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Gentlemen’s clubs – do they have a feature ?

The traditional St James Club has many advantages but many are perceived as anti-women and offer little to the younger generation.

Their historic buildings are breath-takingly attractive.

My club the Reform has admitted women since 1982.

Clubs like the Reform also offer accommodation which is considerably cheaper though more basic than a central London hotel.

However, it also has an enforced dress code and you can only have business meetings in certain parts of the hotel.

White’s, generally regarded as the most elite, does not admit women at all either as guests or members.

The Garrick – traditionally for actors and lawyers – has not resolved the issue of women members whilst Pratt’s does not engage it.

In my view the traditional club is part of the fabric of elegant London life.

I have no wish to join Soho House – being more contemporary and hip – but where you are paying a sub to stay in one of their hotels or dine in one of their restaurants.

There are also associations of each club.

The Turf Club is popular with horse racing enthusiasts – the Saville Club with the BBC.

The Reform Club attracts radicals because of its Whig traditions.

Joining members still have to pledge support to the principles of the Great Reform Act.

The RAC offers excellent banqueting and sporting facilities.

The Carlton Club has strong links with the Conservative Party.

The Athenaeum has attracted academics – and the Travellers diplomats.

Large buildings now cost a fortune in energy so subscriptions must necessarily rise.

There is no doubt, too, that with a demanding set of regulations – in some cases arcane – a certain exclusivity follows and many clubs, too, are hard to join.

Another benefit is the associated club overseas enabling cheaper accommodation.

For many years I was a member of the Arts Club in Dover Street and it was linked with the Cercle Union Interallieé, an elegant club in the Faubourg St. Honoré Paris, right next to the British Embassy, which has a delightful restaurant in the garden.

The location of these clubs in St James’s is another significant benefit.

So I believe such clubs will survive if not prosper.

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About Robert Tickler

A man of financial substance, Robert has a wide range of interests and opinions to match. More Posts