London’s Best Private Members’ Clubs

Bllnr profiles the most exclusive private watering holes in the UK capital.

The Arts Club, Mayfair

Private members’ clubs have the upper hand of exclusivity, which earns them a longer shelf-life among the UK capital’s young and chic. Several names are household but there are a few newer additions becoming popular among the young and beautiful.

Groucho Club, 45 Dean Street, Soho

This Soho hotspot is a perennial favourite among the international jet-set, who come here to relax, unwind and, just occasionally, behave disgracefully. With a ruthless membership criteria and a reputation as the hardest joint to get into in town, it has remained one of the city’s most exclusive boltholes since it opened 30 years ago. It has had a few recent nips and tucks, including the installation of a lift, but the 1980s aesthetics and charm remain.

Joining fee — under 30s, £350/year (+ £100 registration fee); over 30s: £850/year (+ £250 registration fee)
Membership criteria — proposer and a seconder

Join if you work in the creative industry, enjoy partying with like-minded people and you live between London and New York.

Soho House, 40 Greek Street, Soho

The original Soho House at 40 Greek Street is discreetly situated on top of Café Boheme and accessed through a private black door. There are several rooms, each armed with a bar serving every cocktail from the 1920s to today. This is the charm of the place; its eccentric rooms, odd furniture and hard chairs are a breath of fresh air and it doesn’t feel overly commercial.

Joining fee — under 27s: £400/year (+ £100 registration fee) Greek Street and Dean Street only; £800/year for international membership; over 27s: £800/year (+ £200 registration fee) Greek Street and Dean Street only; £1,400 for international membership
Membership criteria — proposer and a seconder

Join if you enjoy rubbing shoulders with people in the arts world, you are constantly travelling and you can’t get into the Groucho.

Soho House

The Arts Club, 40 Dover Street, Mayfair

On the fun side of Mayfair — the bit where you find dress shops, jewellers and the odd pub — is The Arts Club. This 150-year-old Dover Street hangout is a London institution, the epitome of sheer glamour. The property is both substantial and imposing, with a staircase that overflows onto the road. And it’s big, with rooms, restaurants, dance floors, lifts and numerous bars. Take note of the vast, elegant rooms propped up by vaulted ceilings and cornicing, and you realise why it’s often in the press, attracting A-listers from Gwyneth Paltrow to Jay Z and Beyoncé.

Joining fee — under 30s: £1,000/year (+£1,000 registration fee); over 30s: £2,000/year (+£2,000 registration fee)
Membership criteria — proposer and a seconder

Join if you work in a hedge fund or private bank in St James’s or Mayfair, and you want somewhere chic for pre-dinner sharpeners.

5 Hertford Street, 5 Hertford Street, Mayfair

In an 18th century townhouse, through a narrow, unsigned wooden door, is 5 Hertford Street. If you are looking for glamour or sophistication, 5 Hertford Street does not disappoint. The spiral staircase entrance is hugged by walls peppered with mirrors, breathing an elegance that reflects what is inside. There is a labyrinth of rooms, dance floors, courtyards and restaurants. The cocktails and food are excellent, the service is unparalleled and the tables are set up in booths, offering privacy uncommon in central London. The real party starts after midnight when the young and beautiful flock to the dance floor in the nightclub, Lou-Lou’s. If opulence is what you want from a club, look no further.

Joining fee — all ages: £1,500 (+ £750 registration fee)
Membership criteria — proposer and a seconder

Join if you want unrivalled glamour, expensive cocktails and a louche crowd. Not for impoverished arty types.

5 Hertford Street's cocktail bar

Chelsea Arts Club, 143 Old Church Street, Chelsea

Nestled in the heart of Chelsea lies the Chelsea Arts Club. The good food and palatable wine is not the main attraction — it is the ambience. The dark green felt walls, peppered with portraits of long-gone members and benefactors, give the dining room a once-upon-a-time smoky ambience. Walk through the French doors and into an exquisite acre-long garden. Clambering beneath the trees that drape their trunks over the outside seating, one appreciates the sheer privilege of the place. People talk fondly of faded charm and the Chelsea Arts Club certainly has a feel of a London bygone Who’s Who.

Joining fee — under 30s: £199/year (+ £200 registration fee); over 30s: £536/year (+ £200 registration fee)
Membership criteria — Proposer and a seconder

Join if you like the unpretentious simple life and don’t care about being seen. You want to relax in Chelsea in a large garden, play backgammon and sip rosé.


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