Padel is the world’s fastest growing racket sport. Fast, frenetic and very sociable, matches are played between four players, and while the sport is hard to master it is relatively easy to pick up.

Padium in Canary Wharf is perhaps the finest padel club in London, boasting eight courts and pristine facilities. We spoke to the club’s founder Houman Ashrafzadeh about bringing padel to the capital in style.

What was your mission statement when creating Padium?

I had seen the padel clubs in Sweden, the really premium places, and in the UK it was fairly basic. I wanted to elevate the experience, before, during and after the game.

The first thing you notice is it smells nice. You come into the changing rooms and you have nice towels, nice showers, and the courts are top, top quality. Then you come up to the mezzanine and relax, maybe have a drink.

You can build a community here. I was inspired by some of the more premium gym chains and I thought we could create a brand, building something quite unique in the padel space.

It feels like a proper social experience…

It’s a social thing. We are a pay-and-play model so we welcome everyone. You don’t require membership. In Sweden, it’s very democratic and inviting; we don’t have the same sort of culture when it comes to racket sports here in the UK – which is very member-led, exclusive. I want to do the opposite. Padel is a super social sport and if you want to build a community that’s key.

Padium Canary Wharf

This is planned to be the first of many?

I’d say this is my first draft. It is a great first draft but our plans are to grow and become one of the biggest padel brands in the world. We have a few very good competitors and that’s great for the sport, but we want to be among the best.

And you want people to know each other?

You want a proper communal space. I play like any other customer at the club.

I participate in open matches, which means you play with people you don’t know. It is a lovely way to get to know people and I would love for that to be a thing within the club – you come in here when it’s busy, you meet other players. You get to know people, new friends and new padel partners.

Padium Canary Wharf

You do a lot of events here as well?

Loads. More and more companies are looking to do events, which don’t revolve around just drinking alcohol. It’s super popular: you come here, you play, you have a tournament, there’s an element of a competition but once the competition is over, you come up to the mezzanine floor and we do drinks and food. When we do big tournaments, we always play the final on the centre court where everyone can stay up here and watch the game. It’s good fun!

What are you most proud of here?

We created a brand that I think really represents us well. We wanted to stand out a little bit from the crowd. We didn’t want to have a ‘padel’ in the name. In the very short period of time that we’ve been around, everyone knows about us, even from different countries. So that’s really great. I’m very proud of my staff members. And of course the club itself is beautiful. As I said, it’s a first draft but it’s a very good first draft – and there’s more to come. 

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