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London confidential : historical gentlemen's clubs

London confidential : historical gentlemen's clubs

Gentlemen’s clubs are anything but a thing of the past. In London, they are becoming fashionable once again—but are just as confidential as ever.

London confidential : historical gentlemen's clubs

A product of 18th century British culture, gentlemen’s clubs have long been a refuge for London’s high society. Historically, aristocrats, intellectual elites, brotherhoods, and trades communities gathered together in this private setting to do business and expand their cultural and political networks in London’s opulent but discreet town homes.

The gentlemen's club : London’s secret history

However, these places don’t let just anyone pass through their doors. To become a member of these exclusive meeting places, which are otherwise closed to the public, you have to be inducted, meet strict admission criteria, and pay yearly dues. Lobbying your case is the price to pay ! After a golden age that lasted three centuries, these ultra-private clubs are now becoming popular again by targeting a clientele that’s eager to take up the tradition.

The Cavalry Guards Club smoking room
The most important conversations take place in the smoking room of the Cavalry Guards Club. © DR
The Savile Club in London
Since 1868, writers and artists have been visiting the rooms of the Savile Club, located in the eminently chic Mayfair district. © DR

New meeting places for the young and wealthy

Nowadays, the young elite tend to frequent clubs that align with their affiliations and areas of interest. While government officials gather at Boodle’s Books and athletes go to Queens, the Savage is dedicated to the arts and sciences, the Livery to businessmen, the Special Forces to spies, the Sketch to showbusiness, and the Travellers is for the royal family. The clubs all have one rule in common, however—you have to leave your mobile phone in the cloakroom.

The Landsowne Club in Mayfair
The Landsowne Club was founded 250 years ago and is now adding a new chapter to its illustrious history. © DE

In London, the tradition of private inner circles is back in vogue…