Header image courtesy of Soho House Hong Kong
Call it classist or elitist, but Hong Kong has a long and rich history of private membership clubs, dating back to when the British brought their tradition of London’s private men’s clubs to our shores. Social climes have clearly changed—and women and locals are no longer unwelcome—but such clubs still exert a great deal of background influence, with their members well known as key movers and shakers in the fabric of society. With so many different membership clubs catering to all interests, unrelated to politics or snobbery, here are just some ways to enjoy the good life in one of the best cities in the world.
Rosewood Hotel is already the glittering jewel of the Kowloon harbourfront, but it still has another trick up its sleeve. Purportedly a “personal passion project” of Rosewood Hotel Group CEO Sonia Cheng, and an overt nod to The Carlyle in New York, Carlyle & Co. is going to be Hong Kong’s latest members’ club, aiming to carefully curate a “magnetic coterie of colourful characters” with its hand-picked members (as opposed to judging eligibility according to one’s profession, which is usually the case).
Carlyle & Co. will be housed within the floors above the Rosewood with private lift access, and amenities include a landscaped terrace with fantastic views, a library, a music room, a cocktail bar, a wine cellar, access to the Café Carlyle cabaret and supper club, and even a tailor and a barber! There will also be eight bedrooms available for members and their guests, and access to the gym and pool as an add-on to the membership fees. Covid-19 had put a stopper in Cheng’s plans for Carlyle & Co., which was initially slated to begin founding membership at the end of last year, but the latest news is that the club is due for an April launch this year, with international openings to follow.
Carlyle & Co., Rosewood Hong Kong, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
A decade in the making, this 28-storey destination is East Asia’s first Soho House. Like all other Soho Houses, it has been created and designed with the creative community in mind; the club is famously known for its “no suit” policy, so ditch your tie at the doors. Its beautiful interior design was inspired by Hong Kong elements—the décor was specifically curated to blend harmoniously with the view of Hong Kong’s buildings. References to Wong Kar-wai films are dotted throughout, patterns and fabrics have motifs with local Chinese elements, and the art displayed is by local artists.
This is the biggest Soho House yet out of its 25 locations, and facilities include a three-floor gym, a 1970s-inspired pool room with a swim-up bar, a range of food and drink options, and a co-working space that spans nine floors. There are also regular members events on music, films, and wellness, just to name a few. We have no doubt that this is the place in which Hong Kong’s creative talents are congregating. Our heartfelt condolences if you’re a finance guy or a banker—catch us on the Drawing Room floor otherwise!
Soho House Hong Kong, 33 Des Voeux Road West, Sheung Wan | (+852) 5803 8888
One of the few old clubs in Hong Kong that has retained its “royal” status, this is one for the sailors and rowers out there. Membership acceptance is selective and based on prowess on the water and willingness to participate in club activities. With three clubhouses across the territories—on Kellett Island in Causeway Bay, Middle Island in Repulse Bay, and Shelter Cove in Sai Kung—all offering a wide range of water facilities, there is sure to be something suited for your sporting tastes. If you’re more of a landlubber, the Yacht Club also offers specially curated wine lists for each of their bases, along with amenities such as squash courts, bowling, fitness facilities, and a range of restaurants.
Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, Kellett Island, Causeway Bay | (+852) 2832 2817
One of the most renowned press clubs in the world and particularly favoured among Hong Kong’s media circles, the FCC has been at its historic Central location since 1982. If you’re a journalist, writer, or diplomat, you’ll appreciate its historical roots from the war-torn 1940s (and no doubt bump into familiar faces at the bar). Their membership criteria allow for non-journalists to join as well, although this privilege does come with a much heftier price tag. Amenities include a bar, gym, library, and restaurants. The FCC also regularly hosts speakers and events and is affiliated with press clubs worldwide which members are granted visiting rights to.
Foreign Correspondents’ Club, 2 Lower Albert Road, Central | (+852) 2532 1511
The Hong Kong Club is undoubtedly the OG daddy of all membership clubs in Hong Kong. Founded in 1846 by the city’s elite, and coolly referred to as just “the Club,” this was where tai-pan (大班; senior business executives), heads of trading firms, and government officials met to socialise and discuss business over whiskey and cigars. Its impressive 25-storey colonial-style location features multiple restaurants and bars, a fitness centre, a fantastic library, a bowling alley, and much more—they’ve got an extensive wine list of exceptional vintages, and even a dedicated barber. Joining the ranks of its 1,550 members can take years as entry is only by invitation and ballot, and if you even have to ask about membership fees, then you most likely wouldn’t be able to afford it!
The Hong Kong Club, 1 Jackson Road, Central | (+852) 2868 4655
Any golfer worth his salt will fancy a membership at the Hong Kong Golf Club, which boasts a nine-hole par 56 course with a view of Deep Water Bay. Their Deep Water Bay clubhouse also has a pool, gym, sauna, and personal training facilities, while the Fanling location offers three other 18-hole courses, as well as rooms for reading, billiards, and cards. There are not many opportunities for joining, as the Hong Kong Golf Club is notorious for its 20-year waitlist for memberships, but once you’ve wrangled your way through its doors, you’re in with Hong Kong’s prime golfing talents.
Hong Kong Golf Club, 19 Island Road, Deep Water Bay | (+852) 2812 7070
Lot No. 1, Fan Kam Road, Sheung Shui, New Territories | (+852) 2670 1211
With five acres of secluded grounds sitting right next to Ocean Park, the Hong Kong Country Club offers plenty to entertain the whole family, including a swimming pool, tennis and squash courts, a bowling alley, a health centre, and a luscious lawn overlooking the waters of Deep Water Bay. The club’s restaurants are top-notch, and there are also indoor and outdoor playgrounds for the kids. The waitlist for membership is currently about a decade, with a strict quota on nationality to ensure diversity, but there are also junior memberships available for those aged between 16 and 28 at a discounted rate.
Hong Kong Country Club, 188 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Deep Water Bay | (+852) 2870 6500
The American Club was established in 1925 to bring some home comforts to Hong Kong’s ever-growing American expat population; you have to be American to apply for membership. The Town Club location in Central has a range of top-notch restaurants overlooking Victoria Harbour, while the Country Club in Tai Tam provides a spa, swimming pool, sports courts, a 10,000-square-foot play space, and a teenager-geared area full of tech and games. If you’re craving an Independence Day-themed picnic, a Thanksgiving dinner, or a Super Bowl event, this club should be first on your list.
The American Club, The Town Club, 48/F & 49/F, Two Exchange Square, Central | (+852) 2842 7400
The Country Club, 28 Tai Tam Road, Tai Tam | (+852) 2842 7400
If you’re a yacht owner, the AMC really is a no-brainer. As one of Hong Kong’s best-equipped private clubs, its facilities include seven restaurants, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a bowling alley, an ice rink, a hair and beauty salon, not to mention their fully-serviced marina in which to dock your yacht. Additionally, the AMC is managed by the Shangri-La group, which means members get to enjoy the same level of hospitality as in their hotels. This is also a very family-oriented club with plenty to keep the little ones entertained, like a two-level indoor playroom, and a graffiti-decorated lounge called the Yard.
The Aberdeen Marina Club, 8 Shum Wan Road, Aberdeen | (+852) 2555 8321
Relax away from the city bustle at this club located at the tip of Clearwater Bay peninsula. Their 27-hole golf course is futuristically irrigated by a reverse osmosis plant that takes in seawater and desalinates it. Once you’ve worked up an appetite from either golf, squash, tennis, or a gym session, you can take yourself for a steam, sauna, or massage, or dine overlooking the coast. Membership options can be for just the Country Club, or with the Golf Club and Marina Club combined.
The Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club, 139 Tai Au Mun Road, Clearwater Bay | (+852) 2335 3700
As a sports club, this is not the kind of uppity location where they judge you by how you knot your tie; in fact, stock up on athleisure wear because most members are here to use their fantastic sporting facilities. The grounds boast Hong Kong’s largest collection of pitches and sports grounds, which include football, rugby, netball, and hockey, as well as a swimming pool, bowling alley, snooker, and a golf simulator. There are also plenty of classes and teams organised for all ages, and members can book into the club’s exclusive box at the Happy Valley racecourse, which includes a buffet with unlimited drinks. You can still join on a non-sports preferred membership, but these are much pricier than sports memberships.
Hong Kong Football Club, 3 Sports Road, Happy Valley | (+852) 2830 9500
Founded in 1916, Helena May is a club for women run by women, initially set up to provide safe accommodation for ladies who needed to travel to Hong Kong but didn’t want to stay in hotels. Visitors and locals would also use the dining and meeting facilities to socialise, dance, and have afternoon tea in. Nowadays, the club still has rooms for accommodation and offer a range of social activities such as bridge, book clubs, musical evenings, and charity bazaars—and not just for women, either. They have also got a period-style old fashioned library, holding second-hand and withdrawn book sales periodically.
The Helena May, 35 Garden Road, Central | (+852) 2522 6766