The majority of London’s private members’ clubs have evolved in recent years. These days they offer a lot to their members: a place to dine and sip cocktails, to relax, to network and socialise, a place to do business, and in some cases, somewhere to have a massage or visit a health spa.
Belgravia and Mayfair play host to a variety of private members’ institutions. Here is a selection, should you be thinking of joining one in the future.
A woman-only establishment, Grace Belgravia is doing well in its attempts to redress the long-standing gender imbalance on the private members’ club scene. Described by its founders as an ‘exclusive private club for spirited, sophisticated, health-conscious women who want the very best’, the club’s philosophy follows the belief that if you put your health first, your most precious asset, you will thrive.
Grace Belgravia, named in reference to the Three Graces in Greek mythology who represented charm, beauty and creativity, provides a setting in which members can network, socialise, discuss business, and indulge in the health spa, gym or library. A medical and wellbeing clinic on-site is open to both men and women non-members.
Even if you’re not overly familiar with the private members’ club scene in London, you could easily have heard of Annabel’s. Situated on Berkeley Square, the club’s interiors are sumptiously elegant, cosy, and retain an air of stylish decadence. Founded in 1963 by Mark Birley, Annabel’s has hosted a continuous stream of some of society’s most illustrious personalities, including Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, and the Queen. Though its parties throughout the decades were legendary, Annabel’s can provide a comfortable and luxurious setting for a quiet evening of conversation when required by its exclusive members.
The Arts Club has a fascinating history. Founded in 1863 in a building on Hanover Square, the club was born to provide a haven for those interested in the arts, literature or science. In 1896, The Arts Club relocated to Dover Street, and has been there ever since. A list of past members reads as a Who’s Who guide to some of history’s most celebrated and revered cultural figures, including Charles Dickens, John Everett Millais, Wilkie Collins, Frederic Leighton, and Auguste Rodin.
The main areas of interest for members are literature, theatre, film, fashion, science, music and architecture. The club’s highly sophisticated interiors, extensive art collection, first-class hospitality, and loyal members have helped to turn this venue into a venerable institution for both men and women, providing a place where members can network and socialise.
4. 12 Hay Hill
This is not so much a place ‘to see and be seen’, and more a place to do business, hold business meetings and network. The venue combines fully-serviced offices and meeting spaces with high-end dining and hospitality. Strictly speaking, it is not a private members’ club, and styles itself as a ‘business club’ uninterested in building a celebrity clientele. Events are held here, and members can take advantage of the full range of well-equipped private meeting rooms, meeting spaces, study areas, bars, restaurants, and superb hospitality. Members tend to be entrepreneurs, business leaders, and industry influencers.