Where do London’s affluent and in-the-know love to talk business, eat the finest poached eggs on sourdough, and enjoy the odd Old Fashioned, on a Tuesday, at lunch? Sure there’s the usual haunts; but, when the capital’s elite want to escape the masses, entertain their biggest clients, or do one of those Friday 3pm meetings that somehow last until Sunday, they turn to a members’ club. Exclusive and damn hard to get into, a golden ticket to a private institution is a sign of status and good taste.
So, to help you cut the wheat from the chaff, we’ve rounded up the finest clubs the capital has to offer, from Soho’s most famous creative hub to the City’s latest hangout…
The best for the literary set: The Groucho Club
Established in the mid-Eighties, The Groucho Club was opened in order to provide a refreshing alternative to the more pretentious gentlemen’s clubs of the time. As a result, it’s made a name as the original private hub for the arts and media circles, and today it still continues to usher in the upper echelon of the UK’s creative industry.
- Best bottle: 2017 Sancerre, Bridgitte et Daniel Chotard
- Best plate: Baked scallops, hazelnut, chilli & garlic butter
£950/year (+£250 joining fee)
The Groucho Club
The best for international travellers: Soho House, Greek Street
Recently renovated, this world-renowned institution occupies five historic Georgian townhouses, with an outdoor courtyard, roof deck, bar, restaurant and club rooms. And, for that added touch of stylish heritage, it’s the first Soho House — a real piece of clubland history.
- Best bottle: Chateau Moulin de la Rose, Saint Julien, Cru Bourgeois
- Best plate: Urfa salmon green aioli, gochujang, mustard
£1,100 (+ £400 joining fee)
Soho House, Greek Street
The club where creatives and financiers come together: The Art’s Club
Known as a refuge for those in the world of art, architecture, fashion, film, literature, music and theatre, The Art’s Club – with its perfectly-curated body of permanent, historic and temporary collections – certainly lives up to its moniker. Look out for live music, from Sam Smith and Mark Ronson to Idris Elba.
- Best bottle: 1997 Bandol “Cabassaou” Domaine Tempier
- Best plate: Kyubites (small crisp potato chips)
Over 30s: £2,000/year (+ £2,000 joining fee)
Under 30s: £1,000/year (+ £1,000 joining fee)
The Art's Club
The best for those who value their privacy: 5 Hertford St
What do George and Amal Clooney, Mick Jagger and Leonardo DiCaprio all have in common? 5 Hertford Street as a stomping ground, that’s what. Perched on the corner of Shepherd’s Market in Mayfair, this is one of the most secretive clubs in London, frequented by royals, billionaires, and A-listers alike.
- Best bottle: Chateau Lafite 1961
- Best plate: Dover Sole
5 Hertford Street
The best for those who appreciate heritage: 67 Pall Mall
This striking club used to be Hambros Bank, and the building still has the original bank vaults in its cellars — including the Chatworth invincible safe. That’s just part of the quirky money decor — which also includes notes from other banks pinned on the the wall.
- Best bottle: 1995 tant pis!
- Best plate: Lobster & truffled potato salad
£1,500, plus £1,500 joining fee
67 Pall Mall
The best if you don’t want a club in St James’s: Mark’s Club
Mark’s Club is an elegant and traditional private members’ club, situated in a beautiful townhouse in Mayfair. Club Director Darius Namdar, winner of the Habanos Sommelier World Championship in Havana, will help you out with your cigar recommendations, after a meal of the famous Limousin veal chop — or the below…
- Best bottle: 1967 Graves Chateau Haut Brion
- Best plate: The Cheese Soufflé
£2,000 a year, plus £1,000 joining fee
The best for wine connoisseurs: Oswald's
Named after owner Robin Birley’s grandfather, Oswald’s is a club for both men and women — with a huge focus on wine. Arguably one step up in luxury from Birley’s 5 Hertford Street, members can either cellar their own wine here, or buy in house and then enjoy them in the ground floor restaurant or on the small rear terrace.
- Best bottle: Le Montrachet 2010 Domaine de la Romanee Conti
- Best plate: Risotto Milanese
The best for simple artistic fun: Chelsea Arts Club
On Old Church Street, Chelsea Arts Club has a membership of almost 4,000 — each and every one more artistic than the last. It’s an inspiring atmosphere (go for the garden alone) but the best perk is surely the twice yearly Chelsea Art fancy dress balls — a cultural phenomenon since 1908.
- Best bottle: According to the club, pints of Guinness are popular
- Best plate: A simple steak and chips
£598, plus £295 joining fee
Chelsea Arts Club
The best for gastronomers: George
Founded in 2001, George is a contemporary private members’ club with restaurant and bar, complete with canopied decking outside, overlooking Mount Street. A perfect vantage point for people watching, the menu features classic brasserie dishes with both British and international influences and the club’s walls are hung with works by David Hockney.
- Best bottle: 2008 Hermitage Tardieu-Laurent
- Best plate: Roast Norfolk Black chicken and pommes purée
£300 per year
The best for fitness fanatics: South Kensington Club
Originally built as the Queen’s Gate Music Hall in the late 1800s, the main building of SKC went on to house the Pineapple Dance Studios and later Rolling Stone member Ronnie Wood’s club. The bathhouse on Queensberry Mews was also Francis Bacon’s first London home and studio. It’s perfect for the West London set and, if you’re fond of a workout, it’s got one of the best gyms of any private members club.
- Best bottle: Sassicaia, Tenuta San Guido 2011
- Best plate: Miso-baked aubergine, pomegranate, mint, dukkah
£3,500, plus £1,000 joining fee
South Kensington Club