The battery San Fransisco

The battery in San Fransisco is an invitation-only social club featuring four bars, a wine cellar, a library, outdoor garden, and a wellness centre | Source: The Battery

Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Members-Only Clubs

The private club has a long gentlemanly history as a hideaway for the world’s wealthy and elite. They tend to conjure up images of cigar smoke-filled rooms where walls are adorned with stag heads, whiskey sits in crystal glasses, and members settle into rich leather couches before engaging in intellectual conversation.

And while many remain true to this traditional scene, now more than ever they are havens of culture and creativity – thinking hubs where entrepreneurs, innovators and business people gather to exchange ideas and break new ground. 

These days, private clubs entice like-minded people with bespoke service, excellent cuisine, and ultimately, exclusivity. It’s no secret that joining the most selective clubs can be very difficult, and expensive, indeed.

From the centuries-old establishments to the modern-day social clubs, here’s a peek inside some of the world’s most exclusive members-only clubs and how to join its esteemed member list.

The Carnegie Club – Scotland

Far from a chic city club, the esteemed Carnegie Club at Skibo Castle in the Northern Highlands of Scotland is spread across 8,000 of vast country estate.

Named ‘the ultimate escape,’ the castle’s 21 guest rooms and 11 freestanding lodges provide members with the quintessential country getaway where horseback riding, shooting, fishing, swimming, tennis, and golf are all on offer.

To enjoy the beautiful surroundings, historic setting, excellent food, luxurious facilities and the unparalleled service, the Carnegie Club joining fee is about A$41,000 plus an annual charge of around A$13,000. 

The Carnegie Club
Source: The Carnegie Club

The Hurlingham Club – England

Dating back to 1869, the Hurlingham Club is an oasis of traditional and international renown and has offered some of the finest sports and social facilities to its members.

Spread across 42 acres of landscaped grounds adjacent to the River Thames in Fulham, the establishment comprises everything from croquet and tennis lawns and botanical gardens to the stately Georgian Clubhouse.

Outside, the club has played host to many glamorous occasions including luxury car shows, while the inside features elegant spaces made for hosting luncheons and dinners with 1,000 guests, conferences with 800 delegates and a theatre for 180 members.

Like most exclusive clubs, The Hurlingham Club has a stringent selection process with undisclosed membership fees and a waiting list that is currently “subject to annual review”.

Source: The Hurlingham Club LinkedIn

Core Club – United States

Founded in 2005 as a place for the greatest minds to come together, share ideas, learn and do business, Core Club throws the old-school social club handbook out the window.

Labelled an “anticlub,” the establishment emphasises innovation where there’s no dress code and mobile phones are permitted.

Three locations in New York, Milan and San Fransisco create “an international community of minds, mavericks, and leaders” where reported luminaries include Sir Richard Branson, Google’s Eric Schmidt, and ex-US president Bill Clinton.

The membership registration fee is around A$65,000 with an annual fee of about A$22,000 and as a ‘self-selecting community,’ members must nominate a person to be able to join.

The Australian Club – Australia

Established in 1838 in central Sydney, The Australian Club is the oldest gentlemen’s club in the Southern Hemisphere providing a mixture of traditional and modern amenities.

With both business and dining facilities, the private club features a private dining space for 80 people, a library, a gym with personal trainers, ensuite bedrooms, apartments and a Clubhouse on the seventh floor.

To enjoy the club’s enviable views of the Royal Botanic Garden, members and guests must adhere to a dress code that mentions a long-sleeved jacket and tie for men, a dress, skirt, tailored trousers or evening pants for women and strictly no denim.

While the approximately 3000 strong membership includes dignitaries such as former Australian prime ministers John Howard and Malcolm Turnbull, the process to joining the ranks of the Australian Club is undisclosed.

The Australian Club
The Australian Club
Source: Paul Kelly Design

The Tanglin Club – Singapore

Founded in 1865, The Tanglin Club is now a very modern affair with members from more than 70 countries and partnerships with over 130 of the world’s greatest private clubs.

Lauded as Singapore’s leading private members club, it provides a diverse range of social, sporting and living amenities across 27 luxurious suites. Members have access to billiards, chess, golf, tennis and squash, a gymnasium, swimming pool and multi-purpose hall. The 156-year-old club also features seven restaurants where its members can immerse in the exquisite signature dishes served in intimate dining spaces.

With so much on offer, it’s far from a straight-forward process to become a member. Prospective members must first be proposed by an ordinary member and seconded by two other active members with a minimum of three years’ membership. They’ll then have to pay a one-time entrance fee of approximately A$134,000 along with monthly fees of around A$143 per person and A$288 for couples and families.

The Arts Club – England

Founded in 1863 by a group of prominent intellectuals including Charles Dickens, London’s Arts Club was a forum for devotees of art, literature, and science. Nowadays, the club features acclaimed eateries and a diverse calendar of music, cultural, and art events evolving into one of the most elite gathering spots in London’s esteemed suburb of Mayfair.

Inside the club includes 16 guestrooms, a salon, modern brasserie, library bar, conservatory and nightclub as well as a concierge service, exclusive art showings and talks by industry-leading creatives. With notable members such as the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, membership costs about A$4,390 per year plus an approximately A$3,500 joining fee.

The Arts Club
Source: The Arts Club

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