London's 5 Most Amazing Exclusive Member Clubs
The British tradition of private member's-only clubs continues to this day. Five of the oldest and most exclusive are in some of the most valuable property in neighbourhoods like Mayfair and Piccadilly.
28 St. James's St., SW1A 1HJ
Like many London private clubs, Boodle’s takes pride that it has not changed an iota in 255 years. No woman has crossed the threshold since 1762 when the exclusive gentleman’s club was founded by Lord Shelburne, the future prime minister of the United Kingdom. But even men have a hard time getting into this urban oasis. Membership is strictly governed by nominations by current members. Club members enjoy masculine pursuits like enjoying orange fool, the club’s traditional dish.
The Reform Club
104 Pall Mall SW1Y 5EW
The Reform Club was designed by Charles Barry, the architect who rebuilt the Palace of Westminster in the mid-19th century, and redesigned Highclere Castle and Trafalgar Square. Barry was commissioned to build a palatial clubhouse for members who pledged support for the Great Reform Act of 1832. Member MPs and Whigs later developed the club as the headquarters of the Liberal Party. Today the Reform Club has no political affiliation; it is purely social and admits both men and women. Still, it retains its exclusivity with a members list that includes the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.
60 St James's St., St. James's, SW1A 1LN
Established in 1762 as a private society, members have access to a bar, dining room, library and gaming rooms. Women are permitted in Brooks — but only as guests, not members. Ladies must use the side entrance, and the toilets are at the very back of the building. Alumni include former Prime Minster William Pitt the Younger and abolitionist William Wilberforce.
69 Brook St., W1Y 2ER
The Savile Club, founded in 1868, remains a social club with a distinctly artistic bent. Members include authors, scriptwriters, journalists, actors, television producers and musicians. Early literary members included Robert Louis Stevenson, Thomas Hardy, H.G. Wells, Rudyard Kipling, W.B. Yeats and Henry James. The club boasts several significant scientist alumni as well, including Sir Charles Darwin, Lord Rutherford and Sir John Cockcroft. Club facilities include bars, dining rooms ballrooms, a library and meeting rooms.
37 St. James's St. SW1A 1JG
White’s is one of the oldest and most exclusive clubs in London. Established in 1693, the dainty building was once a tea shop, then became a notorious gambling hell known for the rakish behaviour of some of its members. The grand Portland stone building on St. James’s Street remains a gentlemen-only venue. It features bars, gaming rooms, and traditional British fare served in plush dining rooms — but not the vegetarian dish. In one seven-year period only three vegetarian dishes were sold. Members include the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and Conrad Black.