The most exclusive members-only clubs around the world, from San Vicente Bungalows to The Hurlingham

 (Christopher Sturman)
(Christopher Sturman)

There’s something about an exclusive club which fascinates people, whether you’re a kid in a treehouse with your best mates or luxuriating by a Soho House pool surrounded by film stars in baseball caps. New Apple TV+ series Palm Royale does nothing if not highlight the lengths some would go to to gain access to a high-end members club.

The luxury world is full of them, and then there’s a whole other tier of hyper elite clubs which count CEOs, Oscar-winning actors and legendary musicians among their ranks.

To get into one of these elite establishments, more often than not you’ll have to undergo a rigorous application process, secure nominations from existing members and wait a year or ten to be bumped off the waiting list.


We spoke with Oli Coles, the founder of digital reciprocal club platform OtherClub, who explained why people are willing to go to great lengths to be part of the gang. “Each club offers different benefits and as such there are different reasons that people choose to join a private members’ club. Some universal benefits include exclusivity to a particular profession or pastime which in turn can provide great networking or social opportunities,” he says.

Or, as media attorney Craig Emanuel put it to The Hollywood Reporter, “If I want to say hello to Kevin Huvane dining with Nicole Kidman, it doesn’t feel as invasive as walking over to them in a restaurant.”

Major deals have taken place behind the walls of members-only clubs. San Vicente Bungalows played host to a detente between Netflix and Hollywood, when director Steven Spielberg was seen meeting with Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. On the other end of the spectrum, Bradley Cooper, his ex Irina Shayk and Lady Gaga performed an emotional rendition of 'Shallow' from A Star is Born for select guests at the same spot.

Other clubs like The Wing and CORE have seen the likes of politician Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, actor Jennifer Lawrence and Twitter co-founder Evan Williams sit down for Q&As with members.

“The fact that most clubs have a rigorous application process means that they are rarely over-crowded,” Coles continued, “which in turn provides the benefit of a quiet haven to entertain friends or clients or to act as a place to unwind or check emails.”


Scoring an invite to one exclusive club might also mean you can hang out at other exclusive spots on your travels, as many clubs have reciprocal agreements — meaning that with a letter of introduction, your membership in a London club could score you an invite to clubs as far flung as Japan and South Africa.

Applying to join a club is a process that sounds equally (if not more intense) than a job application, as prospective members sometimes have to go through multiple rounds of interviews and answer questions you’re likely to find on a university admissions essay.

Coles revealed that prospective members “increasingly” have their social media vetted, especially their LinkedIn profiles to see what industry they’re in.

Coles advised, “Many members-only clubs are established to attract a particular audience, be it creatives, CEOs, those in agriculture, or people in private equity, venture capital and startups etc. Make sure your LinkedIn profile suitably matches the clubs’ criteria and indeed your mutual connections could add value. Your job title will also play a part and in some cases your presence as a team member on your company website offers further validation that you are who you say you are.”

“Most super-exclusive clubs will require a letter of recommendation (or referee) from at least one existing member,” he added. “As best you can, make sure your referrer is a member the club wants to retain as such. Longer-standing members are likely to have more influence.”

He continued that the most difficult clubs for anybody to break into are ones that “specialise in an area you’re not in.” For example, he said, “There are thousands of people who want to become a member of the Soho House group but their profession doesn’t match their criteria.”

San Vicente Bungalows

 (San Vicente Clubs)
(San Vicente Clubs)

Membership fee: $4,200 a year, with a $1,800 joining fee

Location: West Hollywood. Santa Monica and New York outposts are coming soon.

The brainchild of Sunset Tower Hotel’s Jeffrey Klein, the San Vicente Bungalows is a club reported to have around 750 members, and is housed in a former motel, transformed into a cosy — and more importantly private — oasis.Members have included the likes of Miley Cyrus, Tracee Ellis Ross, Justin and Hailey Bieber — plus rumours have swirled that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have previously set a room aside here to get away from it all.

Industry-defining meetings, including director Steven Spielberg’s sit down with Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, and incredible moments such as Irina Shayk, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga singing 'Shallow' from A Star Is Born have taken place here.

There’s undoubtedly hundreds more that we’ll never know about, as members are heavily vetted and everyone who enters the premises has to sign a code of conduct, as well as surrender their phone at the door where sticker are placed over the front and back cameras. “They put in the extra effort for privacy, but people still keep the stickers on even after they leave for a status symbol,” an anonymous member told The New York Post.

After being nominated by an existing member of good standing, prospective members have to send in an application (which includes headshots and answers to three questions) and then face the wrath of a 14 person secret screening body full of experts on culture which reportedly counts Julia Roberts as one of its members.

Even then, only 10% of people actually make it in after being a waitlist said to be in the thousands, and members over 35 have to fork out a hefty $4,200 a year.

Roppongi Hills Club

Membership fee: £8,367 initiation fee, £1,253 annual fee and a £3,482 refundable deposit

Location: Tokyo, Japan

This ultra-exclusive club in Roppongi Hills is run by the Hyatt and takes over the entire 51st floor of the Mori Tower, boasting a 360 degree view of Tokyo’s skyline. With seven luxury restaurants (one specialising in Wagyu beef) and two bars, it has a strict smart casual dress code and runs regular networking events as well as an annual party. Members also get free access to the Mori Art Museum and its exhibitions, as well as special benefits at hotels, spas and childcare services around the country.

With banquet venues and a number of member events, including cooking classes, wine tastings, golf competitions and more, a membership here gets you more than just a place to hang out in the mornings.

Soho House Portland

 (Christopher Sturman)
(Christopher Sturman)

Membership fee: £1,950 for local house membership, £2,950 for every house membership. Members under the age of 27 pay a lower membership rate until their 30th birthday,

Location: Portland

If you manage to score a Soho House membership, you can get international access to every single club across the world, including the first outpost in the Pacific Northwest, which promises to be the chicest new spot in the Central Eastside neighbourhood.

It boasts a lounge, a two-story, state of the art gym with a sauna and steam room, as well as one of the brand’s beloved rooftop pools and a music room. The restaurant has an Italian, locally-sourced menu from Executive Chef Matt Sigler.

The House, which is located in the restored Troy Laundry Building, also hosts the largest permanent display of pieces from 45 creators affiliated with the city.

As with standard Soho Houses, you’ll need to be referred by up to two existing creative members and to complete an application form which requires a headshot. Though don’t expect entry in time for sun lounger season, as the waitlist was said to be at an all-time high last summer with 95,000 in line... Don’t let that Sex and the City storyline which saw Samantha Jones pose as Brit Annabelle Bronstein give you any ideas, now.

The Hurlingham

Membership fee: Thought to be £1,400 a year

Location: London

If you’ve got a decade or two to wait around, you might just be bumped off the waiting list at The Hurlingham to become a fully-fledged member alongside names including the Princess of Wales.

As one of the most exclusive country clubs in the world (and London’s only one), new membership applications are closed and the only viable way to get in at this point is to be born to a current member. So impenetrable is the club that Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich even tried to buy the place for £1 billion with the offer of paying off existing members with £1 million each. He failed.

Dating back to the 1860s, the gorgeous manor house in Fulham has 42-acres with lush gardens, four indoor squash courts, a fitness centre with a half size Olympic indoor pool and more.

Yellowstone Club

 (Yellowstone Club)
(Yellowstone Club)

Membership fees: $400,000 initiation fee, annual fee of $41,500 plus a home in the area

Location: Big Sky, Montana

The Yellowstone Club is a glitzy destination resort and members-only club with a gigantic barrier to entry — you have to own one of the homes across the 15,200 acre grounds.

Given that they go for between $2 to 25 million, it’s a major price to pay and even then you don’t automatically qualify for the club.

On top of that, you have to pay a $400,000 initiation fee and $41,500 annual fee before gaining access.

Yellowstone Club boasts its own private mountain with 2,900 acres of powder, 2,700 vertical cliff drops, 15 ski lifts and 60 trails for its members to enjoy.

With top-tier security reportedly led by a former Secret Service officer, it means the club’s VIPs can leave their bodyguards at home as they zip down the slopes on skis or snowboards.

If you get tired of the slopes, you'll also be able to head off to a public ski resort in Big Sky and use their slopes.

In the summer, it becomes an adventure holiday destination with the opportunity to go mountain biking and climbing, as well as to use an 18-hole Tom Weiskopf golf course.

With members that have ranged from Bill and Melinda Gates, to Google’s Eric Schmidt, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, and many more, you’re likely to run into a handful of recognisable faces hanging out at the Rainbow Lodge or dining at one of its several other restaurants.


Membership fee: By invitation

Locations: Milan, Italy

Oscar Wilde once said, “I won’t belong to a club that accepts me as a member” — an attitude this Milanese speakeasy has taken to heart.

Earning a spot on the World’s 50 Best Bars list, only a few lucky people will ever get to experience 1930 as you have to earn the trust of those at the MAG Cafe.

Once that’s done, you’ll be granted an all-white membership card (with details that can only be read under a UV light) and be sent a text message with the location of the address.

Paying homage to the prohibition-era, the space plays host to some of Milan Fashion Week’s most elite parties, and only fits around 35 people.

With an almost religious approach to mixology, you’ll be able to enjoy adventurous cocktails including their gin-soaked lemon and raspberry cheesecake, Mexican eggnog or a Marilyn Monroe — champagne served with a spritz of her favourite fragrance: Chanel No.5.

As one of the trickiest invites on the list, you’ll be hard pressed to find any information as its Facebook page (the only online presence they have) is incredible sparse on the details with no phone number, address or even opening hours listed.

The Tanglin Club

Membership fee: A one time fee of $100,000 for Ordinary/Lifetime membership, plus a $1,070 application fee and a monthly subscription fee of $107

Location: Singapore

As with The Hurlingham, you’ll have to wait between ten and fifteen years to score a club card at The Tanglin Club in Singapore.

On top of that, you’ll also need to have been proposed and seconded by two members, who must have been active users for at least three years.

Founded during Singapore’s colonial years in 1865 by “forty men good and true”, the 155 year old establishment has 4,000 members on its roster - many of whom are amongst Singapore’s elite.

Originally aimed at British expats in Singapore, the club’s membership has since expanded to encompass over 70 nationalities.

As for what your $100k membership fee will get you? The Tanglin Club is home to six different restaurants and bars, 27 suites, a hair salon, playroom, gym and outdoor swimming pool plus more.

Members of the Tanglin Club can also gain access to over 130 reciprocal clubs around the world including the Tokyo American Club and the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron.

Club 33

Membership fee: $25 - 50K initiation fee, plus a $10K annual fee

Location: Anaheim, Shanghai and more

One of the most exclusive clubs in the world belongs to the House of Mouse, as tucked away in select Disneyland parks you’ll find Club 33.

With a reported ten-year waiting list plus a $25 - 50K initiation cost and $10K annual fee, it’s a luxe oasis of calm in park properties including Anaheim, Shanghai and more. Known only as Club 33, it’s where rumoured members Kim Kardashian, John Stamos, Tom Hanks and more go for exclusive VIP experiences with Disney characters as well as luxury fine dining in the heart of the happiest place on earth.

Speaking to Thrillist, a former Disney cast member revealed it was “tailored to celebrity clientele” and was opened in 1967.

From caviar appetisers and wagyu beef dishes, through to a private balcony for the best view of the fireworks, it’s a tough club to crack — though some members have in the past sneakily auctioned off dinner reservations for non-members online. It also requires a business casual dress code. So no mouse ears, then.


Membership fees: $50,000 initiation fee, plus a $17,000 annual charge

Location: New York, America

While New York is full of private members clubs, CORE has been one of the toughest to get into since opening in 2005 (and with the highest price tag).

With rumoured members including the Clintons, Marianne Boesky, Jay-Z, Starbucks’ Howard Schultz and more, it’s a place where you’ll find the biggest names in any industry working out in its state of the art gym or heading for a bespoke skincare transformation.

With 1,600 members each with an average net worth of $83 million, it's described as a 'place where CEOs and cultural icons collide.’

On top of that, CORE: hopefuls require a referral by existing members or partners of the club. The Manhattan-based establishment offers a personal concierge service, reciprocal club memberships around the world, access to The dangene Institute skicare programme.

Speaking to Elle, co-founder Jennie Enterprise said, “Our members are inevitably going to be in the press. They just are. They're doing press-worthy things.”

American members can also access the Milan club, as well as its set of 10 suites and partnership with Emirates if they visit.



Membership fees: £1,250 joining fee plus a £3,250 full annual fee

Location: London

46 Berkeley Square has played host to a number of legendary nights out over the decades, with previous and members having included Prince, Diana Ross and Frank Sinatra, while Rihanna, Princess Eugenie and more have reportedly visited.

With a ‘fabulous party dressing’ code, a strict rule book and tough application process which includes a nomination from an existing member, this Mayfair establishment is one renowned for parties in its basement club (as well as its Instagrammable loos).


Beyond the nightclub, you’ll also find a number of dining rooms and the Humidor — a cigar room packed with options and experts to help you out. Dogs are allowed on the ground floor and, naturally, dog walkers are available if you can’t be bothered to take lassie out for a walk.

Annabel’s also plays host to a number of lavish parties over awards season and fashion week, with some notable partygoers including Taylor Swift and her ex Joe Alwyn.