KEEPING IT PRIVATE: Member Clubs Around the World And Why We Love Them
A concept that rose in popularity in the late 19th century in London, private members’ clubs used to be reserved only for the extremely wealthy and the powerful. It represented an exclusive world handled delicately with white gloves, a version of luxury that seemed outdated. In recent years, members’ clubs have undergone a serious image upgrade, choosing to appeal to a younger, more entrepreneurial and creative demographic. Gone are the strict dress codes and inhibitive gender restrictions. In its place are modern clubs for the hip and the very cool; spaces where work and play can coincide.
Soho House, multiple locations
With over 27 Soho Houses located in major cities and with further plans to expand in Asia, Europe and North America, Soho House is one of the largest and most established private member networks in existence. Founded in 1995 in London, the club tends to attract the young, city-dwelling creative class who can be found hanging out in the club’s meticulously designed spaces. Membership to Soho House is notoriously selective. Being rich and famous does not guarantee one a membership. To qualify as a member, you have to impress a committee of existing Soho House members with your “creative soul.”
Founded in 1963, Annabel’s at 46 Berkeley is one of England’s most exclusive private members’ clubs. The club is an iconic nightclub and has played host to many glamorous soirees and raucous A-list parties over the years. The decadent Annabel’s houses restaurants, bars, private dining rooms, a garden terrace and a private cigar room. As a member, you enjoy access to a robust calendar of exclusive events. Annabel’s grounds are strictly members-only and there is typically a long waitlist of people waiting to get approved. All membership applicants have to be nominated by a current member before even being considered.
Kee Club, Shanghai
Kee Club is an exclusive private members’ club located on the iconic Huai Hai Lu in traditional 1920s-style Twin Villas. Members of the club are the well-heeled of Shanghai, connected with their shared passion for the good life. The club maintains the atmosphere of a private members’ salon and offers a wide-ranging set of private lifestyle events covering fine wine, film screenings, art talks and more. The club also boasts a stellar private dining restaurant that serves fusion French-Cantonese cuisine, as an homage to the region. Membership is by-invite-only.
CORE, New York and Milan
Not everyone can join CORE, members are curated against very exacting standards to be part of this private members social club. Founded in 2005, the club has a member mix that is socially and culturally diverse, from industries as varied as media, business, tech and sports. CORE tends to attract the young, successful and upwardly mobile which complements nicely with its trendy interiors and youthful vibe. The member list is kept top-secret with politicians, celebrities and New York’s elites all having been spotted there.