What are London’s most desirable private members’ clubs? In this article I will be sharing 5 of the best and most exclusive that London has to offer.
I am not sure how popular private members clubs are where you are, but in London, they are highly popular, and a new club seems to be sprouting up every day. Maybe it’s because our home spaces are so small, and people can live fairly far out from the city centre, so membership in a club makes a lot of sense and many cases can function as a sort of extension of your living room. They are comfortable places to network, entertain, work and, depending on the theme or focus, you can interact with like-minded people from similar industries or interest groups.
By way of history, members clubs became quite fashionable about 100 years ago, these gentleman’s clubs were ultra-exclusive, offering high society men an escape from the pressures of work and family, with potential members judged on their eligibility by class and gender, with most being for men only. Today clubs may restrict membership based on industry, gender, or social outreach.
In today’s article, I wanted to share 5 of the most exclusive and sought after private members clubs in London, with future articles sharing clubs with specific themes or interests such as one which is dedicated to wine lovers!
Annabel’s in Mayfair
The first on the list in today’s article is Annabel’s in Mayfair, which is probably the most exclusive and sought-after club in London. Since opening in 1963, Annabel’s has built its reputation as the go-to spot for celebrity party lovers. Everyone from Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, and Elizabeth Taylor have taken a turn on the dance floor at Annabel’s, and recently Rhianna was spotted at the club for a night of celebration after receiving an award.
After experiencing a £55 million makeover completed in 2018, which saw it move from the basement of 44 Berkeley Square, to a Grade I listed townhouse at 46 Berkeley square. The new space now accommodates 4 restaurants and at least 7 bars across 4 floors. In addition, there is a garden terrace, a cigar salon, private dining rooms, spa, and even a dog walker on site!
Expanding beyond just a nightlife spot, the new club now offers practically a 24-hour experience. The interior design creates an eccentric, surreal space, while there is an overarching garden theme across the individually distinct rooms. There is a grand stone staircase, elaborate silk flowered ceilings, and Rococo fireplaces. While you pretty much can’t take pictures at Annabel’s, the bathrooms are worth dying for and I am sure you can sneak a shot. If you are interested in joining, make sure you apply now, and maybe in a few years you may actually get in, as the waiting list is years long.
Arts Club in Mayfair
Next up is the Arts Club, founded in 1863, and according to their website “by men of vision in order to provide a haven for those people who had professional or amateur relationships with the Arts, Literature, or Sciences”. Today, the Arts Club still retains an aura of creativity, leisure, and pleasure for those connected to the art world, looking for a place to eat, drink, or dance. One of the absolute best nights I’ve ever had in London was dancing in the basement club at the Arts Club.
Located in the heart of Mayfair on Dover street, the club also hosts amazing art installations and has close proximity to some of London’s most prestigious and exclusive art galleries. Anyone who wants to be a member needs to have some interest and experience in film, music, fashion, theatre, photography, or art.
Home House at 20 Portman Square
In 1773, George III’s architect, James Wyatt, was commissioned by Elizabeth, Countess of Home, to build a sophisticated “Pavilion” designed purely for enjoyment and entertainment at No 20 Portman Square.
In 1775, Wyatt was fired from the project, and his competitor, Robert Adam, one of the most celebrated architects of his day, was appointed to complete the interior of the house in the Neo-Classical style. No 20 Portman Square is recognised as Robert Adam’s finest surviving London town house. The interior is conceived as a series of grand reception rooms, beginning with a typically austere hall, leading to one of the most breath taking pieces in European architecture: Adam’s Imperial staircase, which rises through the entire height of the house to a glass dome, revealing the sky above.
Membership is generally open to everyone but is reviewed by a membership committee on a monthly basis. There are a great assortment of events for members and I love that as an individual you can go any particular night and enjoy a wide range of entertainment whether that’s live performances, poetry readings, or member sponsored events.
Soho House in Soho (and worldwide)
First founded in London in 1995 on Greek Street in Soho as a private members club for people in the creative industries, Soho House has expanded across Europe, North America, and Asia. There are 22 sister posts and having full house membership gives you access to all of them. I personally love the amazing rooftop pool at Shoreditch House which truly screams Hollywood glamour.
5 Hertford Club in Mayfair
5 Hertford Club is the most discreet and “under the radar” of the clubs I have mentioned so far. This indistinct townhouse with a red door is very easy to miss on the street, and is located down the alley of Mayfair’s Shepherds Market. The club is owned by Robin Birley, son of Annabel’s Mark Birley.
When you enter, the understated becomes riotous – with a cacophony of exotic prints and a style that exudes English country home meeting modern day glamour.
Loulou’s, the club in the basement, is opulent, spacious, and even includes a stuffed giraffe! It is often frequented by the beautiful and famous including the likes of Adwoa Aboah, Cara Delevingne, and Colin Firth, with photographers never too far away to capture the A-list crowd. It’s also become a go-to spot for politicians with significant chance encounters being reported regularly in the press.
I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into some of London’s most exclusive private members clubs, and if you are looking for a home away from home, then a private members club may be a great place to network, engage, be entertained, and of course be seen! If perhaps you live outside London or frequent it regularly for business, some of the clubs offer memberships for those who live overseas.