THE MOST EXCLUSIVE CLUBS TO JOIN IN THE CITY
Tim Badham, Founder of London’s leading concierge company, Inner Place, gives us the lowdown
London is best known for two things: bad weather and private members’ clubs. Nowhere in the world are private clubs as popular and exclusive as they are in the swinging city. These clubs can be tricky to get into – some don’t even operate membership waiting lists anymore. If you even manage to make it on the list, usually a current respectable member (or two) will have to propose you to join the establishment, before the committee gets their hands on your profile for some serious vetting. Here’s a list of London’s best private clubs worth knowing.
1. Full-On Glamour: Annabel's
The flagship of Richard Caring’s Birley Group, and one of the most stunning and sought-after members clubs in London, has been transformed from a grand English country house to an over-the-top dramatic and alluring hot spot. The ubiquitous interior designer, Martin Brudnizki, had a whopping £65m budget to play with. The garden terrace and the night club are particularly in demand; the Mexican restaurant is excellent, and the top-floor cigar terrace is a great place to hang out whilst occasionally spotting an A-lister.
WHERE: 46 BERKELEY SQUARE, W1J 5AT
2. So English: 5 Hertford Street
When Robin Birley, son of the night club owner Mark Birley who owns Annabel’s made a decision to launch a new members’ club that captured an intimate atmosphere of high-society informal gatherings, he acquired an old atmospheric pub. Perched on the edge of Shepherds Market – a charming old square with an “olde-worlde feel”, it had a coveted Mayfair location flavoured with a salacious reputation of the neighbourhood, historically famous for ladies of the night. This exclusive English members club incorporates multiple restaurants and bars, a courtyard with a fireplace and a cosy outdoor terrace. It attracts both blue-bloods and A-listers, mature and young. It offers the right mix of traditional heritage and contemporary luxury. Just like the old Annabel’s, it has a genuine lived-in feel. A warren of nooks and crannies add character and a very private feel. Things get jolly after midnight when all action moves to the basement club Loulou’s.
WHERE: 2-5 HERTFORD STREET, W1J 7RB
3. Liquid Gold: Oswald's
This is the sister club of 5 Hertford Street. It looks like Oswald’s was created with only one thing in mind – wine. It’s ideal for oenophiles. Yes, dining is beautiful here, and yes, the lounge is lovely, and the terrace upstairs is cosy, but it’s the wine room and wine prices make this club so special. All wines are sold at retail prices once you’re a member. There’s an extra perk too: you can store your own wine in a private locker. The membership is a savvy investment for wine lovers not happy to pay three or four times the price for a bottle in other venues, which they may have in their own collection at home.
WHERE: 25 ALBEMARLE STREET, W1S 4HU
4. Garden Party: Home House
This is a great all-rounder: a traditional quiet wing – check, a contemporary buzzing wing – check, a subterranean gym, a club, several bars and the largest garden of any central members club – check, check, check and check. Let’s not forget the central London location in Marylebone and swanky rooms upstairs. Split into two sides, there’s the more traditional ‘House 20’ with bars, lounges and a sweeping staircase centrepiece, and the newly refurbished ‘House 21,’ which has a more contemporary touch. All in all, this makes it a favourable choice for a members’ club.
5. Cosy At Home: Blacks
A hidden gem in Soho, spread over a bijou townhouse, from basement to roof, restored to its original Georgian glory. Its walls are adorned with great art and an overall feel is traditional but quirky. Originally founded as a supper club, it gained a reputation as a bohemian drinking den. Blacks is an excellent choice for those who love their clubs to have a cosy homey feel. You don’t have to leave your four-legged friends at home – Blacks is dog-friendly.
WHERE: 67 DEAN STREET, W1D 4QH
6. Showbiz HQ: Century Club
Tucked away behind a discreet door on Shaftesbury Avenue, this club is spread across four floors. There are cool bars and lounges throughout. Also, there are meeting rooms, event spaces and restaurants. But its best kept secret is the stunning rooftop terrace, one of the largest rooftop spaces in Soho as its crowning jewel. Located in Soho, it naturally caters to a creative, theatrical and showbiz clientele who provide a great audience for the club’s live events, talks and music nights.
7. Let's Do Business: 12 Hay Hill
Located just off Berkeley square, 12 Hay Hill predominantly a business members club. The interiors are luxurious, yet comfortable. Set up your mobile office in the heart of Mayfair – one of London’s most exclusive neighbourhoods. It has excellent food and a perfect space for working and having meetings. The rooftop terrace is also a secret find.
WHERE: 12 HAY HILL, W1J 2NR
8. What’s On The Menu: Harry’s Bar
Harry’s bar is home to one of the best members’ restaurants in London. With its sophisticated décor (Venetian chandeliers, Murano glassware and Fortuny fabrics), an old-school service and superlative food, it’s rightly dubbed as one of the most elegant private members’ clubs in London. Part of the Birley group it’s the quieter, all-knowing older brother to Annabel’s young exuberance.
9. City Boys Cool: Eight Club
Situated in both Bank and Moorgate, you get a two for one deal which works for us – even in the land of exclusive membership. Join Eight in the City (Bank) and you get in at their Moorgate club too. Eight is a dark and cosy escape den for cool city kids, equipped with poker rooms, pool tables, leather sofas, and one bright and airy room on the roof. Fun and friendly, it’s great for business meetings during the day, after-work gym sessions, and evening entertaining.
WHERE: 1 CHANGE ALLEY, EC3V 3ND
10. Hip In The City: The Ned
Connected to Soho House this City offshoot welcomes financial and business clientele but maintains much of the Soho chic exclusivity. Sprawled over eight floors, it’s so huge you could probably fit all clubs of the Soho House empire clubs inside it. What’s on offer? Lavish hotel rooms, 10 restaurants, historical event and relaxation spaces, meeting rooms, a huge swimming pool, sultry cocktail bars and clubs in the basement vault and a stunning roof terrace, compete with a pool.
11. Hipster Central: The Curtain
One of the coolest clubs in London’s hip Shoreditch. The Curtain has a hotel and guests get access to all of the member’s areas, which include a screening room, a stunning rooftop terrace with a pool, a nightclub, a subterranean lounge bar and a cool events programme – everything a self-respecting hipster, tech entrepreneur or more discerning city adventurer could want.
12. High-Flyers: Ten Trinity Square
The address says it all: the club is tucked away at the back of from the City’s hustle and bustle inside the luxurious Four Seasons hotel near Tower Bridge. Grand and impressive, Ten Trinity Square is perfect for city tycoons and CEOs. It attracts a discerning and sophisticated clientele, who can appreciate its Beaux Arts architecture, classic drawing rooms, a cigar lounge and a billiards hall. There is food to match from the celebrated Michelin-starred French chef, Anne-Sophie Pic. The beautifully designed Chateau Latour wine room has some precious vintages to be shared with its members.
WHERE: 10 TRINITY SQUARE, EC3N 4AJ
13. Naughty But Nice: The Arts Club
This impressive Mayfair building has been playing host to a club with the same name for decades. Several years ago, under the new committee, the tired interiors went through an impressive innovation and the club has been enjoying somewhat of a recent revival. It’s a stunning and spacious club with areas for fine dining, smoking cigars and dancing. Leo’s nightclub is one of the hottest tickets in town when it comes to live music and dancing. Above the club sit three storeys of Art Deco inspired hotel rooms. They’ve even added a special Lanserhof and health spa just over the road.
WHERE: 40 DOVER STREET, W1S 4NP
14. Come Wine With Me: 67 Pall Mall
Created for oenophiles by oenophiles, 67 Pall Mall is an innovative modern members club with a concept entirely focused around wine. Launched inside a converted bank building it utilises the old vault as wine cellars. Members can store bottles of their own wine or choose from the 5,000 bottles on the club list, sold at close to retail prices. Born out of its hedge funders own wish for a sanctuary to enjoy their own wines. It’s perfect for wine lovers and it has excellent burgers too. It became so popular that they were forced to close the membership before the official launch.
WHERE: 67 PALL MALL, SW1Y 5ES
15. Cosy Corner: Little House
The nicest and most discreet London Soho House outpost in elegant Mayfair. Perfect for business meetings and catch-ups with friends. Bijou by design with excellent Mediterranean food and cocktails in a cosy and charming atmosphere. Not to mention some beautiful, homey-style residences upstairs.
WHERE: 2 QUEEN STREET, W1J 5PA