Hong Kong is a town that loves a club membership. Whether it’s for sports, business, or pleasure, if there’s something you’re into, there’s a club for it. Some of these may seem completely impenetrable to the outsider or newbie, but there’s a way in if you have the know how. Receiving membership to one of these fine Hong Kong establishments will allow you into the inner circle, open up a new network of contacts, and give you ultimate bragging rights.
Whether you actually have a boat and want to sail regularly, or just hang out and talk in nautical terms, there are a number of boat clubs across Hong Kong to join. The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club is one of the few establishments not to ditch its royal status, and has three locations (Causeway Bay, Repulse Bay, and Sai Kung) to choose from. Joining fees start from a cool $91,800, with monthly fees from $1,155.
With a history that stretches back to the 1940s, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) is the official hangout for correspondents, local journos, diplomats (and the odd banker). Its current location on Lower Albert Road in Central offers two bars, a Chinese and a Western restaurant, and regular live music and talks – including some controversial ones of recent months. Non-correspondent or journalist membership requires a $35,000 joining fee and significant waiting list. However, prove you are in the industry and you pay just $3,000. Bona fide journalists and correspondents also get a discounted membership fee for the first three years.
As the name suggests, The American Club is focused around an American membership. It has both a ‘town club’ on the 48th and 49th floors of Two Exchange Square in Central, and a ‘Country Club’ in Tai Tam on the south side of the island. Facilities include restaurants, bars, a pool, gym, spa, kids club, and even a hair salon. Joining fees are $438,000 for American Citizens, with a monthly fee of $2,570.
Hong Kong boasts some stunning golf courses, but actually playing on them doesn’t come cheap. One of the finest belongs to The Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club. Not only does membership here offer access to this stunning 18-hole course on the tip of the Clearwater Bay peninsula, but the clubhouse provides squash and tennis courts, a gym, two restaurants, and kids play areas. Individual joining fees start from $880,000 for the club and $4,200,000 with golf. Monthly fees are $1,600 and $2,600 respectively.
If you want to really make a statement in Hong Kong, a membership of The Hong Kong Club can go a long way. Started in 1846, ‘the club’ as it is generally referred to, was set up by the city’s elite and joining the ranks of its 1,500 members is no easy task – entry is by invitation and ballot. The Hong Kong Club, which is housed in an impressive 25-storey building on Jackson Road, features multiple restaurants and bars, a fitness centre, library bowling alley, and more. Becoming a member can take years, and membership fees are a closely guarded secret, but it seems that if you have to ask, you can’t afford it!
Not all memberships in Hong Kong are about exclusive lounges and bars. The city has a number of societies that run on a more social and community level for various foreign arrivals. The St Patrick’s Society Hong Kong has been going since 1930, set up by the former chief justice Sir Joseph Kemp (originally from Dublin). The society organises an annual black-tie ball for St Patrick’s Day in March, as well as regular socials, sports days, and kids’ events throughout the year. Lifetime membership is just $888. You can also find a range of other active sister societies in Hong Kong, including the St Andrew’s, St David’s and St George’s.
For real sports fans there really is one club that you need to join. The Hong Kong Football Club provides a wide assortment of pitches and grounds to play football, rugby, netball, hockey, Gaelic Football, and more. The clubhouse in Happy Valley also features restaurants and bars, swimming pools, tennis courts, ten-pin bowling, kids play rooms, meeting rooms, and even horse racing boxes. Unsurprisingly, membership is weighted towards those who play, and if you pass trials to join one if its teams or already play at a certain level, the joining fees are $25,000. Non-sporting joining fees are around $400,000, with a monthly fee of $1525 for both.
Though entrance to the Happy Valley Racecourse is only $10 on a Wednesday night, membership of The Hong Kong Jockey Club comes with a lot more perks. The members’ stands include their own restaurants and bars, with some of the best views of the track at both the Sha Tin and Happy Valley Courses, but members can also make use of the wide range of facilities at the two clubhouses, and the Beas River Country Club in Tai Po. The joining fee for full membership is $600,000, with a monthly subscription of $2,200. A racing membership is also available for $150,000 if you are proposed by an existing member.
Possibly the easiest club to join in Hong Kong is Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo Club. This is the airline’s loyalty programme and allows you to collect Asia miles, which can then be put towards flights, upgrades, and lounge access. Joining the club is free and can be done online, but to really get the most out of it you need to rack up some flights with Cathay Pacific or one of its One World alliance airlines. Once you reach silver status, lounges, and priority flying open up to you.
Though the membership card for Hong Kong Public Libraries may not come with the kudos of a private members’ club, it does give you access to a wealth of knowledge – and a massive selection of books, music, and videos, all available for free from hundreds of venues across the city. The Hong Kong Central Library in Causeway Bay alone has 10-storeys of resources to explore. To get your library card you just need to sign up with your Hong Kong ID, and you will be able to borrow up to eight items at any one time.
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