Life is easier at De-Nom. Three levels above the street above the paisley-papered Ruby Rabbit bar on Oxford Street, is the home of Sydney's beautiful jet-set crowd... and those just curious to see how the other half live. Which, in De-Nom's case, is in style.
With a membership price tag of $10,000, the 80-seater venue is inspired by 18th century France. "Think the Palace of Versailles," says co-owner and designer Paul Schell. "We wanted to create something beautiful, a fish out of water in Sydney's architectural language; a private sanctuary for people who want to appreciate refinement. The reason I choose the 18th century French aspects was, in my mind, I couldn't think of a monarchy or a period in time that had embodied such hedonist or decadent behaviour. If there was a period that knew how to spend, spend, spend, it was 18th France."
And Sydney has lapped it up. "We've had a few people request roped off areas and we've declined because as far as we see it, if you're in De-Nom, you're experiencing the De-Nom room. We don't need a velvet rope, De-Nom is a velvet roped room."
De Nom's devilry is in the detail. The bar is made from walnut burr timber (the same wood as in a Rolls Royce dash), while the furniture is covered in hand-selected brass and 23 carot gold inlays. The brand of wine glasses is a secret but they are made from Czech crystal ("it took months for us to find those and we're the only ones in Sydney who use them") and the waitresses wear custom-made outfits, which next season will be Camilla Frank Kaftans. "The bathrooms, on the other hand, is me having a bit of fun," says Shell. "In 18th century France, they weren't that glamorous."
More "individual sitting rooms" than mere brascos, De Nom's dunnies have silk tented ceilings, chandeliers, timber panelling, bespoke wallpaper. In the ladies, a Louis-inspired chair actually conceals the toilet itself. "When you flush, a Louis reproduction picture magically slides up to reveal the hand spun basin with brass swan spouts."
It's equally exciting in the men's.
"It has the infinity mirrored room with the smiling cavalier painting set behind glass and when the boys walk through the door, water sets off over their head over a suspended glass ceiling. The eyes of cavalier are set at just the right height of an average Australian guy and he's giving you a cheeky little grin."
But the De-Nom experience is about to get better. It's been three years in the making but in the coming months De Nom opens its Bookcase Room. "At the very end of the bar, the burr walnut bookcase has a one-way mirror behind it. There are six arches in the bookcase and the last arch has a moveable section that you access by lifting a specific book. The door slides back and closes behind you."
Then there's the sawn-off butler. "I have a midget man servant," smiles Schell. "If someone wants that service, he is dressed only in a pair of trousers and is covered completely in gold body paint from his waist over his bald head. You can have a little gold Odd Job."
But don't think that once you're granted access, you can walk straight through (well, members can). "The book can be changed which means if you come back the next day and you are trying Great Expectations, it could be Moby Dick."
Note - Membership is $10,000 - yes, you read right - but that doesn't mean you can't make an appearance as a non-member. It doesn't cost anything to get in, and if they're not having a private party entry is fairly straightforward. Dress nicely, as with any of these places, and don't give the bouncers any lip.