With the sound of turbofans once again whining through London’s private termini at the likes of Farnborough, Biggin Hill and Northolt the question on the lips of the private jet-set is where to point the Gulfstream.
Of course, when the world’s your oyster you’re going to want to head somewhere you can feel at home, ideally with privacy and luxury guaranteed in each city you stop off in. And nothing achieves this quite like one of the world’s most exclusive private members’ clubs. Places where it takes more than just a Coutts card and an entourage to get you through the door. Welcome to the world’s most exclusive private members’ clubs. Oasises of privacy, of comfort and often with an omertà of silence guaranteed from fellow members, there are only a few places which qualify as the best in the world.
Here are our picks…
Approximate annual membership: £8,400 joining fee, £1,260 annual fee and a £3,200 deposit, refunded if and when you end your membership).
Website: www.roppongihillsclub.com (and perhaps they should spend a couple of those £8k joining fees on updating it?)
Roppongi Hills Club, Tokyo
In the centre of Tokyo’s exclusive Roppongi Hills, the Japanese equivalent of Mayfair or the Upper East Side, its the Roppongi Hills Club, 51 storeys above the capital and overlooking its most familiar landmarks.
But it’s what’s inside that most people don’t have an opportunity to discover.
The club enjoys seven restaurants and two bars. including Amakawa, which only serves hand selected A5 Wagyu beef...
The club is run by the Hyatt hotel, which owns the Mori Tower that the club tops. Along with its 360 degree view of the skyline, the club enjoys seven restaurants and two bars (including Amakawa, which only serves hand selected A5 Wagyu beef).
If you’re looking for the very best of Tokyo, this is the perfect start.
Core, New York
Billed as an ‘international community of minds, mavericks and leaders’ (couldn’t they come up with a third M?), Core’s membership is rumoured to include the Clintons, Jay-Z and Howard Schultz.
The 1,600 members apparently have an average net worth of $83 million...
You or I might read ‘CORE: is a philosophy. A culture. A sensibility. An ethos. A playground for the zeitgeist’ and struggle to stifle a giggle, but this gibberish is how rich Americans like to be spoken to and it’s deadly serious.
As are the fees, which are said to be $50,000 for membership and $17,000 annual charges. Thankfully the 1,600 members apparently have an average net worth of $83 million, so if anything they need to put the fees up!
Approximate annual membership: £950 annual subscription plus a £250 joining fee
The Groucho Club, London
It’s not the surroundings that are particularly impressive (they’re not) or the facilities endless (they aren’t), the fees are moderate and even the food, though tasty, isn’t Michelin fare. What marks Soho’s Groucho Club apart is the exclusivity. Members are rumoured to include Stephen Fry (he wrote the club rules), Harry Styles, Noel Fielding, the Gallaghers, at least half of Blur and anyone who’s anyone in the British media, art, music or publishing world.
Anyone who's anyone in the British media, art, music or publishing world...
The Dean Street club was the inspiration for Soho House and remains one of the hardest clubs to get into, not to mention one of the best. Others have more opulence, more Instagrammable bathrooms (there’s no Instagramming at the Groucho) or more rooftop pools, but have they got Kate Moss gossiping with Tom Hardy at the bar? Probably not.
Little Beach House, Malibu
Soho Houses are a mixed bag in exclusivity terms, but Little Beach House in Malibu is rumoured to be the trickiest to wangle. Not least because (and the clue’s in the name) it’s little.
The beachfront property draws its membership from the film, fashion, advertising, music, art and media sectors of this Californian surfing mecca. Which, given that’s pretty much everyone, means that competition is fierce.
Even normal Soho House members can't just waltz in...
Even normal Soho House members can’t just waltz in, such is the exclusivity, and despite being part of the Nick Jones empire the ‘local membership’ rule is unique to Malibu, making its laid-back terrace one of America’s most sought-after.
Approximate annual membership: $100,000 for life membership PLUS a $1,070 application fee and monthly $2,568 annual subscription
The Tanglin Club, Singapore
With a seemingly endless waiting list, The Tanglin Club is the place to be seen in Singapore. In a city that boasts a hotel with the most impressive infinity pool in the world (courtesy of Marina Sands Bay) or one the most luxurious hangouts East of Suez (that’s you, Raffles) it still falls to The Tanglin to be the one place in Singapore you want to be.
For the $100,000 membership, you'd expect at least as much...
The club was founded in 1865 and still evokes an old-school charm of a St James’s Club, but with a modernity often lacking in the world of London’s gentlemans’ clubs. The waiting list is said to be between ten and fifteen years long and members can enjoy six restaurants and bars as well as a raft of facilities.
And for the $100,000 membership, you’d expect at least as much.
One of London’s most sought-after clubs, Annabel’s is the darling of Mayfair with it’s Berkeley Square townhouse almost constantly playing host to some art installation or other, whether the entire 70-foot facade is dressed for Christmas, fashion week, the Flower Show or whatever.
A legend on the London club scene...
A legend on the London club scene, the club may not be the oldest, the grandest or the most exclusive, but it’s one of the best known. After undergoing a £65m facelift (that includes a Picasso in the foyer) a few years ago, the club has been entirely reimagined by Martin Brudnizki, the ubiquitous interior designer, has created a playground perfect for the rich and famous.
Approximate annual membership: £30,000 joining fee and a £9,500 annual subscription
The Carnegie Club, Scotland
The fantasy of being a Scottish laird can become a reality at Scotland’s Carnegie Club. The stunning Skibo Castle is a private members club made up mainly of American businessmen, presumably rediscovering their tenuous Celtish roots in the lap of luxury.
American businessmen, presumably rediscovering their tenuous Celtish roots...
And by chance they can experience life as genuine Scots do. Being awoken each day by a resident bagpiper and eating breakfast accompanied by a live organist.
The opulent club boasts a golf course, a spa, off-roading, riding (sorry, ‘horse-back riding’ – in case you didn’t know where to sit) and clay pigeon shooting, all on the 8,000 acre estate.
The Australian, Sydney
The Australian was already the most exclusive club in the antipodes, but heightens the exclusivity even further by not welcoming powerful women to join alongside the raft of Prime Ministers, legal and business leaders drawn from Australia’s great-and-the-good-(and-male).
The oldest gentlemen's club in the southern hemisphere...
The club offers guests incredible views across Hyde Park toward Sydney Harbour while members can enjoy the sumptuous club and dining options.
The Australian was founded in 1838, making it the oldest gentlemen’s club in the southern hemisphere.
Approximate annual membership: £1,200 per year plus a joining fee (if it ever opens again)
The Hurlingham Club, London
With a closed waiting list and reportedly a 15-20 year wait for anyone already in the queue, only the Order of the Garter can rival The Hurlingham for exclusivity (a complete exaggeration, what about the MCC or White’s or the House of Lord’s tearooms?).
In fact such is the demand for the club that let Kate Middleton queue barge, that the only way to secure membership is through marriage.
Only the Order of the Garter can rival The Hurlingham for exclusivity...
The Fulham mansion sits in grand parkland and comes with swimming pools, tennis courts and some of the best croquet lawns in the country.