Once the glamorous refuge of gentlemen, private members’ clubs in London have evolved to become elite establishments where celebrities, creatives and professionals come to play. Some of these former “gentleman’s clubs” have been part of the capital’s scene since the late 1700s, while others are newcomers. Here are nine of our favourite clubs to see and be seen.
A stalwart on the private members’ club scene, Annabel’s towers over four floors of its Grade I Listed Georgian mansion building on Mayfair’s Berkeley Square, having moved just two doors down from its original location. Founded in 1963, Annabel’s describes itself as one of the most elegant clubs in the world, and the place to entertain and be entertained.
5 Hertford Street
One of the more secretive members’ clubs, 5 Hertford Street is inconspicuously located in Mayfair behind an unmarked maroon door. Membership in the club — frequented by royals, politicians and celebrities — is hard to attain, requiring two references from existing members before undergoing a strict vetting process. Those who are accepted can enjoy all-day dining in a number of private dining rooms, LouLou’s nightclub downstairs, and their very own cigar shop.
Set behind the dark inky hues of 6 Grafton Street (designed by Sir Robert Taylor in 1772), Maison Estelle is an elegant members’ club created by Sharan and Eiesha Pasricha, the power couple behind the Hoxton hotels group and Gleneagles in Scotland. The club offers a restaurant, several bars and a nightclub for those inside the seductive exterior.
What would a private members’ club roundup be without mention of the globally renowned Soho House? Spanning across countries and continents, this membership group has taken the world by storm. Part of its success can be put down to the inclusivity of this exclusive group – members are allowed to invite three friends via their Soho Friends membership. With hotels, restaurants and bars from New York to Istanbul, it’s the club of choice for “curious, kind people to work, rest and play.” Don’t miss their signature spicy picante.
Founded in 2001, George features a restaurant, bar and canopied decking that overlooks Mayfair’s Mount Street. Inside, Art Deco touches meet with artwork by David Hockney. The club is currently undergoing a major refurbishment, but is due to reopen soon.
The Twenty Two
“Dedicated to the art of lingering,” The Twenty Two is a West London hotel and cultural space with a private members’ club and a round-the-clock restaurant serving up modern British fare with European influences. The grand hotel offers 31 opulent suites and bedrooms, plus a mews house for larger groups. The Edwardian manor — and former family home — is located on Grosvenor Square, with interiors designed by Natalia Miyar in a bold, maximalist fashion, said to have been inspired by the opulence of 18th century France.
Occupying a 29,450-square-metre Lutyens-designed bank headquarters built in 1924, The Ned is comprised of a hotel, private members’ club — Ned’s Club — and 10 restaurants. Created in 2017 by Nick Jones — founder of the Soho House & Co. group – The Ned houses some incredible architectural features, including the original bank vault which leads into the aptly named The Vault bar and lounge, through the Midland Bank strongroom. Upstairs, members can enjoy the Cowshed spa and rooftop restaurants.
Albert’s at Beaufort House, Chelsea
Located on The King’s Road is Albert’s private members’ club in elegant Beaufort House. Extending over the upper three floors, Albert’s contains a club-room with an all-day restaurant and bar, a private dining room and the Penthouse Champagne Bar. The club says it blends quintessential English charm with lively inflections of Italian passion. Plenty of natural light, geometric patterns and rich warm tones help to set the scene.
The Arts Club, Mayfair
The Arts Club was founded in 1863, making it the oldest and most established club on our list. Created “to provide a sanctuary for those with a professional or amateur relationship with the Arts, Literature and Sciences,” the club has Charles Dickens, Paolo Tosti and Frederic Leighton among its members. To this day, art remains very much at the core of the club, with permanent and temporary collections curated by Wedel Art, live music and events. It continues to attract a diverse membership who can enjoy Mediterranean and Japanese cuisine in its two restaurants, sip on cocktails in Leo’s bar, or enjoy a cigar from the Cuban cigar lounge tucked away on the second floor.