Discreet. Tasteful. Polished. Three words you’ll be wanting prospective business partners to apply to you. Three words that will come to mind if you take them to a private members’ club.
But getting into one is about as easy as teaching your grandma how to send a text. However, with a little insider knowledge, you can find yourself inside the world’s most exclusive gilded venues, sealing that sought-after business deal along the way. ShortList reveals 10 of the best members’ clubs and, crucially, how to get inside them.
Residence’s oak floors and highbrow literature nestled on the shelves are just two of the sophisticated touches that helped this Dublin townhouse (pictured left) forge a refined reputation since its opening four years ago. For all of the minor detail, however, it’s Forty One — the award-winning restaurant known for excelling in seafood and desserts — that has truly helped spread word-of-mouth acclaim.
How to get in: The owners recently made it possible for you to book a table at Forty One without membership and, depending on capacity on the night, you can spend the rest of your evening exploring other parts of the club.
For full membership: £700 per year for Ireland-based members; £495 for overseas members.
41 St Stephen’s Green, DBN 2; firstname.lastname@example.org; 00 353-1662 0000
A60 (New York)
In films, most bars in New York City come with views of the Empire State Building as standard. But for those who travel frequently to the city it soon becomes clear that skyscrapers have a habit of blocking out other skyscrapers. Not at A60. A members’ rooftop bar atop Manhattan’s hip 60 Thompson hotel, the views here are astonishing, and will help you seal any business deal.
How to get in: Check in to the hotel and you’ll be given a members’ card to A60.
For full membership: Free, but it’s strictly invitation only.
60 Thompson St, NY 10012; 00 1-87 74 31 04 00
Milk & Honey (London)
Given the inconspicuous front door on Poland Street, you would be forgiven for thinking that a secret knock might be the only way into this Soho cocktail den. Instead, press the buzzer and you’ll be whisked into a dimly lit speakeasy bathed in jazz for that Prohibition gangster vibe.
How to get in: Non-members can book a booth on weeknights before 11pm (depending on availability). The club contains two further bars, but they’re off-limits unless you’re a member.
For full membership: £500 (or £300 for under-30s) a year.
61 Poland St, W1; email@example.com; 020-7065 6840
BAR Executive (Hong Kong)
Perched seven floors above Causeway Bay, Hong Kong’s busiest shopping district, this specialist whisky bar is a place to relax away from the frenzied hustle of the city’s streets. It offers far more than just tranquil serenity though; it’s known for its 300 varieties of whisky and stunning drinks presentation — particularly the trademark hand-carved ice balls that keep beverages cold without impairing the taste.
How to get in: Non-members are welcome at any time but are subject to appointment-only bookings, and even if you are on the list it’s worth being discreet. A stringent door policy dictates that anyone registering above ‘reasonable chat’ noise levels won’t even see the lift.
For full membership: Membership is free for any man who turns up on time and presents themselves well.
7/F Bartlock Centre, 3 Yiu Wa St, Causeway Bay; firstname.lastname@example.org; 00 852-2893 2080
Soho House (Berlin)
A quick glance at the graffiti-clad lobby (created by Damien Hirst), or a few lengths of the rooftop open-air pool should tell you all you need to know about the latest European outpost of the Soho House Group. And just like its cousins in London and New York, it offers a complete day-to- evening service. You can work up a sweat in the gym, meet colleagues over a spot of lunch, then grab a pre-dinner cocktail in one of its terrace bars.
How to get in: Book a room in the hotel and you’ll automatically be granted access to its enviable and exclusive facilities. One guest is allowed, plus anyone else staying in your room.
For full membership: £740 per year, or £988 for an Every House Membership.
Torstraße 1, 10119; email@example.com; 00 49-30 40 50 440
Club Silencio (Paris)
Few nightclubs can claim to have David Lynch as their chief designer. In fact, only one can. Based on the identically named establishment in his film Mulholland Dr, Lynch oversaw the design of everything from the bathroom stalls, cinema and library, down to the saltiness of the nuts. It should therefore come as no shock that gaining an annual membership is far from straightforward.
How to get in: The trick is to ask for a table after midnight. This is when the club turns into more of a nightclub and respectable non-members are allowed entry.
For full membership: £347 per year for those under-30 or who live abroad;
142 Rue Montmartre, 75002; Silencio-club.com
Norwood Club (New York)
Spread out across five floors in an elegant 1845 townhouse, New York’s Norwood Club is a comfortable base for any discerning British gent. The pop-art decorated interiors appeal to the creative crowds that attend, the lounge is ideal for daytime loafing, a 50-seat Club Room restaurant offers brassiere-style food, and if you’re after a livelier vibe later on, the third floor Salon bar often provides live music.
How to get in: Out-of-towners are allowed to hire rooms, host private cocktail parties and even book Saturday brunch in the garden. All activities give you a day’s access to each level.
For full membership: £627 for a year’s international membership.
241 West 14th St, NY 10011; firstname.lastname@example.org; 00 1-212 255 93 00
Griffin’s Club (Geneva)
It’s likely you would spot a few Swiss celebrities on a visit to Griffin’s Club, as it’s the place to be seen in Geneva. An ideal location for wining and dining, entry is highly restricted. Even if you happen to make it past the front door, jackets are mandatory, so it’s wise to ensure your attire would make even Roger Federer appear unkempt.
How to get in: Book an early reservation in the restaurant, then you can roam around the venue’s striking bars until the early hours.
For full membership: Being a notoriously private establishment, we’re not sure it’s best to ring. Drop them an email — and wait. In fact, they're so exclusive that we couldn't even get a snap (hence the generic Geneva shot).
36 Helvétique Boulevard, GE 1207; email@example.com; 00 41-22735 2829
Oasis Clubhouse (Buenos Aires)
Taking the notion of a ‘private’ club literally, the management of this Argentinian social hangout never reveal its full address until you’re officially on the guest list. Comprising three guest rooms, a garden terrace, a billiard room and a lounge, it’s a property crammed with extravagance — Andy Warhol originals hang from the living room walls, a cocktail bar lies next to the pool and opera singers have been known to perform by candlelight.
How to get in: A day pass is available for as little as £20 for non-members.
For full membership: £533 per year.
Location unknown; firstname.lastname@example.org; 00 54-11 4832 5276
The Hospital Club (London)
If you’re looking to mix business and pleasure this vibrant hangout — popular with London’s creative industry — is the ideal spot. It comprises an art gallery, a 36-seater 3D cinema, pool room, two cocktail bars and a restaurant.
How to get in: Reserving a meeting room, decked out with iconic, mid-century furniture will entitle you and your guests to the rest of the building without membership.
For full membership: £650 per year (with an additional £250 joining fee), or £300 for under-30s.
24 Endell St, WC2; email@example.com; 020-7170 9100