When it comes to private members clubs, there are a few things that come to mind – bespoke service, excellent cuisine, eminent clientele and exquisite décor. However, there is more to this. While some patrons may opt for luxury and networking, others may find a place to unleash their creative self and reform their well-being. Thronging such places are personalities hailing from various industries across the world.
But how does one gain entry into these coveted exclusive clubs? From Soho Houses across the globe to centuries-old Blacks Club and the regal Kee Club in Shanghai, here is what you need to know about these private members clubs and how they handpick their people.
The Core: Club (NYC and Milan)
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In 2005, Jennie and Dangene Enterprise launched New York’s one of the most elite social clubs which is touted for its curation of zeitgeist global visionaries who believe in fueling extraordinary success around the world. You may run into Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz or ex-US President Bill Clinton.
Based on the concept of a “self-selecting community”, every individual in the team has to make a deposit of $100,000 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 respective fields. Trained in emotional-intelligence testing, Enterprise’s staff caters to members’ preferences, including the choice of drinks, food and suites for out-of-town members.
The Core’s team boasts about their selection process not based on money or family name, but personalities who are innovators with original perspectives from 13 industries, including architecture, art, finance, healthcare, fashion, hospitality, science, sports and technology. These probables are shortlisted, and Jennie and Dangene pick those who are “beautifully restless”, as told to Vanity Fair. Thereafter, the hand-picked individuals pay a fee of $50,000 (approx. HK$ 3,89,082) and an annual fee of $15,000 (approx. HK$ 1,16,723), along with a recommendation from an existing member, according to Entrepreneur.com.
The NYC building houses a state-of-the-art theatre for learning and entertainment, a dining room where dishes by Chef de Cuisine Marc Howard are severed, and a library with a collection of classic, modern and contemporary works, among other spaces. Now open in Milan, Italy, the handful ultra-rich and powerful who walk in through the doors of 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 Thames River in Fulham is a surreal green oasis, offering first-class private social and sporting activities to those with membership. Internationally renowned, it is one of Britain’s greatest private members’ clubs which has been able to hold on to the tradition and heritage of the country as well as provide modern amenities to stay relevant to both current and future generations.
However, like any other private members’ club, this too has a stringent selection process and only those who share similar goals and values would find an entry to experience the grand clubhouses, numerous rooms and terraces. The members may get a chance to see tennis Rafael Nadal practise just before Wimbledon. Apparently, King Edward VII engaged in pigeon shooting here. On entering the glass-domed Palm Court, which is the reception area, esteemed guests get a taste of delicious modern and traditional canapés and scotch eggs prepared by world-renowned chefs.
The perfectly manicured grounds have held glamorous occasions such as luxury car shows, Fête Champêtre & Concours d’Elégance and Dinner & Carols by Candlelight attended by royalty and celebrities. The elite club also meets other expectations that may require spaces to host luncheons and dinners with 1,000 guests, conferences with 800 delegates and a theatre for 180 members.
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 glorious history of the building housing the private club dates back to the Georgian era. After almost 200 years, 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, however, it was restored to its original supper club heritage of 1964, when a closed group of people gathered to talk about day-to-day issues over food and wine.
When it comes to joining this private members’ club, one must be “extraordinarily interesting and interested”. Members are advised to leave their egos behind to indulge in elegant and honest discussions to set the world on its right course. Among the options of annual memberships (approx. HK$ 6,400) and joint memberships for couples (approx. HK$ 9,000), members can also choose other suitable plans.
Members can relish à la carte dishes such as sautéed chicken livers, baked camembert, and cannon of lamb, among others, accompanied by an array of the most exquisite wines, champagnes, whiskeys and different types of cocktails. Exclusive guests, seated in the cozy den embellished with painting and wooden candlelit tables, can appreciate fashion and art exhibits or enjoy musical nights showcasing gigs by eminent musicians.
39 Monte Carlo (Monaco)
Find the best of both worlds at the members-only 39 Monte Carlo club in Monaco. The elite 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.
Additionally, they 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 to treatments in order to recover from sports and everyday life.
To join one of the world’s finest fitness spaces, you may choose from the four types of memberships, including those which last for 30 days or go on for a whole year.
Soho House (UK, Europe, Asia and North America)
Among 22 luxurious Houses in the UK, Europe, Asia, and North America combined, Soho House allows non-members at Redchurch Townhouse, Istanbul, Mumbai and Amsterdam as well. At all other locations, Soho House restricts its privileges to members only.
Founded in 1995, the first member’s club opened on London’s Greek Street. Soho House now offers many types of memberships, including every house and local house, across its locations. 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 young and like-minded people with beautiful spaces to explore and be creative, Soho Houses lay equal emphasis on food with its diverse line of 15 restaurants.
Existing club members decide who walks into the doors of the Houses, and the idea behind handpicking its members is to shift focus from the wealthy to build communities of members with a creative soul.
KEE Club Shanghai (China)
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Located in the twin stone villas from the 1920s, Kee Club Shanghai offers 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 among others. Sportspersons like Hidetoshi Nakata and LeBron James also frequent the club.
With its refined salon culture that has been nurtured over many years, KEE Club Shanghai serves dishes from its traditional and revolutionary menus prepared by Michelin-star chef Bjoern Alexander, where he infuses German food with Japanese gastronomy. While the elegant restaurant allows members to host business lunches, 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.
If you wish to join this club, one usually needs to be recommended, or write to info@KEEclub.com to know more about the membership.
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 as well as 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, as well as marvellous 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 – the all-dining and bar restaurant – allows the members to experience the magnificent view of the city while enjoying Japanese and American cuisines, or simply 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 getting a membership need to request for an application which is then subject to a screening process by the Roppongi Hills Club Membership Office. The membership includes an initiation fee (approx. HK$ 93,213), an initiation deposit (approx. HK$ 35,311) and annual dues (approx. HK$ 13,983) which are paid in advance.
The Wing (US)
Touted for its ultra-rich interiors, high-end toiletries and in-house cafés, The Wing promises to provide a safe and community-building professional workspace with a range of opportunities to build your network. With its offices in New York City, California, Massachusetts and Illinois, the women’s club demands from its members to uphold the sanctity of the place as well as its members regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age.
Its plush décor draped in pink, colour-coded books as well as a childcare centre makes working from the club conducive for all women – be it new mothers or aspiring young entrepreneurs. 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 inspiring talks here.
Extending its culture code, The Wing offers membership to those who qualify a stringent screening process which includes applicants to talk about who your dream dinner party guests are and a description of something you’re proud of. In 2019, the club’s US premises were purview to a waiting list of 35,000, according to the Evening Standard. The article adds that the members must pay a fee of $2,700 (approx. HK$ 21,010) annually.
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 prestigious 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 and sports like billiards, chess, golf, tennis and squash, it also has a gymnasium, swimming pool and a multi-purpose hall. The 156-year-old establishment houses seven restaurants where its members can immerse in the exquisite signature dishes served in intimate dining spaces.
Additionally, members can visit any of the over 130 reciprocal clubs across the globe. However, to get a membership of the club, you will have to wait for years and only an existing member with at least three years of membership will have to recommend you. Moreover, you’ll have to pay a one-time entrance fee of $100,000 (approx. HK$ 7,78,164) for Ordinary/Lifetime membership, along with monthly subscription fees of $107 (approx. HK$ 832) per person and $214 (approx. HK$ 1,665) for couples and families, according to Tatler Singapore.
Australian Club (Australia)
Established in 1838 in central Sydney, this club offers beautiful views of the North Shore along with the lush greenery of the Royal Botanic Garden. Touted as one of the most prestigious gentleman’s clubs south of the equator, it adheres to a dress code for its members and guests. While the men must be dressed in a long-sleeved jacket and tie, 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 houses a private dining space for a maximum of 80 people, a library, a gym with personal trainers, ensuite bedrooms, apartments and a Clubhouse on the seventh floor.
However, the method of gaining 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.
(Main and featured images: The Tanglin Club/Facebook)