How to get accepted into London’s exclusive members clubs
Gaining membership of London’s most prestigious gentlemen’s clubs is no easy matter. GQ speaks to representatives from London’s top clubs to find out exactly what’s required to get through the door.
Gaining membership of London’s most prestigious gentlemen’s clubs is no easy matter. Entry isn’t just a case of finances – the selection criteria are far more intensive than that.
Wit, contacts, good conversation, manners. All are required.
GQ speaks to representatives from London’s top clubs to find out exactly what’s required to get through the door.
Albert’s owners L to R: Fraser Carruthers, Jake Parkinson-Smith and Carlo Carello.
Tucked behind a blue door on the Old Brompton Road in South Kensington, Albert’s is a relatively new addition to London’s member’s club scene loved by those who like a good time (and who know the right people). This subterranean spot mixes old school British glamour and European eccentricism to great effect – dinner will always turn into dancing- so it’s little wonder that the club is fit to bursting with West London’s wealthiest residents most weekends. We spoke to one of the owners, Fraser Carruthers, to get the download on what it takes to join the party.
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“All prospective members must be proposed or seconded by a current member. The ethos behind this, is to make sure all members in some way link back to the founding partners or committee. There will never be a large degree of separation between new members and founders. We believe this gives the club a comfortable, intimate community.”
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Tucked away on Greek Street in Soho, Club Prive is located upstairs in London’s oldest French restaurant, L’Escargot.
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Membership is limited to 1,000. Co-Founder Brian Clivaz, who previously ran Home House in Marylebone and The Arts Club, told GQ that L’Escargot “only admit people we like”. “We always meet people before they are elected,” Clivaz says.
The selection criteria ranges from “how did the candidate treat the receptionist on arrival” to “if at a banquet, would you be happy to sit next to them or be bored stiff? “If you met them at the bar, could you strike up a conversation with them, and be willing to buy them a drink? Would they buy you a drink?”
The Arts Club
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Founded in 1863, The Arts Club in Mayfair describes itself as a “haven” for those interested in the arts. When asked about the club’s ideal candidate, Alice Chadwyck-Healey, Executive Director of The Arts Club, told GQ that it’s very simple. “Being an arts club, we look for people with a demonstrable interest in the arts,” says Chadwyck-Healey. “We look for people who are interested and interesting.” The club interprets the arts “fairly broadly”, their members ranging from painters and sculptors to “journalists, ballerinas and actors”. “All candidates need to know two existing members of the club; it’s a fairly traditional approach. But we try and meet every candidate, to see if we’d be a good fit for them as much as they’d be a good fit for us.”
Located in Marylebone, Home House was designed in 1773 and spreads across 19, 20 and 21 Portman Square. With its large dining halls, it mixes modern comforts with 18 sup th /sup century elegance. Amanda Elghag, Membership Executive of the club, told
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GQ that “as one of London’s most exclusive and popular clubs”, membership of Home House is by invitation.
Similarly to The Arts Club, you need to know two people at the club who can vouch for you during the Home House membership application. You’re also required to answer questions such as “what are your social interests?” and “which London restaurants do you currently frequent?”
Elghag told us that applicants “arrange a concise tour” of the club “so that we can meet. [them] personally”. “Fully completed applications are put before the Membership Committee around the 18th of each month. If successful, your membership will commence on the 1st of the following month.”
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Described as “the original arts and media private club”, The Groucho can be found on Deans Street in Soho. Celebrating its 30 sup th /sup anniversary this year, members of The Groucho include GQ‘s own Dylan Jones. “The committee looks for someone who has worked for or in the creative or cultural artistic fields,” says Matthew Hobbs, CEO of The Groucho. “Ideally they will have achieved something of significance within their field”.
Hobbs told GQ that during the application process, the Committee always asks itself two questions: “what’s this person achieved?” and “would you want to have a drink with them at the bar?” On average, 40-60 per cent of applicants are accepted each month.
Asked if there is a cap on the numbers of members, Hobbs stated emphatically “no”. “The club is run as ‘church and state’, so the committee is the church, and they have a free hand has who gets in; there’s no quotas or budget, it’s purely decided on the applicant. There’s never been quota and never will be”.
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Based in Covent Garden, The Hospital is a hub for those in the creative industries. A seven-storey building, the club boasts facilities that include a television studio, screening room, live performance space and gallery.
Michael Berg, Creative Director of The Hospital, told
GQ that “All new members have to be proposed by an existing member; that helps us create and keep our community together”.
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All new members must sign up to the club’s philosophy and motto, “Create, Connect, Collaborate”. “We do ask that the member’s either work in or are directly supporting the creative industries,” says Berg.
Asked what traits The Hospital look for in its applicants, Berg listed “creative, collaborative, engaged, innovators, influencers”.
Found on Dean Street in Soho, the old-school Quo Vadis club is located above its much-lauded restaurant, and has an “eclectic” membership.
Sam Hart, the proprietor of Quo Vadis along with his brother Eddie Hart, told GQ that “individuality and charm are very important” when screening applicants to the club. When asked about the application process, Hart stated that there’s no “blanket policy at the QV Club”. “We tend to look at each potential new member on a case by case basis. We are essentially looking for people who are happy to be themselves and who don’t have any airs and graces. The QV Club is laid-back and friendly and that’s because of its members. We would never want that to change”.