Discover the five best women’s private member clubs in London, offering luxury amenities, networking opportunities and a supportive community of like-minded women.
While gentlemen’s clubs have been around since the 17th century, the first women’s only club in London was only founded in 1887. Gertrude Jackson, then a student at Cambridge, decided to lob a proverbial stone through London’s social glass ceiling and started the University Club for Ladies on Bond Street.
Plenty of water has flown down the Thames since then, and clubs for women have become increasingly popular. They provide exclusive spaces for women to discuss everything from billion dollar business deals to beauty treatments and everything in between.
Given the variety on offer now for the 21st century woman, The Sybarite takes a tour of some of London’s most exclusive clubs to pick its top five best women’s private member clubs.
1. The University Women's Club
"A haven in London for educated women"
The University Women's Club is a private members' club in London that was founded in 1886 by Gertrude Jackson, a women's rights activist and scholar. It was originally established to provide a space for women who had been excluded from male-dominated universities to gather and pursue intellectual and social pursuits.
Over the years, the University Women's Club has become an important institution in the city, providing a unique space for women to meet, network, and socialise in an exclusive, supportive environment. The club's membership is diverse, encompassing women from all walks of life, including academics, business women, artists, and more.
In a world that is still largely dominated by men, the club provides a space where women can feel empowered and supported to pursue their goals and ambitions.
In addition to providing a social and intellectual community, the club offers a range of facilities for its members, including meeting rooms, a library, a restaurant, and accommodation for members visiting from out of town. It also hosts a range of events throughout the year, including lectures, debates, concerts, and social events.
The impressive library at the club was built to rival the library at the much older and prestigious Traveller’s Club. The dining room is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday. With French windows that open out onto a beautiful garden, it is the perfect place for a quiet, yet sumptuous meal. There are 21 bedrooms in the club that offer a choice between single, twin, and double beds.In addition to these, there are 6 six ensuite rooms for some extra luxury.
The University Women's Club is an important institution in London, offering a unique and valuable space for women to connect and support one another. As women continue to face obstacles and challenges in both the workplace and wider society, the club remains an essential resource for those seeking a supportive community of like-minded women.
Membership: All members need to pay a joining fee of £300 and an annual subscription fee starting from £290 and going up to £900 depending on the category and age group applied for. The complete details can be viewed here.
Address: 2, Audley Square, London
2. The Allbright
“There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other”
The Allbright Club in Mayfair takes its name from Madeline Albright, the first woman to become the US Secretary of State. “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other”, Mrs. Albright is said to have famously remarked while campaigning for Hilary Clinton in the run-up to the 2016 American presidential election. And that became the foundational statement of The Allbright, which prefers to describe itself as a sisterhood, rather than a club.
Founded in 2018 by entrepreneurs Debbie Wosskow and Anna Jones, The Allbright has a special commitment to celebrating women at work. To this end, it not only provides a space for women to meet and connect, but also provides access to courses for upskilling, and organises professional events that help women grow in their careers.
The restaurant at the club offers full day dining from a menu that includes a selection of English and Continental delicacies. The hair salon on the second floor allows patrons to indulge themselves in a range of luxurious hair treatments by L’Oreal. The club offers dedicated coworking spaces that are open to non-members as well.
Its location in Bloomsbury is no coincidence either. Once the home of the Bloomsbury Group led by Virginia Woolf, the neighbourhood is known to be the intellectual birthplace of the early feminist movement in Britain.
Prominent members of The Allbright include filmmaker Gurinder Chadha of Bend It Like Beckham fame, the actress Olivia Wilde, and House of Lords Peer Martha Lane-Fox. As one of the most exclusive private members clubs in London, there is usually a waiting list for the membership programme.
Membership: Membership costs £1,650 per year with an additional £300 registration fee.
Address: 24-26 Maddox Street, London
3. The Sorority
"What belongs to you will come to you, when you create the capacity to receive it."
The Sorority was established by Lisa Tse, a successful art entrepreneur and photographer who is often called “one of the UK’s most well-connected women”, and Helen Brocklebank, a former CEO of Walpole, a luxury trade organisation.
The club is exclusive and members are selected based on their achievements, expertise and potential to contribute to the community.
The Sorority provides a range of services and facilities to its members, including a co-working space, meeting rooms, and events focused on professional development, health and wellness, and social networking. The club also hosts a range of speakers, workshops, and networking events featuring prominent women from a variety of industries and backgrounds.
To be eligible to become a member, all prospects must demonstrate stellar credentials of having made notable contributions to any walk of life. All new members receive a handcrafted sterling silver insignia that is a mark of belonging to The Sorority.
Some of the more notable members include Dina Asher-Smith, a world champion sprinter, Chrissie Rucker, the founder of The White Company, and Elizabeth Day, a journalist and author.
As an exclusive all-women's society, The Sorority provides a unique and empowering space for women to connect, collaborate and support one another. It offers a community of successful women who can share knowledge, expertise, and opportunities, and support each other in achieving their goals.
Membership: Yearly membership is from £1,100 with a £500 one-time registration fee. Membership is by invitation only.
Address: 71-75 Shelton Street, Covent Garden, London
4. The Trouble Club
"She was looking for Trouble, and she found it"
Trouble was founded in 2014 by the former Financial Times journalist Joy Lo Dico with the aim of creating a space for women to socialise, network, and support each other.
One of the most sought-after private clubs in London, Trouble does not have any fixed headquarters of its own, but rather uses the premises of other prominent all women’s clubs such as The Allbright. In this sense, it is somewhat a travelling club, in that it focuses more on issues and connections rather than having a beautiful venue.
No longer restricted to London, The Trouble has branched out across the Atlantic, hosting an event at New York’s Soho house in 2022.
Since its founding, Trouble has become a popular destination for women in the creative industries, particularly in music and fashion. It has hosted events for brands such as Nike, Burberry, and Chanel, and has also been the site of performances by musicians such as Skepta, Solange, and Kehlani. Prominent speakers to have addressed members at the club include the novelist Elif Shafak and the feminist icon Gloria Steinem.
While Trouble is a members-only club, it has gained a reputation for being an inclusive and welcoming space for women of all backgrounds.
Membership:Membership is £180 per year
Address:Kingly Street, Soho, London
5. The Merit Club
“We are not a women-in-business network”
Founded in 2017 by the British-Hungarian fashion designer Krisztina Tardos, The Merit Club is an online space for like-minded women to form lasting social bonds. It prides itself on being the one club that is not focused solely on being a business and networking society but one that welcomes women from all walks of life. From homemakers to corporate honchos, all women are welcome here.
Perhaps the most affordable female private members club in London, The Merit Club offers members a host of features at fees that ensure no one is left out only because they can’t afford it. Members can enjoy facilities such as discounted prices at coworking spaces across London, access to spa getaways, bespoke cocktails, afternoon teas, trips to tropical getaways to name a few.
Membership: The monthly plan is £20 per month while the annual plan is £200 per year.
Address: The Merit Club is an online space and does not have a physical clubhouse
Just as London pioneered the gentleman’s club, it is at the forefront of the movement to carve out exclusive social spaces for women where they can socialise, meet like-minded people, and build networks.
From the elegant and refined ambiance of The AllBright to the vibrant and eclectic atmosphere of The Trouble, to the virtual communities fostered by The Merit Club, London's women-only private members clubs offer something for every taste and preference. For more curated luxury experiences in London and around the world, make sure to check out our coverage here.