Annabel's was founded in 1963, after Birley's friend John Aspinall decided that they needed somewhere to party after an evening's gambling. As a result, Birley turned the basement of Aspinall's casino, the Clermont Club, into a nightclub, and named it after his then wife, Annabel, who went on to marry Birley's friend, Sir James Goldsmith. Birley later blocked off the private staircase linking the Clermont above.
Annabel's was the first of its kind: a members-only nightclub that catered to an exclusive clientele, including The Prince of Wales, Camilla Shand, Princess Anne, US President Richard Nixon, Fürst Maximilian von Redwitz, Aristotle Onassis, Frank Sinatra and the Clermont Set. Entertainers who have played there include Tina Turner, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Ross and Lady Gaga. The sumptuous interior which was originally designed by Birley and designer Nina Campbell, has since been updated by Birley's daughter, India Jane, but the paintings from Birley's collection remain.
On the evening of 5 June 2007, after more than a year of negotiations, Annabel's was acquired by the clothing tycoon and Ivy owner Richard Caring in a deal thought to be worth £90 million. The deal also included the purchase of four other private members' clubs including Harry's Bar.
- Roberts, Glenys (8 July 2011). "Bent cards, the Chancellor's granny and the Mayfair hustler". Daily Mail (London).
- "Aristocrats' favourite nightclub Annabel's sold for £90m". Daily Mail (London). 6 June 2007.
- "Club Class? Past and future of Annabel's". The Independent (London). 10 August 2005.