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While the real-life London members’ club scene is (mercifully) less murderous, you’ll certainly encounter colourful characters, late-night revelry and some tantalising gossip. But what are the origins of these hallowed institutions, where membership is as coveted as the hottest high fashion accessory?

Some 100 years ago, the term members’ club had a whole different meaning. Pall Mall and St James’s Street was the beating heart of the gentleman’s clubland, with White’s known as the first and oldest members’ club in the city, opening its doors in 1693. In fact, writer Samuel Johnson, in the 1700s, penned the term ‘unclubbable’, which the Collins English Dictionary defines as those who are ‘not fit to be a member of a social club; socially inept; unrefined’. These gentleman’s clubs were ultra-exclusive, offering high society men an escape from the pressures of work and family, with potential members judged on their eligibility by class and gender. Women were categorically banned from joining.

The Eating Room at Homehouse


Thankfully, most of these clubs have evolved from their archaic pasts (for some, like the Carlton Club, this only happened as recently as 1998). Others, like the Garrick in Covent Garden, still refuse to permit women despite ongoing calls for reform (from inside and out). But the old favourites have now got some serious competition amid a new wave of clubs, redefining what it means to be part of an exclusive network. Often more inclusive than their older counterparts and beautifully done-up, they serve exquisite food and are prized for their networking opportunities, doubling up as both work spaces and a social hub.

Once you’ve finished binge-watching You Season 4, get a taste of real-life London glamour at one of the capital’s finest members’ clubs. Read on for the very best.