Private members’ clubs mean excellent cuisine, exquisite decor, and the best service possible. However, there’s more to them. We take you through some of the most exclusive private clubs and how they pick their members. By Anurupa Sen
When it comes to private members’ clubs, bespoke service, excellent cuisine, eminent clientele and exquisite décor come to mind. However, there is more to them. While some patrons opt for luxury and networking, others find a place to unleash their creative selves. Thronging such places are personalities hailing from various industries across the world.
But how does one gain entry into these coveted clubs? Here’s what you need to know about private members’ clubs and how they handpick their people.
The Core: Club (New York City and Milan)
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In 2005, Jennie and Dangene Enterprise launched one of New York’s most elite social clubs, touted for its curation of global visionaries who believe in fuelling extraordinary success around the world. Based on the concept of a “self-selecting community”, every individual has to make a deposit of USD 100,000 (INR 74,11,950) and nominate another remarkable person. From world-famous chefs to brand directors and fitness experts, The Core’s team consists of people who are leaders in their fields, such as Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz or ex-USA President Bill Clinton.
The Core’s selection process is not based on money or family name, but on personalities who are innovators with original perspectives from 13 industries, including architecture, art, finance, healthcare, fashion, hospitality, science, sports and technology. These people are shortlisted, and Jennie and Dangene pick those who are “beautifully restless,” as told to Vanity Fair. Then, the hand-picked individuals pay a fee of USD 50,000 (INR 37,05,975) and an annual fee of USD 15,000 (INR 11,11,455.75), along with a recommendation from an existing member, reports Entrepreneur.com.
The NYC building includes a state-of-the-art theatre, a dining room where dishes by Chef de Cuisine Marc Howard are served, and a library housing classic, modern and contemporary works. Now open in Milan, Italy, members who walk into the 4,000 square metre-club can immerse in the magnificence of bold graffiti-style art from Bushwick Collective, soft electro-house music and exquisite dishes.
The Hurlingham Club (London)
The sprawling 42 acres of The Hurlingham Club along the Thames in Fulham is a surreal green oasis, offering members first-class private social and sporting activities. One of Britain’s greatest private members’ clubs, it has been able to hold on to the country’s heritage as well as provide modern amenities, to stay relevant to both current and future generations.
The club has a stringent selection process and only those who share similar goals and values get entry. The members may get a chance to see tennis star Rafael Nadal practise just before Wimbledon. Apparently, King Edward VII engaged in pigeon shooting here.
The perfectly manicured grounds have held events such as luxury car shows, Fête Champêtre & Concours d’Elégance and Dinner & Carols by Candlelight, attended by royalty and celebrities. However, the fees for joining the club remains undisclosed. Moreover, one must wait for admissions to reopen as the waiting list is “subject to annual review.”
Blacks Club (London)
Built in 1732, the building housing the private club dates back to the Georgian era. The Blacks Club came into existence in 1992 as a response to White’s club – London‘s so-called gentlemen’s club. Years later, the exclusive club came to be known as a “louche bohemian drinking den.” In 2014, it was restored to its original supper club heritage of 1964.
Whose wishing to join the club must be “extraordinarily interesting and interested.” Apart from annual memberships (INR 61,029) and joint memberships for couples (INR 85,825), members can also choose from other plans.
Members can relish à la carte delights accompanied by an array of exquisite wines, champagnes, whiskeys and cocktails. The guests, seated in the cosy den embellished with painting and wooden candlelit tables, can appreciate fashion and art exhibits or enjoy musical nights by eminent musicians.
39 Monte Carlo (Monaco)
Find the best of both worlds at the members-only 39 Monte Carlo club. The sports club’s “make life better” philosophy emphasises on fitness, luxury and beauty. Members of this chic, discreet, social club can reform their lifestyles by opting for various programmes.
Created by former international rugby player Ross Beattie, the private members’ club blends the Monégasque culture with luxurious contemporary furnishings, making it an impeccable choice for renowned international athletes and sportspersons.
Members can avail a bespoke plan drawn out by fitness professionals and nutritionists and use the state-of-the-art equipment, wine and dine with meals prepared by top chefs, as well as relax and unwind. You can choose from the four types of memberships ranging from 30 days to a year.
Soho House (UK, Europe, Asia and North America)
Among 22 luxurious Houses in the UK, Europe, Asia, and North America, Soho House allows non-members at Redchurch Townhouse, Istanbul, Mumbai and Amsterdam as well. At other locations, Soho House restricts its privileges to members only.
Founded in 1995, the first member’s club opened on London’s Greek Street. While it flaunts its luxurious amenities to its high-end members, it does not shy away from keeping it cool. From a touch of elegance to lounge spaces, spas, and restaurants to providing people with beautiful spaces to explore and unleash their creativity, Soho Houses lay equal emphasis on food with its diverse line of 15 restaurants.
KEE Club Shanghai (China)
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Located in the twin stone villas from the 1920s, Kee Club Shanghai allows its members to dwell in the invigorating and private environment and immerse in the finest art, food, wine, music and design. Its clientele includes actress Gwyneth Paltrow, musicians Mick Jagger and Sting, actor Jude Law, former US President Bill Clinton, and Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. Sportspersons such as Hidetoshi Nakata and LeBron James also frequent the club.
With its refined salon culture, KEE Club Shanghai serves dishes from its traditional and revolutionary menus prepared by Michelin-star chef Bjoern Alexander, who infuses German food with Japanese gastronomy. The club’s wooden floors, high ceilings and French windows looking into a secret garden conjure the perfect setting for formal as well as romantic dinner. To join this club, one usually needs to be recommended, or you can write to info@KEEclub.com to know more.
Roppongi Hills Club (Japan)
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This members-only club provides a suitable culturally-infused atmosphere for leaders across industries and countries to hold elaborate business seminars and discuss art and culture. The Library Cafe, the Great Books Library and Library Alley on the 49th floor are free to access for club’s members.
The ensemble of the most spectacular restaurants and bars makes Roppongi Hills Club one of the most sought-after private clubs in the world. Situated on the 51st floor of the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, Fifty-One allows the members to experience the magnificent view of the city while enjoying Japanese and American cuisines, or relax with a cup of coffee. Members also have the luxury of choosing private dining spaces available at The Sushi Bar, the Italian dining room La Cucina, the modern Chinese restaurant Star Anise as well as the plush French-European restaurant French Private Dining.
Those interested in a membership need to request for an application which, is then subject to a screening process. The membership includes an initiation fee (approx. HKD 93,213 or INR 8,88,750), an initiation deposit (INR 3,36,729) and annual dues (INR 1,33,343), paid in advance.
The Wing (USA)
Touted for its ultra-rich interiors, high-end toiletries and in-house cafés, The Wing provides a safe, community-building professional workspace with network-building opportunities. With offices in NYC, California, Massachusetts and Illinois, the women’s club demands its members to uphold the sanctity of the place as well as its members.
Its plush décor draped in pink, and colour-coded books as well as a childcare centre makes working from the club conducive for all women. It also hosts some of the biggest debates on gender, power and corporate feminism. Famous women like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Jennifer Lawrence have given talks here.
Extending its culture code, The Wing offers membership to those who qualify a stringent screening process. In 2019, the club’s premises in the USA were purview to a waiting list of 35,000, according to the Evening Standard. The article adds that the members must pay an annual fee of USD 2,700 (INR 2,00,171).
The Tanglin Club (Singapore)
This private club came into being in 1865 when “forty men good and true” decided to set up a suburban social club for the elite British living in the Far East. With 4,000 members, the club’s fame has transcended borders and its members belong to more than 70 countries.
What makes The Tanglin Club the perfect choice for a stay are its 27 luxurious suites with modern amenities. Along with a host of recreational activities such as billiards, chess, golf, tennis and squash, it also has a gymnasium, swimming pool and a multi-purpose hall. The 156-year-old establishment has seven restaurants where members can immerse in signature dishes in intimate dining spaces.
Additionally, members can visit any of the over 130 reciprocal clubs across the globe. However, to get a membership, you’ll have to wait for years, as only an existing member with at least three years of membership can recommend you. Moreover, you’ll have to pay a one-time entrance fee of USD 100,000 (INR 74,11,950) for Ordinary/Lifetime membership, along with monthly subscription fees of USD 107 (INR 7,933) per person and USD 214 (INR 15,865) for couples and families, according to Tatler Singapore.
Australian Club (Australia)
Established in 1838 in central Sydney, the club offers beautiful views of the North Shore along with greenery of the Royal Botanic Garden. Touted as one of the most prestigious gentleman’s clubs, it has a dress code for members and guests – men must be dressed in a long-sleeved jacket and tie, while women can wear dresses, skirts, tailored trousers with a jacket or evening pants. The club has a strict no denim policy.
With a mix of traditional and modern amenities, the Australian Club has a private dining space for upto 80 people, a library, a gym with personal trainers, ensuite bedrooms, apartments and a Clubhouse.
However, the process of getting a membership in this approximately 3000-member club remains undisclosed. Various dignitaries, including former Australian Prime Ministers John Howard and Malcolm Turnbull, form the esteemed list of members of this club.