fogg's, will play residence to Fogg's wife Audo, the Indian princess turned explorer and is looking to open this September.

The third opening has our minds and taste buds whirring with expectation, just by the name alone. Mr Fogg's Society of Exploration will take up residence just off the Strand this October, with rumours of even more Mr Fogg's frenzy set for 2019.

Following the success of Mr Fogg's Residence, the Gin Parlour opened in Covent Garden
Following the success of Mr Fogg's Residence, the Gin Parlour opened in Covent Garden

'I think there has been a real trend towards immersive nightlife, where people want more than just drinks when they go out, they want to be entertained,' continues Gilkes on the success behind the Mr Fogg's brand. 'We provide that at Mr Fogg's by allowing people to step into the fictional world of Jules Verne's novel, Around The World in 80 Days.

'Guests can try a cocktail that has been sent to space or go on a gin safari or have a cockney singalong around the piano in our tavern, there is a whole element of escapism that is unique and different to your average bar.'

Gimicks aside, the drinks offering at Mr Fogg's is one to take seriously, nearly scooping the Imbibe Drinks List of the Year award in 2016 and taking home best Themed List. 'Despite our conceptual theme, I feel Mr Fogg's is still also a 'serious' cocktail bar,' insists Gilkes. 'Every last detail of our cocktail menus, interiors and service style are painstakingly worked on continuously and even if someone didn't know that Mr Fogg's had a theme they would still be able to enjoy extremely high quality, inventive drinks that you would find in any of the best bars in London.'

The details of all three are still very hush hush, with menus still under wraps. 'All I can tell you is that Mr Fogg's House of Botanicals, Mrs Fogg's and Mr Fogg's Society of Exploration will all be unique in their own way and also reflect the different areas of London that they are going to be located in, whilst fitting very much in with the overall ethos behind the Mr Fogg's Collection,' teases Gilkes.

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