16 of the best private members' clubs in Mayfair

Private members’ clubs have come a long way since the gentlemen’s gaffs of old, evolving into eclectic playgrounds that court creatives, entrepreneurs and London's high society. Mayfair now boasts no less than 16 members' clubs, including more than a handful attached to the illustrious Birley name

Below are the best private members' clubs in Mayfair, each of which offers far more than your average hotel, bar or restaurant - whether you're looking for glamour, philanthropy, truffles at 3am or a daily dog walker. It's up to you, however, to find a proposer and seconder to get you in

26 May 2017

The AllBright Mayfair

Photography by Taran Wilkhu

‘Sisterhood works’, declares neon signage at reception, setting the tone in this women-only members' club, which joins AllBright Fitzrovia and AllBright West Hollywood. Its 12,500 sq. ft. across five floors houses everything you could possibly want from your central London home-from-home: dine in the brasserie and bar; work up a sweat in the Stylist Strong studio; network on the roof terrace and enjoy a massage or facial at 58 Lifestyle. It also runs the AllBright Academy, a digital 10-week professional development programme. With interiors by designer Suzy Hoodless, this Mayfair outpost of AllBright is chic and welcoming (and men are very welcome as guests).

Founders: Debbie Wosskow OBE (Founder of LoveHomeSwap) and Anna Jones (former CEO of Hearst).

Why: For being part of a trailblazing women-only club, with like-minded, dynamic women

Price: Multi-club membership £1,150 a year (£300 registration fee); Under-30 Multi-club membership £750 (£200 registration fee). Members must be over 21.

Best for: Working women who spend their time wisely 

Alumni: Naomie Harris, Ruth Wilson, Martha Lane Fox, Sarah Brown, Jameela Jamil, Olivia Wilde

Dress code: None specified – you're as welcome in your gym gear as workwear

Fun fact: The club is named after the former USA Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, who famously said, “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”.

AllBright Mayfair, 24-26 Maddox Street, W1S, allbrightcollective.com

The Arts Club

With 16 bedrooms that come with 24-hour butler service, including a gargantuan penthouse suite, you really could live at The Arts Club. Set in a five storey, 18th-century townhouse on Dover Street, the club was originally founded in 1863 by creatives including Charles Dickens, and past members' have included the sculptor Rodin and the painter Whistler. Today, it boasts a stylish Japanese restaurant, oyster bar, brasserie, night club, garden and terraces, as well as an exceptional programme of panel discussions, exhibitions and live music (Mark Ronson was previously music director of the club). There is also, naturally, an unrivalled and exceptional collection of rotating art and installations.

Owners: Property developer Gary Landesberg and Arjun Waney, who co-owns Roka and Zuma restaurants

Why: Anybody who wishes to be a member must show an appreciation of the arts, including film, music, fashion, theatre and photography

Number of members: Undisclosed

Price: £2,000 joining fee, £2,000 per annum,  with young person and joint memberships also available

Best for: Creative types

Alumni: Auguste Rodin, Gwyneth Paltrow and Grayson Perry

Dress: Stylish – jeans and trainers allowed at the discretion of management

Fun fact: The Arts Club is going international: it is opening in Dubai in 2020, followed by West Hollywood in 2021

40 Dover Street, W1S, theartsclub.co.uk

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Annabel's 

Annabel's, founded in 1963, has built a global reputation as the most elegant and exclusive club in the world. Over the club's 50-year history, it has welcomed Hollywood royalty, ranging from Leonardo DiCaprio to Elizabeth Taylor, as well as actual royalty – it is reportedly the only nightclub that the Queen has ever visited. In 2016, the infamous club moved two doors down, from 44 to 46 Berkeley Square, and reopened as a maximalist adult playground, under the leadership of society restaurateur Richard Caring, who bought the club from the late Mark Birley in 2007, also inheriting George, Harry's Bar and Mark's Club (more on them below).

Set in an 18th-century Grade I-listed Georgian townhouse on Berkeley Square, the multistorey members-only mecca was designed by Martin Brudnizki Design Studios, who was inspired by quintessential British eccentricities. Opulent highlights include exuberant silk wallpaper, sculptural lamps and pink onyx sink basins in the women's bathroom, cited by many as the prettiest and most lavish in London.

Owner: The Birley Clubs

Why: It's the place to see and be seen, with glamour on tap

Number of Members/Price: membership fees available on request 

Alumni: The Prince of Wales, Frank Sinatra, Richard Nixon

Dress Code: "Fabulous party dressing” is encouraged

Fun Fact: The club has an in-house dog walker 

46 Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London W1J 5AT, annabels.co.uk

The Conduit

Being a force for good has never looked better. Members’ club The Conduit, spread across eight floors in Mayfair, is slick and spacious, yet homely and considered, rewriting the rulebook for what it means to be a members’ club in the 21st century. Its address - Conduit Street - provided inspiration for the club's name, which sets out its aim succinctly; The Conduit is a channel for the transmission of ideas, and a home for an eclectic community of people passionate about social change. Sustainably sourced, impeccably stylish interiors are matched by a commitment to positive social impact, while founding members span entrepreneurs, activists and top tastemakers. Apply only if you're one of those “exceptional individuals – entrepreneurs, innovators, investors and activists” with tangible experience in social impact/enterprise, and a means to bring promising ideas to life. The Conduit is also home to the Maiyet Collective, a pioneering concept store open three days a month. Browse a carefully-curated selection of jewellery, beauty, home and lifestyle brands that share the Maiyet vision of creating a “beyond sustainable” future.

Owners: Rowan Finnegan, Paul Van Zyl and Nick Hamilton

Why: Billed as a members' club with a conscience, join to give back, do good and meet people who want to do the same

Number of members: 1,500 (and counting – it just opened)

Price: £850 joining fee, £1800 per annum. There are Social Impact, Under 33 and Student memberships also available.

Best for: Social activists and entrepreneurs

Alumni: Christiane Amanpour, Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, and Jeremiah Emmanual, youth activist and entrepreneur.

Dress code: They say: 'Just come dressed!'

Fun fact: Conduit Street derived its name from the pipes, laid in 1236, that carried water from sources in Hyde Park through the “Conduit Meadows” to supply the city.

40 Conduit Street, Mayfair, W1S, theconduit.com

READ MORE: INSIDE THE CONDUIT, MAYFAIR'S MEMBERS' CLUB WITH PHILANTHROPIC AMBITION

The Fitzdares Club

More than 2,500 metres of cable has been hidden in the walls of The Fitzdares Club, the new members’ club from upmarket bookmakers Fitzdares, meaning that you can watch all manner of sport live, via the latest in audiovisual technology, while enjoying a menu of bar classics with a twist (highlights include Bresse chicken and truffle dippers, burgers made from rump and bone marrow and lobster croissants).

The sports-themed club is the brainchild of Balthazar Fabricius, who founded Fitzdares bookmakers in 2006 with backing from Zac and Ben Goldsmith. Located on Davies Street, The Fitzdares Club screens live sport seven days a week and hosts regular talks by sports stars and television pundits. Design maven Rosanna Bossom, the creative mind behind 5 Hertford Street (more on that below), provides the interiors, while Dom Jacobs, former bar director at Sketch, curates the wine list.

Owner: Balthazar Fabricius (whose father served as Lord March’s racecourse manager)

Why: Possibly the only place in London where you can enjoy a home-made Beef Wellington with a vintage claret while watching England play rugby

Price: £600 per annum

Dress Code: Smart casual dress, unless stated otherwise for a private event. Slippers and gowns are encouraged

Fun Fact: Balthazar Fabricius is named after the protagonist in J.P. Donleavy’s novel The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B

50 Davies Street, W1K 5JE, fitzdares.com/club

University Women's Club

Members clubs Mayfair

Founded in 1883 by Miss Gertrude Jackson of Girton College, Cambridge, this club provides a quiet corner for scholarly women. Much like the atmosphere of an old school, there are worn-out sofas, chipped paintings and mismatched cushions. Thursday evenings offer up club suppers and the libraries, grand rooms, 22 bedrooms and even a secret door make this an exciting place to investigate. Poetry, music and embroidery add to a diverse calendar of events. 

Owner: The members

Why: To partake in intellectual conversation

Number of members: 834

Price: £300 joining fee, up to £670 per annum

Best for: Graduates, professionals and businesswomen of all ages

Alumni: Dorothy L Sayers and Xanthe Clay

Dress code: Smart casual

Fun fact: Rooms were used for filming Downton Abbey

2 Audley Square, W1K, universitywomensclub.com

The Savile Club

The Savile Club

Harking back to the era of the traditional club, here you’ll find leather banquette seating, a snooker room and a dark wooden-panelled bar. Founded in 1868, the men-only club moved home in 1927 to an old Victorian house, which retains many of its original features thanks to a hefty renovation bill footed by the club. There are private ballrooms as well as bedrooms and food is provided by Michelin-starred chef, Michael James. Friendly conversation is encouraged (mobile phones are banned), so if you’re dining on your tod you’ll have to sit at the members’ table. Also home to The Flyfishers’ Club. 

Owner: The members

Why: To surround yourself with rich Victorian history

Number of members: 1,000

Price: £350 joining fee, £1151 per annum

Best for: Writers, poets and literary enthusiasts

Alumni: Rudyard Kipling, Thomas Hardy and Henry James

Dress: Jacket and tie

Fun fact: It’s £2.50 a pint 

69 Brook Street, W1K, savileclub.co.uk

Oriental Club

Founded in 1824 by the Duke of Wellington, the Oriental Club was originally created as a base for those who lived, worked or travelled in the East. Housed in a Grade I-listed Georgian building on Stratford Place near Bond Street, it continues to honour its east-meets-west heritage through an extensive collection of art and artefacts, peppered throughout the opulent property. The Dining Room is accompanied by two bars, an al fresco courtyard and terrace and the renowned wine cellar, which holds no fewer than 120,000 bottles. Joining The Oriental Club offers access to reciprocal clubs across the world, reflecting its international audience. 

Founders: Major General Sir John Malcolm and the Duke of Wellington

Why: for the perfect blend of east-meets-west 

Price: annual subscriptions range from £315 to £1,827

Best for: international professionals

Alumni: William Thackerey, Lytton Strachey 

Dress code: smart casual in most areas. A more formal dress code is required in the Dining Room, Members’ Bar and Small Drawing Room

Fun fact: In 1861, the Club's chef, Richard Terry, published the first Western Cookery Book for Eastern Cuisine, entitled 'Indian Cookery''. The club still references these flavours across its menus today. 

Stratford House, 11 Stratford Place, London W1C 1ES, orientalclub.org.uk

Mark's Club

Mark's Club

This neat townhouse opened in 1973 as an alternative to St James’s gentlemen’s clubs. A mixture of old and new, there is William Morris wallpaper alongside a circus-themed meeting room. It feels most like a home-away-from-home than any other. British and French dining, cocktails around an open fire or an afternoon on the covered terrace – the classic setting is perfect for both business and pleasure, with the idea being that your drink, dice for backgammon and cigar should be no further than a pivot of your elbow. On that note, the club also boasts its very own Cigar Sommelier. 

Owner: The Birley Clubs

Why: For modern tradition, such as champagne with caviar served casually on jacket potatoes

Number of members: Undisclosed

Price: membership fees available on request 

Best for: The modern gent and lady

Alumni: Boris Johnson and Edward Enninful

Dress: Smart

Fun fact: When David Cameron rescinded a place at the men-only White’s Club, Mark’s offered him an honorary membership

46 Charles Street, W1J, marksclub.co.uk

Little House

Little House

Part of the Soho House portfolio, Little House launched in 2012 and courts a typically creative, relaxed crowd. A more modest offshoot of the nearby Soho House, the salon bar, drawing room and restaurant are all on one floor, with upstairs leads to a collection of luxurious private apartments. The familiar Soho House signatures are all present, including velvet armchairs, mosaic-tiled floors, roaring fires and a modern European menu of upmarket comfort food, served until late. 

Owner: Soho House 

Why: For laidback, modern luxury

 Number of members: Undisclosed 

Price: From £400 joining fee, £625 per annum

Best for: Cool creatives 

Alumni: Keira Knightley and James Corden

Dress: Subversively casual

Fun fact: Pay £1,650 and you can be a member of all Soho House clubs

2 Queen Street, W1J, littlehousemayfair.com

Harry's Bar

Harry's Bar

Founded in 1979 by Mark Birley and James Sherwood, who used to own the Hotel Cipriani, this venue was based on the famous bar of the same name at the Venetian hotel. While the chairs and tables might be similar, the plethora of framed cartoons on the wall are a decidedly British touch. Richard Caring acquired The Birley Clubs portfolio in 2007 and has retained this venue's love of all things Italian – Murano glass, Fortuny fabrics, and a wholesome menu of pastas, pizzas and risottos. With just one restaurant and one private room, the focus is on food. Make sure you come for truffle season: the club has unrivalled connections in Piedmont to acquire the biggest and best.

Owner: The Birley Clubs

Why: For world-class Italian cuisine. Members have been known to get food delivered to their house in times of need

Number of members: Undisclosed

Price: membership fees available on request 

Best for: Italophiles

Alumni: Beyoncé, David Walliams and Amanda Wakeley

Dress: Smart

Fun fact: All forks are laid prongs-down on tables, as Mark Birley wanted to avoid guests getting stabbed in the hand during heated discussions

26 South Audley Street, W1K, harrysbar.co.uk

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George Club

Also part of The Birley Clubs' Mayfair portfolio – yep, that’s Annabel’s, Harry’s and Mark’s all within a stone’s throw of Berkeley Square – think of George Club as the more laidback family member. Sure, men will still have to wear a collared shirt in order to be let in, and women must be elegantly dressed, but things at George are a little more relaxed – one of the reasons the Mount Street abode has become the go-to hangout for high-flying hedge-fund execs.

A particularly popular spot for power breakfasts and long lunches, it was at the George that News International chairman James Murdoch reportedly told then-opposition leader David Cameron that his family’s loyalty had swung from Labour to the Conservatives. Laidback, maybe; insignificant, certainly not.   

Owner: The Birley Clubs

Why: To eat among original artworks by David Hockney 

Number of members: Undisclosed

Price: Undisclosed

Best for: Soft power breakfasts

Dress: Smart  

Fun fact: A Charitable Dogs Committee makes it the most dog-friendly club in London

87-88 Mount Street, W1K 2SR, georgeclub.com

The Cavalry and Guards Club

The Cavalry and Guards Club

Walk into this hideaway for Cavalry and Guards officers and you’ll be greeted by paintings of honorary members, the Duke of Kent and the Duchess of Cornwall. Decorated with grand pillars and oil paintings of the Battle of Waterloo and Antarctic explorer Captain Lawrence Oates, this impressive building is made up of a snug bar with a terrace, bright and airy dining rooms, function and meeting rooms, a resident barber, as well as a few simple suites for overnight stays – everything a young officer could ask for. And it’s not just for uniforms: civilians can be nominated if they’ve known two members for three years or more.

Owner: The members 

Why: A celebration of tradition and Britishness

Number of members: 2,900 (1,000 serve in The Forces)

Price: Up to £775

Best for: Officers and gentlemen

Alumni: King Abdullah of Jordan, The Sultan of Brunei and HRH Prince William

Dress code: Jacket and tie 

Fun fact: The first female serving officer is to join this year 

127 Piccadilly, W1J, cavgdsclub.co.uk

67 Pall Mall

67 Pall Mall

Former hedge fund manager Grant Ashton launched this haven for wine lovers in St James’s in December 2015 (yes, we've still included it in Mayfair's selection of private members' clubs - it's that good). After 30 years in the City, he and his friends had amassed a hefty collection of vintages that were waiting to be drunk. So he started a place where they could be enjoyed with minimal mark-up. Choose from an instantly updated wine list on an iPad, take tips from 15 in-house sommeliers, store wine on the premises and make the most of super connections – one member recently experienced a money-can’t-buy private tour with winemaker Laura Catena around her Argentinian vineyard.

Owner: Grant Ashton 

Why: Choose from 2,500 bottles, of which 500 come by the glass (from £7.50) thanks to a Coravin contraption that siphons wine through the cork

Number of members: 2,300

Price: £1,250 joining fee, £1,250 per annum

Best for: Oenophiles 

Alumni: Hugh Johnson, Sam Neill and Olivier Krug

Dress code: Men: jacket and shirt; ladies: stylish 

Fun fact: The most expensive glass costs a whopping £667

67 Pall Mall, St. James’s, SW1Y, 67pallmall.co.uk

5 Hertford Street

5 Hertford Street

Robin Birley, son of the late Mark Birley – chieftain of running, owning and selling private members’ clubs – learnt a thing of two from his dad. The five-year-old establishment is a rabbit warren of rooms in four adjoining townhouses with themed décor in the restaurants (try Venetian Ottoman or Russian), as well as food (everything from sushi to tapas). There’s a cigar room, three bars, a library, drawing room, alcoves for bookworms – in fact, there’s not much you wouldn’t find here, including Lou Lou’s, the famous late-night watering hole for celebrities. 

Owner: Robin Birley 

Why: For an all-day retreat. If you’re only going to join one, this should be it

Number of members: Around 3,000

Price: A rumoured £1,200 joining fee and £1,500 per annum 

Best for: Socialites and socialisers

Alumni: George and Amal Clooney, Sir Mick Jagger and Leonardo DiCaprio 

Dress code: Smart: shirt and jacket for men

Fun fact: When boy band One Direction turned up to Lou Lou’s dressed in the wrong attire, doorman Claude Achaume rejected them with the cutting line: “You’re only going in one direction, and that’s away from here”

2-5 Hertford Street, W1J, 5hertfordstreet.co.uk

Oswald’s

Not so much a members’ club as a wine cellar with members, Robin Birley's Oswald’s opened on Albemarle Street in 2018, promising to serve, without ripping off, London’s most committed oenophiles. To that end, the club, named after Birley’s royal portraitist grandfather, offers big-name wines at, or even below, prices you’ll pay in the supermarket. Oswald’s applies no corkage fees to wines its members bring in themselves and members are free to cellar up to 12 of their own wines at the club. Commissioned glassware comes from John Jenkins; the house champagne is Krug. When it opened, Oswald’s went out of its way to encourage female members, as well as couples.  

Owner: Robin Birley  

Why: To enjoy big-name wine at bargain prices

Number of members: Undisclosed

Price: Undisclosed

Best for: Serious oenophiles

Dress: Smart  

Fun fact: The ground floor of Oswald’s was inspired by the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles

25 Albemarle St, W1S 4HU, oswaldsclub.com